I'm doing email wrong - help me out

We use G Suite app for our business. All this time I have been using Chrome and Gmail which is great when my laptop is plugged in and when I was using High Sierra. But now I have upgraded my 2012 Mbp 15 to Mojave I am finding Chrome quite sluggish.

I am now on Safari and quite frankly Gmail on the web is not the same on Safari as it is with Chrome. So I have setup email on both Mail app and Outlook app on the Mac.

Outlook app is great - the swiss army knife.
Mail app is great too - very minimalist and super fast though I hate how it shows email with attachments. Some attachments will have full preview and some will be inline??? Go figure.
Any preference on email clients?

So to the crux of the matter: I usually process emails by marking important email as unread most of the time. Sometimes I would flag them. But at any given time I will have about 20-30 unread emails waiting to be acted upon. I have usually opened these emails and then marked them unread again to remind me that these need to be acted upon. Productivity wise is this ok?

Or should I be opening all unread emails and those that need to be acted on should be flagged immediately?

I also email myself interesting articles from my iPhone that I would like to read later on my laptop. Those usually stay unread until I decide to open the email and read the damn article or in most cases the email gets deleted after some weeks!

How do you guys go about this?

I recently found this report to be of great insight.

The approach taken in GTD, with its steps to process + act-on + review, is also useful to adapt.

Rather than flag email, I am moving to an approach that uses Gmail labels such as

  • -> act on
  • -> reply
  • -> file

Email in act on gets translated to an OmniFocus task. Email in reply gets … a reply. Email in file … yep, it is put to a local folder.

I have other Gmail labels such as -> discourse and -> meetings. They are part of an ongoing experiment to revamp my email processing methods.

Perhaps this brings some useful insights.



I’d find a way (Safari reading list, Pinboard, Pocket etc.) to save the reading material without using email. I think it works best for time and distraction management to separate communication/action which needs to be done in email from consumption which doesn’t.

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Acting on mail messages is the same as any other task in that it contends for your time, attention and priorities. So I always add a link to the message to OmniFocus and manage the task there. In the context of all other projects and tasks.

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I don’t have OF, When you send an email as task to OF does it send the entire email including all its attachments? What happens then? The email in your email app is marked as read and not flagged. Its then in your OF list as a task?

It’s possible to configure OmniFocus to accept messages forwaded to a special OF address – the entire message body (not attachments) ends up in the task in the OF Inbox. From that point you can add it to whatever project you desire.

The alternative (which I prefer) is to select a message in Mail, then invoke the OF service from Mail’s Services menu. This opens a dialog like this – message subject as name of the task; link to the message in the text box (“Original Message”), and I can in that dialog add project, tag, defer date, or due date. (Sorry Mail’s dark mode makes the dialog a bit dim.)


I use Outlook for work email since we are Microsoft Exchange. The meeting invites, viewing calendars of other people, etc. just seems to work best on that calendar. I used the standard mail app for my personal email.

To get things out of my email inbox I forward it to Evernote. I have an Evernote stack as something of a to-do list. Sometimes with emails I am adding notes, setting a reminder to check back in with someone etc.


The quick reference notebook is for my staff extensions, account codes, etc. This system works well for me.

This might help: http://www.43folders.com/izero

(especially the video of the Inbox Zero presentation Merlin Mann gave at Google)

Thank you all for your suggestions and tips!