John T. Plunkett teaches English to students in Lowell, Massachusetts and coaches the basketball team. He volunteers with Boy Scouts and works with the Youth Ministry for his church.
I am not worried about reaching Inbox Zero when dealing with email, although I will admit that I get a warm feeling whenever I see that empty inbox. What concerns me, and what I truly believe is the most important thing when dealing with email, is that I am able to determine the tasks and projects that I need to do, as well find any information that is essential.
If you think about it, email can be an horribly inefficient way to handle tasks. Every day I receive messages with projects from work, tasks from clients, chores from home, or assignments from school. They pour into my inbox, but then what? You can’t break the messages down to checklists. You can’t take notes on them. You can’t attach research. You can’t assign messages priorities other than to give it a star. You can’t even give a message a due date.
It is equally a poor place to process information even though we receive information via email every day. It might be a recipe from a friend. It might be a link to an important article sent from a co-worker. It might be a funny video from your kids. They pile up in our inboxes waiting for us to do something with them, but what? You could put them in a folder and hope to find them when you want them (if you remember). I don’t know about you, but I don’t relish the idea of having dozens of folders for each of my accounts. You could delete them as soon as you are done with reading them.
But what if you want to keep that recipe? What if you want to save that article? I guess you could print them out, but haven’t we gotten past that whole paper thing by now?
This is where CloudMagic makes a difference. It allows you to integrate your email with task applications like Trello, Asana, Todoist as well as other applications like Evernote or Pocket that can be effective at organizing information. CloudMagic accomplishes this through what they call ‘Cards’ and I will give you a couple of examples from my workflow to show you how this operates.
I look at my iPhone and notice that I have a message from the principal of the school I work at. I open the message in CloudMagic and see that she needs a status report on three students. At the top right of the message is an icon that looks like a stack of cards. I tap on it and the applications I have integrated, pop up. In my case these are Trello, Evernote and Pocket. I tap on Trello to ‘Add a Card’. A dialogue box pops up to show me that this email will be added to my Trello account. I can choose the board that I want it to go to, in this case ‘work’ and ‘Next Up’. I am able to assign it to somebody else if I decide to delegate it. One tap on the green ‘ADD’ button and it is now in my Trello account where I store all my tasks and projects.
With the email in Trello, I can turn it into a checklist so that I can check off each of the three reports as they are completed. I can also attach a copy of the form that I need to use. I can give it a due date and assign a priority. I can even write notes.
This is not possible with other email apps where I would have to leave the inbox, open Trello, create an entry, enter the info and then return to the email app to go through the rest of my messages. With so many steps I would probably just end up leaving the email in the inbox and delete it when I have completed the work… if I remembered to do so.
Continuing with this situation, while checking my messages, I also notice that my wife has sent me an email with a recipe she wants me to try. This is not a task, but it is something that I want to keep for later reference. I tap on the Cards icon again. This time, I select Evernote. I could select ‘Quick Save’ and just send it to the application, but I want to organize it better, so I tap on the ‘Edit & Save’. Now I can assign the recipe to my ‘Home’ notebook in Evernote and further assign it the tag ‘recipe’ without even leaving my inbox. When I select ‘Add’, it is automatically added to Evernote where I can easily find it whenever I decide to use it. I use this same process for things like receipts, articles, or any information that I might need later. The only thing that changes is the notebook or the tag.
These are just a couple of quick examples. With all the apps CloudMagic integrates, including things like Salesforce and Zendesk, there is no limit to the things that you can do. What is great about these cards is that they allow you to process an email immediately.
Once you save an email using Cards, you can archive or delete the email without any anxiety because the information is where you need it to be and can actually use it. Most importantly, it is no longer in your inbox, potentially lost amid the camouflage of all the other messages.