Would you use a todo list where all your tasks are created by someone else, and you can’t prioritize or rearrange them? Of course not. How would you know what to do next? Using a todo list sorted only by creation time would be incredibly frustrating. But that’s exactly what email is.
The past few decades have brought great innovation in organization methods like GTD and Kanban boards, with thousands of unique todo list apps in the app stores. But email has worked essentially the same way for the past 40 years, sorted by time and organized in folders. Getting a new message was fun when email was designed in the 1970s, but email is now a nonstop deluge of incoming work and software needs to adapt.
The average professional spends 28% of their time in email, trying to manage and organize their work in a system clearly not designed for it. So it’s time to redesign the way email works. The technology itself doesn’t necessarily need to change, but the tools for reading and managing email need an upgrade.
A list sorted by time is fundamentally unmanageable
When you get an email, you have to read it and handle it immediately. If you don’t, it falls off the bottom of your inbox and you’ll never see it again. The only way to remember an email is to keep it in view.
Star, Mark as Unread, and Snooze all do the same thing, pushing emails to the top of the list. But there’s no way to differentiate between emails containing important tasks, questions that need a response, articles to read later, or coupons for chicken. So you have to constantly scan through an ever-increasing list of tasks to determine which to deal with next.
And if you try organizing emails into folders, you’ll soon realize that you never look through your folders, and those emails are gone forever.
Once the list gets too long and you’re drowning in a sea of emails, the only thing you can do is give up. You declare Email Bankruptcy (yes that’s a real thing), delete everything, and start over. The only manageable Inbox is an empty one, which you have to diligently keep empty by handling everything immediately, a la Inbox Zero.
This is crazy.
So we’ve spent the past few years building Moo.do to try to improve the email experience and we’ve come up with two major ideas to make this situation better.
1. Email should be a good todo list
You already use email as a todo list, so your email app should be designed for it. We started with the primary feature of a good todo list: prioritizing emails to easily visualize what’s next. Sorting by priority lets us bring important emails to the top in order of importance.
To prevent the cognitive drain of constantly switching between the Inbox and Priority View, we took inspiration from the Kanban Method, which suggests using boards to visualize the progress being made as you move tasks between boards.
Building on that principle, Moo.do shows multiple views side by side, making it easy to track a Priority View while running through your Inbox, or work with multiple labels at the same time.
But simply prioritizing emails isn’t enough. It doesn’t matter how good email is as a todo list if it’s isolated from your other tasks and calendars. You should not have to be responsible for managing priorities between all your different apps.
2. Email should be integrated with everything
Your brain doesn’t care what service a task came from and neither should your software. In Moo.do, email is just one part of a larger organization system. You can organize emails in your projects right next to your other tasks and notes, because a task assigned to you by an email is no different than a task you wrote yourself.
Tasks on your todo list are the same as emailed requests from your co-worker, so you should be able to prioritize them together. Your professor’s email about this week’s assignment belongs right next to your assignment notes. And it just makes sense for you flight and hotel confirmation emails to be together with your travel itinerary.
The main benefit of integrating email with everything else is that email is now as powerful as your normal organization system. If you like to organize tasks by project, use tags for context in GTD, break down tasks on Kanban boards, schedule tasks on a calendar, or outline your thoughts on a bulleted list, you can do that with email too.
Clean and minimal
In addition to the organization features, we think it’s important that an email client be distraction-free and visually pleasing. We designed Moo.do to let you focus on the tasks at hand without fighting a complicated user interface.
Get it together now
Thanks to all of the great feedback from our beta testers, Moo.do for Gmail is now available on desktop, iOS, and Android. We truly appreciate everyone’s feedback and ideas on this. Reach out to us on Twitter @MooDoApp or send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to chat.
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