Thoughts about Email Part 1


Everybody uses Email, whether it is Outlook, Gmail, self-hosted, privat or for business. Also probably everbody had their bad moments with Email. Either you wished a certain feature existed or the way Email works or any other thing.

That happend to me to... Let me just tell you about my short little odysee with Mail:
My first ever Email Account was with compuserve, later came web.de, and other small services. Finally one day Gmail was out and everybody wanted an invitation. As I always want to play with new things, of course I wanted in. Some time into Gmail, as I started my freelancing business, I wanted my own domain. We all know that Google Apps for Business exists, but I wanted something else. And currently at that time, the cool new hosted Email Provider was Fastmail. All in all they provide a great service, and I was satisfied. Until....

I saw something a friend had done with his Gmail Inbox:

Probably at the first sight it seems strange for you, but for people who are working with the GTD schema, it should not be news. Mainly you have 5 Inboxes

  • normal Unread Mail (Inbox®)
  • Needs Action/Reply (Needs further action from your side)
  • Awaiting Reply (You are waiting for a response)
  • Scheduled (For future notes, ideas,...)
  • Delegated (You delegated a task to somebody)

And I need to say this is awesome. I canceld my Fastmail subscription, and immediately got back into Gmail. And now reading Email is more fun and more productive, it just gets out of the way.
Now I made you curious eh? :) To do the same with your Gmail inbox just check out this article, where you can find more explanation on how to do it.

Now back in the productive mode, I couldn't stop. As I am an Omnifocus user, I really wanted to have the "Scheduled" and "Needs Actions" Task in Omnifocus. Five minutes of searching and I found a solution: IFTTT.
I installed a recipe, which send Emails with the label #todo or #scheduled to my Omnifocus Inbox via Omnifocus Mail Drop. That's just amazing. Now I can schedule all my tasks in one tool, almost automatically ;)

All this got me a little bit thinking, why are Mail Clients the way they are? Yes of course there are differences, but mainly there are small. I really tried a lot of them. Some of them even integrate a similar functionality like the one I described above, but I still feels like a hack. Sometimes they need to route the Emails to their server in order to process them, and I think thats not the way to go.
I cannot present a solution to you right now, those are just my first thoughts. But I think in general there is a lot of playground.
For example Slack, it is really a cool tool, I use it myself. Some people wrote "It replaces Email", but I don't agree with that 100%. It clearly helps with team-communication and the overload of Emails you would have had instead, but it does not remove Email from the game.
Hiri also seems like a very interesting approach, unfortunately they only support Office365 until now. They clearly thought about the way we use and want to use Email. That is the direction where I want to go.

So what to do now? I don't know for sure, thats why I want to keep writing this series about "Thoughts about Email" and let's see probably I come up with something.

The journey is the reward