I’m back in the UK after a week taking absolute delight in discovering how things get done in New York.
(That’s probably an article for another day, but the summary is that in contrast to almost anywhere else I’ve been, it’s the density that makes New York magical – people who inspire you, people who can help you, people you can contribute to, and the background buzz of that many humans just doing things, who are all easily reachable in minutes rather than hours, just accelerates everything you want to achieve and expands your mind to new possibilities. Ok ok, I’ll stop the nauseating gushing now…).
I got to learn your best practices
Despite the invitation to meet being very last minute, I got a chance to see four ActiveInboxers.
David Shalev (whose chosen surname actually means tranquility!) has made it his business to meet with highly stressed execs, understand their true frustrations, and teach them the optimal way to use technology to rise above the sensation of being overwhelmed.
When he discovered ActiveInbox it was a dream for bringing email under control, and it’s now taught to all his clients. Which was wonderful for me, because it meant David (incredibly warm hearted despite being utterly jet-lagged) had received tons of insights into how we can tweak ActiveInbox to be more useful to a wide range of people while reducing the amount they have to learn.
Andrew Gross was calm and steady, despite doing a job that would reduce me to the shape of a ball in the corner – he was a project manager with hundreds of projects, and nearly as many clients and colleagues. Naturally, his demands on his tech tools were extreme, but he’d figured out a powerful solution for handling the volume, built largely around email management.
The most enlightening perspective he told me was that he sees his email as his own personal knowledge base, and uses filters to automatically assign notifications from the other tools his company uses.
This means that all the information in his life is neatly organized by project and ‘type’ (e.g. ‘meeting minutes’) and priority status if he needs to do something.
And one of the best payoffs from doing this is searchability… using Gmail’s superior search meant he had one input box from which he could find everything, rather than logging into all the different systems his company used and using their inferior and fragmented search mechanisms.
The good news is that I’m slowly feeding what I learnt back into our support docs, to share with everyone.
I have a much better understanding of the possibilities that lie ahead
The most common theme of the ideas we discussed (and we discussed many ideas!), was “Ok, you’ve helped me organize everything and empty my inbox, now guide me to help me complete it”.
Chris Rodriguez was particularly inspired in his thinking on this, and I really liked his suggestion (influenced by Google Now) that if ActiveInbox notices you’re replying to ‘Bob’, to automatically pull together a dossier about ‘Bob’ to help you effortlessly write a reply that clears up as much as possible in the minimum amount of time.
And the other big idea was to reduce the things you have to do into bite-sized chunks, which ActiveInbox then suggests you do at opportune times (e.g. when there’s a break in your calendar). This would be so much better than just being faced with a terrifyingly large list.
Meanwhile, Samer needed the control of ActiveInbox for his own emails, but also to share customer conversations with his team, ideally via his CRM. I.e. he either needs to be able to say ‘Share this conversation with Sue’, or ‘Sync this conversation into my company CRM’. Fortunately, integrations are very much on our roadmap.
This, and much more, will be discussed on the blog and in the forum in coming months!
I want to do more of this
The take-away for me, other than ActiveInboxers are an interesting and lovely bunch, was that I want to spend much more of my time meeting you all. Over coffee if we’re in the same town, and via Skype if not.
This use of my time needs to be balanced with the demands of improving ActiveInbox and providing a level of support I’m deeply proud of – as much as I’d love to I can’t spend all my day in coffee shops 😉 – but I’ll be reaching out to as many of you as I can from now on.
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This post was written by andymitchell9496