Email can easily get out of control for school leaders and anyone else who has a lot to deal with. Among the challenges email presents:
- Anyone can email you
- It’s easy for other people to create work for you
- A single email can have several tasks embedded in it
- The work that needs to be done to handle an email often isn’t stated very clearly
- Emails are hard to organize in a useful way, so if you have more than a handful, you have little choice but to handle them in the order they showed up
The solution? Use a task app alongside your email app.
Task apps like Remember the Milk, Nozbe, ToDoist (my current favorite), and the dozens of others on the market can make a huge difference.
Old School: Outlook
We’ve known for a long time that we need to handle emails with task management in mind, and for more than a decade, Microsoft Outlook has included a task feature.
Drag an email to the Tasks bar in Outlook, and you’ll create a new task with the email attached. It’s not a bad system.
Unfortunately, in our newly mobile world, that’s not very helpful. I read 90% of my email on my phone first, and only open it on my computer if I need to.
The more I can handle it once and be done with it, the better, and that means I need a solution that works from my iPhone and iPad.
A New Approach for A Mobile World
It’s great to have apps for all the devices we use today, but what if some of those devices don’t give us full control?
What if you use a school computer that you can’t install software on? What if you use an iPhone, and 3rd-party apps can’t integrate with the email client?
Here’s my favorite feature of modern task apps like ToDoist: Email input.
Get an email, decide that it needs to go on your to-do list, and simply forward it to a special address that the app gives you.
The app’s servers will receive the email and put it in your task inbox. (And yes, your to-do list needs an inbox too!)
Even better, you can create a project and get a project-specific email address, so tasks can be forwarded straight into that project.
Where We Live
When we’re working at our computers—which, as school leaders, should only be a small part of the actual school day—where do we “live”?
For too many of us, it’s in our email inbox. Email will consume all of our time if we let it.
If instead we use a smart app like ToDoist to manage our tasks, email becomes simply a communication tool, and we can do the work in a better-designed task management environment.
What’s your favorite task app? How do you use it?
ToDoist Tutorials Coming Soon
This week, I’m filming a detailed set of tutorial videos on ToDoist for my GoingDigital series for members of the High-Performance Instructional Leadership Network. If you’re a member of the Network, expect to receive the first videos later this week.