As a Project Manager at a digital agency, I live and die by my inbox. It's where every PM tool I use converges into a hub of notifications, important documents, questions and change requests.
Time is money. Spending time manicuring your inbox improves communication, reduces overhead and reduces oversights.
What's missing from your inbox?
Most out-of-the-box inbox services lack one core feature: the ability to turn emails into actionable tasks. I use Gmail both at work and personally, and I've long felt that "Starring" emails isn't actually useful when setting up a workflow that involves multiple projects. When everything in your inbox has the same level of priority, then no particular thing is accurately prioritized. Not to mention setting up complex filtering rules takes time, and risks important messages slipping through the cracks.
A year ago, I was looking for a way to manage follow-up reminders, checklists and due dates all in one, authoritative place. Right in Gmail. No questions asked. I found ActiveInbox, which does exactly that and then some.
The most important task management system
The beauty of ActiveInbox's "Action" feature is that you can task-ify emails. You can set a response due date, archive it, and it will pop back up in your inbox when the due date approaches. You can even add checklists to emails (which for me, completely eliminated the need for external checklist tools). Nifty, right?
Never lose track of what you're expecting
The “Waiting On” feature allows you to set a reminder for responses that your team depends on. It's fairly similar to the "Action" feature, but allows you to quickly distinguish which tasks are in your court, and which are pending an update from a client or team member.
Clear your mind! Achieve Inbox Zero
Reminders and checklists are swell, but my favorite facet of ActiveInbox is the liberation it provides from having to sift through countless pages of messages. As a PM, there's something psychologically rewarding about being able to turn tasks into actions, schedule resolutions and sort my inbox down to zero.
Stay focused on what matters
When I'm in the heat of a launch week or suddenly extinguishing multiple fires, "Focus mode" helps by filtering out the visual "noise". My inbox becomes a punch list guided by three questions:
- What do I need to do today?
- What's coming up soon?
- Who do I need to touch base with, and when?
I encourage you to try out ActiveInbox. Let me know what you think! I hope it's as useful for your personal task management as it's been for me.