(This post contains affiliate hyperlinks. Please read my full disclosure.
Sendtask was kind enough to sponsor this article!
Do you find yourself using your email inbox to create a To Do List? You get a message that needs to be actioned, but you have to respond to a query or attend a meeting right now. The email sits there until it is cleared out and you realize you should have done more with it.
How do you manage all these tasks? I asked my colleagues for their advice and they replied: “Put them into Microsoft Project.”
The problem is that I don’t want to use a full-featured project management tool for all the little things. It’s too complicated to add a task to my Gantt chart with the title “Proofread document from Legal Team”. Some tasks that I want to track might not be directly related.
A full-service project management solution may be more expensive depending on what you are tracking.
Here are five free options to help you stay on top of email management and keep tasks out of your inbox.
1. Use Sendtask for Email Management
Sendtask is an app that I discovered recently. It’s still in beta as of December 2017, when I am writing this, and it’s free to use!
Sendtask’s unique feature is that you don’t need to register for an account. It makes it easy to share information with suppliers and other third parties. The more we make it simple for others, the more likely they will be to adopt it. This is especially useful when you only need to involve someone temporarily. It is not a good idea to create an account for just one or two tasks.
The beta version of the tool doesn’t offer many features, but it isn’t difficult to use. To stay organized, you can add comments and attachments, follow tasks that interest you, set reminders, and tag tasks. This is all I would want to do.
Sendtask2 helps you organize your tasks. Spreadsheets are a great way to organize your tasks.
A spreadsheet should be set up with columns for the task number and date, description, owner, owner, updates, and status (closed, cancelled, on hold, cancelled, etc). You can streamline your inbox by copying tasks from emails and pasting them into the spreadsheet. Then, delete the email from your Inbox. This can be done with meeting minutes or other notes, so that everything is in one place.
This will give you a simple spreadsheet To Do List that you can filter by date, status, or any other criteria you have set up.
Although I love my spreadsheet (and I can get a copy here), it is limited. Sendtask and other apps offer more structure and organization. Excel will never remind you when a task is due, or integrate with Slack.
It’s easier to integrate apps with other tools that you use. Here’s how Sendtask integrates to Slack. I don’t allow anyone else to update my spreadsheet. Sometimes I will email the file to my team and ask them to email it back with the changes they have made. However, I will make the updates manually in the master file.
This is a huge duplication of work. It would be much better if other people could update their task progress directly without affecting the integrity or history. Apps do this better than task tracking in a spreadsheet. However, I still rely on Excel files for simple projects.
3. Use Chrome/Gmail Extensions to Manage Your Email Organization
There are extensions and plugins for Chrome and Gmail available that will upgrade your webmail to email software. These plugins and extensions can help you create tasks lists, convert emails into To Do items in Google docs, and other things.
This works only if your company uses Gmail as its backend email system. Many people don’t use Gmail. I use Microsoft Outlook and Lotus Notes before that. Both I prefer Gmail to them both.