Task Management with Mail.app
I have to juggle dozens of short-term to-do items at any given time, so I need a process that is fast and practical, so that things don’t fall through the cracks. I stopped relying on my memory a long time ago.
Fast and practical in this case means simple. I like simple.
So my process relies on a single application : Apple’s Mail.app.
It goes like this :
- I receive an email, say like this one, that contains an action item
- I highlight the relevant action item in the message body
- I right click and select New Todo (Leopard users, click on the ToDo button in the toolbar)
- I tweak the Todo header text (I prefix my todo’s with little codes, as in T: for Translation) and add an alarm if necessary (red circly-arrowy thingy)
Thats it. It takes a couple of seconds to create a todo.
Now, to make this even more practical required two extra (one-time) steps:
- I created smart mailbox in Mail that displays all of my incomplete Todos.
- I created a separate mail-viewer window (File > New Viewer Window). I selected my smart mailbox, then hid the sidebar (View > Hide Mailboxes) and hid the toolbar (View > Hide Toolbar). The result is a second Mail window that is always open and only shows my ToDos.
From this window:
- I can click on the yellow check boxes to mark an item as done.
- I can click on the little grey arrow to open the original email message, reply to the message and attach my deliverables to the reply.