Efficient email usage with Gmail’s tabbed Inbox

I have been using Gmail’s tabbed Inbox for quite a few weeks now.

I prefer to have Inbox Zero or close to it. My latest favourite tool was Mailbox. Using Mailbox I could quickly scan, action, delay or archive email messages while saving heaps of time and keeping my Inbox lean. But the new Gmail Inbox goes further for me. Key observations:

  • Smartness – The auto detection of email and sorting in various tabs really works well for 98% of my email.
  • Time saving – Because the auto detection works well, I can focus on getting the most important email out of the way first. All I need to do is check the Primary tab. Of course I can train Gmail to put specific email under a preferred tab.
  • Delete All – I get a lot of notifications from Facebook, Twitter and other services. I still want to receive them but do not necessary check them all the time. Because messages are automatically sorted under the Social or the Promotions tab, deleting read/unread/all messages is much easier. No need to search for “label:inbox from:facebook” and then deleting messages.

Overall, I am saving more time while focusing on the most important messages first. My Gmail Inbox is more organised. I still use Mailboxapp but it is my second favorite Email app for now.

 

To do more, keep it simple and keep it to minimum

I am a sucker when it comes to increasing productivity or doing things the smarter way and I am a bigger sucker when it comes to trying out software and services that helps to do the same. I think there will be millions of more like me! So every time there is a new productivity improving service out there or a great deal on web services, I pull myself aside for a minute and ask two questions:

  1. What problem of mine is this tool solving?
  2. Which of the existing tools or services that use can solve the same problem?
Answering these two questions, almost all of the time I come to a conclusion that my problem is either already solved with one of my existing tools/services or CAN BE solved by my existing tools or services. To improve your productivity you have to get more done in the time you have or even less time. To improve your productivity, keep your systems/workflow simple and get more done. Optimize your existing system instead of fragmenting your workflow too much and introducing more distractions. More systems/workflows means there is more management of systems and more distractions, which does not necessarily equate to getting more done.

So next time, before you spend a weekend trying a new tool or a new service, see if it will keep your existing workflow simple and to the minimum or will adding an extra tool going to add a lot of value in the long run.

6 ways to use Posterous and as part of a personal stream

This post is a response to Guy Kawasaki's post on 14 practical ways he uses Evernote. I have tried few times to get using Evernote as part of my personal information stream but it got all too difficult for me and did not make me productive. I believe in a simple [still sophisticated] system that makes me productive and in which my information stream can flow easily. I try to learn from the experts such as Steve Rubel and take the bits that are going to work for me.

I made a move to Posterous because of one most important thing, it was going to allow me to focus on my content and spend less time on getting setup. It has made writing easy for me. And since than Posterous is becoming a main part of my information stream. So let me touch on 6 ways to use a combination of Posterous and a bit of Gmail as a part of my personal stream.

To create a personal stream, I have created a Posterous blog which is protected and private. Only people with the password will be able to view the contents of my personal blog.

1. Taking Notes: – With multiple ways of adding content to Posterous taking notes is real easy. I can create a quick email and add tags in the subject line and I have added a note to my Posterous stream. I don't need to remember the name of the file nor on which computer or laptop or email I saved the file. I just have to either perform a quick search or sort by the tags that I have used.

2. Take Pictures & Videos: – [I can technically copy each and everything that Guy Kawasaki has used in his post except that Posterous has it's iPhone app]. I take pictures, screenshots and just put it send them to Posterous again via the email. For me the most common pictures are the pictures when I am in a store and want something but I think I might be able to get it cheaper elsewhere, I take a picture along with the price and then post it to Posterous as a reminder. I also take pictures of the books that I want to read later on and put it in my Gmail account in the 'Books to read' thread that I maintain. I don't use Posterous iPhone app a lot just yet, but email it in.

Photo

This pictures can be cheques, prescriptions, photos and videos. Post it, tag it/put a good description and then find it later on through the search.

3. Save Document: – I use my Posterous stream to save documents that I want to use for reference later on. One can send documents from word documents to PDF files along with other files types.

Screen_shot_2009-10-03_at_10

These are more of reference documents or brainstorming documents that I want to use for reference.

4. Photos of Business Cards: – I don't do this a lot myself but one can take photos graphs of business cards and send it to Posterous along with the name on the person/service in the subject line which will make searching easier later on when needed. I find it much more easy myself to convert the information from the Business Card to my Contacts manager.

5. Brainstorming topics: – I brainstorm and I brainstorm a lot. I use notebooks/email/Post It notes/Mindjet Mindmanager and now Posterous as a tool to brainstorm. If one is running a personal information stream on Posterous, one can send a topic on Posterous that needs brainstorming and then either keeping on adding information to that post or adding more information in the comments field. If the blog is public, than one can even create a private post and share it with a person with whom brainstorming needs to be done.

I at times brainstorm a topic in a graphical format in a notebook/sticky post, take a picture and send it to Posterous.

6. Retain Content and Websites: – I use Delicious as a bookmarking tool and I also use Google Reader, but when I read something that is inspirational/thought provoking or a venture idea for future I want to record it. So again, I post it on Posterous with description/tag for future use.

In summary, I am using Posterous a a good Content Archival System and between Posterous and Gmail I have a good system going on.

I don't miss Google Notebook at all now.

How are you managing your personal stream [Now don't tell me that you don't have one]?