Greater than 1 minutes
I love email. I prefer it to all social networks, instant messengers and team chat apps (a la Slack). It’s amazing how a system invented in the 1970s (and hardly updated ever since) proves sufficient for 95% of online communication in the 2010s. Not to mention various plugins such as Mixmax and Streak that turn email (Gmail in this case) into a powerhouse of productivity and efficiency.
But there’s one thing I don’t use email for: managing tasks.
I tried that, and it didn’t work at all.
First, email subject lines didn’t tell me what I should DO, and A to-DO list is called that way for a reason. When I see an item, there should be NO additional mental steps to understand what ACTION is expected from me.
Secondly, there were anyway tasks that were unrelated to email communication, so I had to keep at least two different to-do lists to attend to. This resulted in confusion prioritizing and categorizing tasks in each of them.
And, finally and most importantly, the view of an “oversaturated” inbox was plainly depressive (unfinished Gestalts?). And the more emails piled up in it, the more discouraged I was to do anything with them.
These were not the only problems, but they alone made it clear that this marriage wouldn’t work out.
So now I turn all emails that cannot be answered really quickly into actionable tasks. Thus, “Re: Feedback on my last job” becomes “Respond to Nancy’s feedback on my last job”. The processing takes half a minute or so, but gives me clear understanding of what I will have to do with that task once I get to doing it.
The specific task management system to use is another question. I ended up using Habitica (which I wrote about once), and my efficiency skyrocketed ever since. But I assume any environment tailored for task management will do better than email. Even if it’s just a pen-and-paper day planner.
But anyway, that’s just my experience, and I’d love to hear if anyone has succeeded in managing their tasks in email.
Originally published on Ab HoC.