Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Improving Productivity: Emails

My Gmail is clutter free and now...I don't check it every day!! Thank you activeinbox!!! I went from 2000 emails to 0 in one afternoon. Boring at the beginning, then I got the hang of it and started trashing things like it was the last day of my life....great feeling that of getting rid of so much stuff. I guess it feels the same when you finally face the house big clean up project that you've been avoiding for so long. Now I have another task...get my 3 old yahoo accounts in order and forwarding and filtering emails to gmail. I already started with one and still feel comfortable with getting so many emails and not really processing them straight away. Once I get to a number that looks kind of big (somewhere between 40 and 100 emails), then I go and process them all at once. By "processing" I mean, I open them, if they have links for me to read, I click the links and let them sit there until I finish with Gmail. Once I'm done with gmail, then I go to the open pages, if they are something I only need to skim, then I do so. If I'd like to read it properly then I use klip.me extension for Chrome wich pushes the article from the web to my kindle (it's been amazingly useful!! you can push things to your mobile if not a kindle user, check www.klip.me). Usually, there is one day in the week where I find enough time to read the articles I've been pushing and I don't have to be in front of the computer.

With Activeinbox I can set up pretty useful labels in Gmail. So what I did was: In Nozbe I had a look at my projects and categorize them in my mind by "active", "inactive" and "closed". Then I went to Evernote and created the tag "Projects" with 3 subtags (active, inactive and closed), and in each subtag I created the relevant sub-subtags with the names that correspond to my Nozbe projects. Then I went to Gmail and configured my label types (C/ for Contexts, R/ for references P/ Projects and S/ for Status). The P/ type is consistent with what I have in both Nozbe and Evernote. 

When I create labels, then active inbox adds them at the top, integrated with Gmail's horizontal menu. The  good thing about it is that I can spend less time thinking about what I want to do with those emails or where I want them to go. If I've decided what it is that I need to do about it, then I click on "next action", which is a S/ type. I can also click on the Contexts drop down menu to assign it whether that task is an errand, call, at computer, etc. If the email belongs to a specific project, then I click on the "label" drop down menu and assign it accordingly. This "label" menu is the one that lets me assign emails to active, inactive and closed projects. I don't really understand why it assigned "label" as opposed to "projects" but, so far, it works for me like this so I'm not worried about it.

I'm not going to go much further because writing about it is probably not the best way to share the experience. I would be happy, however, to have a skype call, or call conference and share my screen to play a bit with the three tools so that you have more of an idea. Again, I'm still learning tips about all of them but I'm definitely making progress. It has reduced my "email checking time" considerably (to between 2 to 4 times a week as opposed to everyday and many times during the day) and I'm getting used to seeing emails piling up in my inbox until I make the decision to clean up. When I decide that "that's big enough a number" I go and get rid of them all in one go. 

At the moment I have a free account with ActiveInbox. When you're ready, you can start a 2 weeks trial of their premium service. I plan to do that once I have migrated all my emails into my gmail account to test the premium at its maximum. Give it a go if you are a Gmail user. 

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