A New Approach for Consideration: Skipping Email Apps Altogether

Some of the comments in the Hey.com discussion prompted a thought. Like many of you, I am better off getting all emails OUT of my Inbox and INTO my task manager. In this case, that’s Omnifocus. So here’s the thought, and I’d love feedback:

Is it possible, and would it be useful, to route ALL my emails into my task manager? I know what you’re thinking: why are you going to clutter up your task manager with every email that arrives?

But those emails in my inbox are already tasks I have to deal with, however briefly. So I archive them or act on them or send them to Omnifocus for later. So why not SKIP THE STEP of opening my email app at all?

Omnifocus allows custom perspectives. If I could create a specific tag for email and set up a perspective that effectively acts as my inbox, I could simply open my task manager in the morning and deal with my emails there. If I need to respond to something, I can always click the link back to the original email (in Mailmate, in my case). Otherwise, the email doesn’t get opened while I triage, and the temptation to get distracted goes away.

Does this make sense for someone who gets hundreds of emails? Probably not (although if you isolate the email to a custom perspective in Omnifocus, it probably doesn’t hurt anything, either). But for me, I have gotten rid of lots of email newsletters and I’m filtering out stuff I don’t need to see with custom mailboxes already.

I think I could make this happen with Zapier, if not some kind of other workflow I haven’t thought of yet.

Thoughts? Feedback? How ridiculous is this?

Couldn’t you just set up your email account to forward everything to the OmniFocus Mail Drop address?

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Yeah, I suppose you’re right. I haven’t used that forward address for a while, so I forgot it was there.

Since posting this, I’ve realized there are some issues with the idea. One is that I still need to get that crap out of my inbox (although maybe Inbox Zero isn’t important if I’m not in my email). I guess I could auto-archive everything after forwarding.

The second issue is threading of emails. But in practice, that may also not be an issue if I’m triaging my email entirely inside my task manager and only use Mailmate to SEND actual emails.

As far as I remember there is an optional (IAP) feature in 2Do that does exactly that. I can’t tell you more about it because I never pursued that path, though; I think triaging is more efficient in the email clients.

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I would not like this: we already lost control of our email inbox. Forwarding all mails to the trusted (GTD) system would mean losing control of that inbox as well. I’d rather be in charge of what gets into my system.

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Good point. If I try it, it will only be with some strict enforcement of a custom perspective that isolates email. If I need to add that email to my “real” task list, I would just remove the “Email” tag. Otherwise I would mark it as done (the equivalent of archiving in email).

Yeah…so I dig the idea first off. Using OmniFocus like this may create more friction than you’re saving. Personally, I let email do it’s thing and the task manager do its thing.

If it’s more a matter of managing your inbox; what about setting up smart mailboxes or filters?

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Love the initial idea but I think you’re just shifting the problem.

Here’s what I’ve done:

  1. Create an “Optional” folder using Gmail filters to automatically segment any email that contains the word “unsubscribe” within the body.
  2. Whatever is leftover should be somewhat important but some will slip through. To handle these, I apply the 3 D’s (Do, Delegate, Delete), focusing on what can quickly be deleted first.
  3. By this stage, I have 5-10 emails to actually look at and each is added to Todoist via Spark’s integration.
  4. At this point, I have not responded to a single email. Instead, I’ve thrown them into my Todoist inbox to be prioritized.

It’s very dangerous to assume that emails are tasks that should be handled “now”. Instead, they need to be prioritized relative to every other task that needs to be completed.

Is this system full-proof? No. Has it helped reduce my email overwhelm without dropping the ball? Yes! :nerd_face:

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I understand the motivation, but agree with those above, that substituting OF, a task list, for an email client is not a good match. There again, everyone is different, and it might be the cat’s meow for you :cat:.

Spark does a good job of sorting email like the optional folder you’re talking about.
I’m currently using a hybrid MailMate/SpamSieve and Spark workflow, as I haven’t looked into integrating SpamSieve with Spark.

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