What Have We Been Doing?

In the last few months many of you have shared with me – via email & Skype – how you work, especially using email. That has been truly useful.

Pete & I also took several trips to meet people in person and bounce ideas around, spending time in London and San Francisco. These were often the most fertile discussions for sparking fresh ideas and debating their merits.

But ultimately we want to boil the ideas down to the handful of things that _really_ matter. To cut the noise, and just focus on solving the one or two problems that are deepest in email. Fortunately, we’ve got all those discussions – as well as 4 years of trial and error! – to feed into our understanding.

Now we’d like to get your feedback on the new ideas before we commence 🙂

Thinking About Email

Email Is Your First Line Of Defense Against Incoming Tasks

No matter what task manager you use (be it pen & paper, a computer task list or a collaborative project management system), because it cannot easily communicate with other people’s tools, everyone resorts to email in order to discuss projects & tasks. Email is the lowest common denominator that connects us all, and that makes it incredibly useful – and means that no matter what any futurist says, it will be around for decades to come.

It also means that the majority of our tasks originate in the inbox.

Almost all solutions currently on the market are task managers that slightly “integrate” with email. They do this to pull email out of your inbox and into their system, which is another silo, another island of tasks… yet another system to be maintained alongside email.

Email Is At The Center Of Our Workflow

But most of us are too busy, and have too little interest in actively managing multiple systems, to duplicate an email into a new task and manage them both. The email IS the task. And the email client is the one app we have open for 80% of the day. For better or worse, email is at the center of our workflow. It is the other systems that should plug in with our email.

Of course, there is still a major hurdle here: collaborating on projects. Email is just for individuals, it’s ‘your’ inbox and ‘your’ client. When we need to coordinate projects, or track things as a team, it still makes sense to have specialized system. For this subset of email, we need to escalate the email out of the inbox and into our preferred systems.

A Radical New Approach That Combines Email, Task & Project Management

ActiveInbox fills a gap in our workflow, to manage the tasks in our inboxes that are too small/fast-moving to be worth escalating to another system, but still need controlling to get work done.

And, it will help with escalation by connecting to your other systems. This will make your email client the true hub of your daily workflow.

In essence, ActiveInbox is task management entirely within email, using just emails. It works just the way you do.

With tongue slightly in cheek, you could just call it “task management for lazy/busy people”. Don’t create another task silo, just manage them AS emails, and escalate only when you really have to.

Over the next few days, I’ll discuss the upcoming mockups we have for 4.0, and get your feedback. Be as harsh and critical – or excited! – as you can, for it’s best to get a deeper understanding now, before coding starts.


This was written by Andy Mitchell