If you are finding this blog for the first time, I encourage you to scroll back to Monday of last week and read each of the posts between that day and today. We have been using Toodledo as an example of a good digital to-do list. The data lives "in the cloud" and can be accessed from your computer, any of your mobile devices, and can be accessed from any computer with Internet access by logging into your account.
Get email from "in" to "empty" every day
Too many people suffer from an email Inbox that resembles a bottom-less pit. Much of the email represents things they need to do, even though what needs to be done won't happen for days or weeks. So, the email sits there, a constant reminder of what can't be done right now.
Toodledo offers a very simple way around this problem. When you create your account, you are assigned an email address. You will find this address by clicking on the "Tools" tab, then clicking on "More." One of the choices you will see on the next page is "Email Access." Click the "Configure" link you see on that panel. Here you will see your Toodledo email address. Be sure the box marked "Enable e-mail importing" is checked.
You will want to highlight and copy that email address. Go to your contacts and add a new contact called something like "Toodledo Tasks." In the email address field of this contact, paste your Toodledo email address and save.
From this point on, when you receive an email that embeds a "to-do," forward the email message to that Toodledo email address. The information shows up in Toodledo. The subject of the email will show up as the name of the task. The entire body of the email shows up in the note section of the task in Toodledo.You can use this technique whether you are reading email on your computer, one of your mobile devices, or from a public computer. If you have the ability to forward an email message, you have the ability to get that email into Toodledo.
Before sending, you can do some editing which gets the task to show up in Toodledo the way you wish. First, you can edit the subject line so that it better spells out what you need to do. Secondly, you can instruct Toodledo as to what start and due dates to assign. If I include in the subject line >1/21/13, Toodledo assigns a start date of January 21, 2013. Including in the subject line #1/21/13 sets a due date January 21, 2013. If I do not specify a due date, my due date defaults to today. Finally, I can edit the body of the email so that when I start to do the task, I will have the information I need. I can add additional information, delete superfluous information, and leave intact the information from the email which will help me complete the task.
The concept is that when you identify the emails that contain "to-dos" and get those into your to-do list, you have all the reminder you need. You no longer need to have the email in your Inbox as a reminder to do the task. You can file the email if you need to retain it for documentation purposes or simply delete it.
If you are an Outlook user, there is a similar technique. Read my post on "Getting from 'In' to 'Empty.'" If you use another web-based to-do list, look for a way to forward email to that list.
On Friday, we conclude this discussion with a couple of tools which make it easier to get tasks into Toodledo.
How many emails do you have in your Inbox right now? How do you keep from being overwhelmed by email?