Email client applications are all much of a muchness; some do more than others with tagging, highlighting and rules, but in the main they ultimately allow you to read email.
From a ‘Getting Things Done‘ (GTD) perspective, email has been the one ‘inbox’ (in the sense of GTD) that has been incongruous to the rest in my system; I’ve found it really difficult to smoothly integrate emails in my inbox into my GTD workflow.
Amongst other methods, I’ve tried:
- Tagging emails with project and a ‘verb’ (“@action”, “@waitingfor”, “@sometime”) (but this leaves me with more than one place to review items);
- Copying the email into Evernote (with tags), archiving the email and adding a task to Wunderlist (which works, but is ungainly and inelegant);
- Simply adding a task to Wunderlist (with tags), archiving the email and relying on the Mail application’s search features to find the email when the time comes to process the task (which is the easiest at getting me to ‘Inbox zero’, but has the potential to make later review that much harder).
(Although not explicit above, you can read ‘Wunderlist’ as ‘Wunderlist/calendar’.)
Mail Pilot is a Kickstarter funded project which has garnered over 150% funding, such is the demand for an email application that has been completely re-thought from the bottom up. Rather than new emails coming in as ‘unread’ they arrive as ‘incomplete’. They remain in this state even after you’ve read them; only when you mark them ‘complete’, do they disappear from your inbox. If you don’t want to process (complete) the email there and then, you can mark it for review. Like completed items, items for review are removed from your inbox. When you mark something for review you can optionally select a date for it’s review (and on that date, it’ll pop back into your inbox) and whether to add it to a particular list, or not. Review items that are not dated can be manually reviewed in ‘Review mode’.
The re-imagining of the inbox as a to-do list looks great as a GTD tool; quickly complete short tasks, mark items for review later, assign to lists (sometime, never, contact-specific, project-specific). It still leaves a couple of holes, though. Firstly, it’s still separate from the other ways in which items enter the (GTD) inbox – word of mouth, text messages, actions from meetings, etc – although it may be feasible to make Mail-Pilot the single GTD inbox by creating notes or emails to oneself. Not sure that that’s the ideal solution, but the alternatives are either to copy actionable items from Mail Pilot into Wunderlist or to have 2 inboxes. The second hole is with reference material – this still needs consolidating into (in my case) Evernote (though this is no different to my current situation).
So in conclusion, I’m looking forward to being able to try out Mail Pilot. I hope it lives up to the praise it’s followers and beta users are bestowing upon it. I can’t imagine that it won’t be a great application – eMail client applications have been in need of a re-think for a long time and this is most definitely a massive leap in the right direction. I’m still undecided as to whether it fulfils all the GTD needs and I’m not sure that ‘the general public’ will go for a paid subscription model in order to have the ‘new mail experience’, but time will tell.
Have you tried Mail Pilot? Are you one of the Kickstarter funders and beta testers? If so, I would love to hear from you! Post a comment below and let me know how you’ve been getting on with it.