We have been really excited to hear our user’s feedback lately. We’ve heard that processing emails has become much easier. More importantly, users were able to achieve and maintain InboxZero more consistently; which is great news!
We have identified the following:
- Processing emails by treating them as possible tasks or projects or related to existing tasks or projects has helped users integrate emails into their natural workflow.
- Email & Tasks handling should be done in one app.
- The volume of emails processed was not compromised and stayed relatively the same (around 117 emails per day).
This is huge for us since it confirms what we suspected all along!
Earlier last year we identified four major challenges our email app will need to solve to become effective:
Challenge No. 1 “Combining email and tasks management”
One of the reasons we spend so much time on emails is because we process them ineffectively; or at least we don’t have the proper tools. In developing IQTell, we asked ourselves:
“Why do we have to have different apps for Emails & Tasks?”
Whether we like it or hate it, emails are the key form of communicating tasks, projects, etc. In addition, we all have our own tasks that we need to prioritize and manage. So when we decide what needs to get done and when, we need to consider both emails generated tasks as well as stand-alone tasks (e.g., those not generated from an incoming email).
Challenge No 2. “Fear of emptying our Inbox”
Ask users why they keep email in their inbox? The most common answer is “I don’t want to forget it about it” or “I’m not done with that yet”. With this approach, unless you do everything that is requested of you via email each and every day, you’ll never achieve Inbox Zero.
Your email should not be another to-do list but rather an inbox for you to read, understand what’s requested, and prioritized based on your current goals, objectives and items on your plate.
Once you process the emails, a task, projects, etc. is created with a link back to the email. So the email can be archived or moved into another email folder. You’ll be able to quickly filter your cumulative (email and non-email tasks) task list. When needed, the related email or emails are within your IQTell tasks or project. The app should be fetching your emails so you don’t have to keep them in your Inbox or worst yet, start a search mission to find those related emails.
Challenge No 3. “What did that email say?”
In the feedback we have received, re-shuffling emails to different folders, e.g., someday, tomorrow, next week, etc. seems nice. But it is superficial! Why?
Because after a few days (or even hours), we will have no recollection of what task or tasks are required to complete what was requested in the email. This means that over the course of completing what was done, we most likely have to read and splice the email several times.
Read the email once! As you read it, create a task with a clearly defined title. The email subject gives us nothing. Imagine filtering your to-do list based on email subject lines? Now, imagine filtering a clearly defined task list so you can easily decide what to do next. Why should I have re-open and re-read an email that’s 3 paragraphs long, when all that’s requested from me is to “Decided on the blue or yellow color for the logo?”
Challenge No 4. “Lack of speed kills?”
Let’s talk for a second about the elephant in the room…The speed in which you process emails is extremely essential for your workflow to be effective.
Just think about how much time you spend on creating a task out of an email, setting a priority, a due date and a reminder on that due date, and finally moving your email out of your inbox to an Archive or an All Mail folder? Quite time consuming. The best productivity gurus in the world can’t convince someone to process 117 emails daily this way!
Shortcuts (or Macros as we like to call them) are critical to help you automate your email processing. With one quick swipe, I can create a task, set a due date for next week, set a “High” priority and move that email to my All Mail folder, getting my inbox that much closer to Inbox Zero.
Those were the key challenges we tried to overcome with the IQTell App, what challenges do you think email and productivity apps will need to overcome in 2015?