Email help from Gmail experts; Difficulty - key GTD needs would be nice
June 8, 2014 3:46 PM   Subscribe

I want to fly through my email. GTD/Zero inbox style. Trouble multiple accounts including .Mac, gmail and Gmail for business. I thought I found a desktop client - MailPilot for OSX - but it's just not doing well enough (it's development is too slow.) Meanwhile, I hear that you can be super clever with Gmail - More inside!

I’m a big believer in triaging email - mostly because I can’t it in front of it all day-I get 2-3 times of less than 20 min…and then can really deal at the end of the day.

So, it’s GTD style. Anything less than 2 min, answered right away during those windows.. Everything else is set aside and gone through later.

Apple Mail began to fail for me - mostly because of some plugins I used were buggy (MailTags and Mail Act on.) I gave up Apple Mail for MailPilot about 2 months ago.

MailPilot has literally what I want - a quick, keyboard driven way to:
* reply
* set aside
* archive
* Sent to a list
* Remind me in x days

And read or not, it sits in the inbox till processed.

Except the rest of the MailPilot experience? Painful. Poor message creation, difficulty with attachments, no data detectors, difficulty following longer threads.

So, basically, gmail geniuses - how would you deal with this?

Extra Credit: I’d still like some a great OSX (and win8) experience. I heard *great* things about Postbox.
posted by filmgeek to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: I should add that my email is strewn across .Mac, gmail, and gmail for businesses.
posted by filmgeek at 3:49 PM on June 8, 2014

Have all your mail aggregated in one Gmail account (I'd recommend your Business account since you'll have some support), set up Gmail to respond as the receiving account, and use Active Inbox.
posted by youknowwhatpart at 4:22 PM on June 8, 2014

Response by poster: youknowwhatpart - I have the business account - but at the free level (for about 4-5 different domains.)

I can always upgrade, of course.

Active inbox looks great! Do you do this right now? Are you using a new email address for the joint group? I have two domanins with my name on that that I could do that with.

Any advice or mistakes you've made, that'd you'd do differently?
posted by filmgeek at 4:35 PM on June 8, 2014

You do have keyboard shortcuts turned on for gmail right? It's in settings and makes a huge difference in speed.
posted by viggorlijah at 5:17 PM on June 8, 2014

I do use ActiveInbox now, but only for a single account and not on a joint account. If you need to have a workflow that deals with all your accounts, I would argue that bringing everything into one inbox will greatly simplify your life.

AI is great from the GTD perspective because you easily classify and move on. I typically can process my inbox on a busy day in under and hour, including the time it takes me to reply or delegate a few messages. My biggest mistake when using AI wasn't being strict about the methodology. I would typically flag something for action that day without spending the time to evaluate if it was realistic that I would actually work on that thing today.

The other thing I mistakenly did was try to use everything in AI right off the bat. I've been using it for 6 months or so now and finally have a decent workflow that lets me use aspects like Projects, but trying to adopt that in the first month or two hurt my ability to learn the core of the product. Looking back, I tried to shoehorn in everything because I had that free month, but that's not really enough to set the hook on a new workflow.

I would also strongly second viggorlijah's suggestion on using keyboard shortcuts. There are an overwhelming number of them so pick a useful-looking one and use it religiously for a week. After a while, many of them will be muscle memory. I'd suggest starting with j (next), k (previous), x (select), e (archive). Then, learn shortcuts that fit your workflow.
posted by youknowwhatpart at 5:46 PM on June 8, 2014

Response by poster: :D I'm a huge keyboard shortcut person already - that I'll have down.

Great details about trying to do too much on day 0.
posted by filmgeek at 5:50 PM on June 8, 2014

Response by poster: Do I want my other email accounts (gmail) to be fetched via POP or IMAP?

Gmails instructions are here

The setup is POP - meaning that the email gets fetched and marked "read".
But I've been in the IMAP mindset so long that I'm afraid of POP.
posted by filmgeek at 6:29 AM on June 9, 2014

Here is the 4ster Method:

1. I forward everything to a central Gmail account, but set it up so that I can send from multiple accounts (business and personal).

2. Create labels called @Needs Action, @Waiting, and @Hold.

3. Go to the Multiple Inboxes feature in Settings and create inboxes with the same names and create a rule that they will show email with the corresponding labels.

Here is how I label messages:

Needs Action = Anything that takes more than 2 minutes to answer (i.e. I have to do some research before answering it).

Waiting = Anything I am waiting for. UPS shipping notices go here, as do any email that I am waiting for a reply from. Anytime I ask someone to do something for me, I copy myself on it, and then drag it to @Waiting when it shows up in my inbox.

Hold: Short-term, easy-access storage (i.e. my hotel reservation for tonight, the agenda for tomorrow night's meeting).

Archive: Someday, I may need to find this email.

Delete: I will never need this again.

The Multiple Inbox feature is marvelous, because in one glance, on one page, I can see new email in my inbox. Beneath that are all my action items. Beneath my action items is a list of everything I have delegated to others or am otherwise waiting for. Beneath that is stuff I know I will need to access quickly over the short-term.

Then, each week, I process the Needs Action, archive the Waiting For stuff that I am no longer waiting for (or remind the people who still need to get back to me), and archive or delete the stuff in Hold, since that is short-term storage.

I also use the Mailplane app on the Mac for this, but a browser works fine. The reason I do it this way is because I can see everything at once, instead of having to go into separate folders to see my Needs Action, Waiting For, and Hold stuff.
posted by 4ster at 7:47 AM on June 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Coming back late. I would keep using IMAP, unless space in the source accounts is an issue. POP is usually for when you want to transfer mail off the source account in my experience.

You can also set a forward at the source account to your unified account. Personally, I would pull from the unified account via IMAP, but that's just a preference.
posted by youknowwhatpart at 6:37 PM on June 9, 2014

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