Productivity 101: Using email as a todo list

Source https://xkcd.com/874/
Source https://xkcd.com/874/

Everyone is making an email killer these days. Slack, looking at you there. But we all know getting emails out of the system is [not the best](http://www.feld.com/archives/2016/03/help-understand-value-slack-instead-email-list.html) thing.

Before resorting to this method, I tried many things. Ranging from physical todo list on paper, trello.com, basecamp.com (still testing it in parallel for personal work) to rolling out my own solution Todo Matrix ( based on Eisenhower matrix, I did not know that it is called that when I implemented it ) on Android and iOS.

Email can be the cause of distraction (on both personal, professional front) though which is why software like basecamp (the work can wait feature), google inbox and many other provide an option to snooze notifications. I tinkered with using email as a todo list and the following is what worked best for me.

  1. Step 1, remove all email notifications for mobile.
    This was a massive productivity booster, too many emails creep in with a notification to distract you (logs, spam, promotional and what not). Yes, some emails can be important but work / email can wait.
  2. Then I use this nifty little gmail feature. Showingunread emails on top.
Setting unread first in gmail
Setting unread first in gmail

3. Voila, we are done. Unread emails are my tasks. Anything that is important is followed up on and automatically comes on top. Only finished tasks go out of unread.

The end goal to achieve productivity is to have no unread emails ( I hated them anyways, I think most people have an OCD of not having any unread emails in their inbox ). I approach this list in two ways. Taking up bigger tasks in one go when I have a stretch of time ( Like start of the day or just after lunch ). Clean up the small tasks during the smaller pockets of time ( like just before lunch or leaving ).

I have been trying this method for about a month now. And it is working well so far. I haven’t been using this for my personal work though. For that I am trying out both basecamp and basecamp 3 and that too is working amazingly.