Simplified "GTD" with Mail.app - your suggestions?

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by MiataMac, Dec 19, 2008.

  1. MiataMac macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2008
    #1
    I'm trying to figure out an efficient and simply way to have some kind of "GTD"-feature in Mail.app using Smart mailboxes and possible MailActOn if necessary.

    I use Mail.app for both work and personal, and I have my work and personal e-mail addresses forward it all for my MobileMe account so I also have access from my iPhone and other Mac.

    For work, most tasks usually come on e-mail, so I have the following options:

    • Read it & delete/archive it
    • Read it and REPLY
    • Read it & do the task
    • Read it, do the task and REPLY when done

    Now, I just leave the "to-do's" in my Inbox as unread messages, even after reading them a few times. This way I never forget them and I can go back and find my tasks that way. But that also means that if I have 5 unread mails for today and new mails arrive, my Inbox will show maybe 8 unread mails even though only 3 of them are actually new, since last I checked.

    Local mailfolders is a bad thing, as if I archive them there I would not have access to them from iPhone.

    How do you guys do, with flagging messages, smart mailboxes, local mailboxes etc?

    Getting an external GTD program is not an option. I want simplicity and would prefer not having a bunch of tough plugins for Mail.app that could risk not working when 10.5.7 comes out (for instance) or cause other crashes.
     
  2. macsteps macrumors newbie

    macsteps

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2008
    Location:
    Munich, Germany
    #2
    I'm currently using Mail Act-On to sort incoming mail into these folders:

    1 - Action (for stuff I need to somehow act on)
    2 - Read (for stuff I *need* to read; might-want-to-read goes into #5)
    3 - Reply (email I need to reply to)
    4 - Wait (emails I BCC-ed to myself and I'm waiting for an answer on)
    5 - Someday / Maybe (low priority stuff that sounds interesting, for when I have some idle time)

    I have keyboard shortcuts ctrl+1 to ctrl+5 set up for moving emails into these folders. I usually work only out of the first 4 mailboxes, I hardly ever look into the someday/maybe folder.

    Having everything locally isn't an issue for me, because I work from home and don't need/want all my to-do stuff along with me on the iPhone.

    Tom
     
  3. MiataMac thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2008
    #3
    Tom, that's what I'm talking about ... efficient but simple :D

    I guess I could have Mail ActOn put the mails into an IMAP folder so I *can* access it from the iPhone, but there's 1 (out of 3) work e-mail account I only get as POP3, as it's a bit too customer-related so I don't want it to mess up my "professional" and private Inbox/IMAP, but I'll figure out something.

    Few questions though, if you don't mind:

    So when you have acted on it, do you delete/archive the mail or simply mark it as *read*? And do you have them as unread, flagged or simply just as read in the Action mailbox?

    This is interesting. I often find myself thinking "Didn't I email somebody about something last week? What the h..... was it now?" because sometimes you just forget WHAT you're waiting for and/or WHO you're waiting for :)

    So my question is: Do you have some kind of rule to link the "reply" (on the "waiting for"-mail) to your BCC'ed mail so you can easily locate the BCC'ed mail and delete it, or whatever you do?

    This is a good one for "Bacn" :D
     
  4. macsteps macrumors newbie

    macsteps

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2008
    Location:
    Munich, Germany
    #4
    It's just move the message as-is; no flagging or marking as unread. And when I'm done with them I either archive them or delete them. I try to delete as many emails as I possibly can. If I'm absolutely sure I'll never need an email again, I trash it.

    I don't have any such rule, although that would be cool. The problem with moving a message to the waiting folder is that it's not in the inbox, so I can't make any use of the thread view which would be very handy for follow-ups. But I'm usually not waiting for that many replies, so I'm able to keep track of them manually. Although I do often forget to archive/delete emails from the waiting folder sometimes.

    LOL! That describes it perfectly!

    Tom
     
  5. MiataMac thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2008
    #5
    I wonder if the "thread view" works based on subject only or if it also requires some link between the sender/recipient and the subject. Otherwise this might work:
    1) You receive an email from a customer, you need to research something
    2) You e-mail your supplier or something and ask for whatever necessary

    Then one of two things can happen:
    1) Supplier replies and you reply to the customer (but you have to locate the customers mail again, either in the "Waiting" folder if you can remember customers name / subject) - OR maybe in some kind of "thread view" if you keep the same subject in the mail to your supplier.

    Or...
    2) Supplier never replies / takes a long time and you have to pull for a reply. But if you don't leave the customer e-mail "unread" or somehow flagged, one might forget about it and the issue is never solved.

    I might have to check out thread view tomorrow and see what it's worth.


    Don't you use Smart Mailboxes any way?


    By the way, I don't remember if this is the app I have at my other Mac - this is freeware, think I paid for it once - http://www.apple.com/downloads/macosx/email_chat/mailbadger.html but check it out, you can have multiple "badges" on the Mail dock icon, ie. to indicate amount of mails in "Waiting"-folder etc., so you can easily keep up to date with how many mails are in different folders, without actually switching to Mail.app.
     
  6. macsteps macrumors newbie

    macsteps

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2008
    Location:
    Munich, Germany
    #6
    I'm guessing the recipient and the subject both have to match, so using the same subject line in the email to the supplier probably wouldn't make it appear in the same thread. For something like that you'd probably need some sort of customer relationship mgmt program. Daylite, for example, is able to link virtually anything with anything else and would probably be able to support that kind of workflow.

    Only a handful, I haven't really gotten into them that much. I bet I could do a lot more with Mail.app than I'm currently doing. Mail Act-On, MailTags, AppleScript and whatever else could probably make Mail.app a pretty good productivity tool. But I try do do as much as I can in one app, and that app is OmniFocus (at least for now).

    The thing is, I don't really want to know how many messages I have waiting or I need to act on, unless I'm actually in Mail.app. It's about minimizing distractions. Seeing those badges in the Dock all the time would give me anxiety attacks throughout the day ;)

    Tom
     
  7. MiataMac thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2008
    #7
    I suppose you're right :) Just need to know when new mail arrives so you can decide if it's something you gotta do NOW or can act on it for later processing/reading.
     

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