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  • Tracking email conversations

    Tracking email conversations with Omnifocus

    I have tried to use Omnifocus to keep track of crucial emails, but I find it not ideal. Perhaps it is because I feel it is too easy for them to get lost inside the system. Or perhaps is because transferring an email from mailplane to Omnifocus is too cumbersome for me.

    As a result I end up leaving unfinished email in my inbox. This like wise doesn't suit me.

    Has anyone mastered the art of tracking emails (with Omnifocus)?

  • #2
    Originally posted by timjamesbrennan View Post
    Tracking email conversations with Omnifocus

    I have tried to use Omnifocus to keep track of crucial emails, but I find it not ideal. Perhaps it is because I feel it is too easy for them to get lost inside the system. Or perhaps is because transferring an email from mailplane to Omnifocus is too cumbersome for me.

    As a result I end up leaving unfinished email in my inbox. This like wise doesn't suit me.

    Has anyone mastered the art of tracking emails (with Omnifocus)?
    What does "tracking email" mean to you? Omnifocus is only good for projects and next actions not anything else. Also, I don't know about mailplane clipping, but clipping from mail.app is pretty easy.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by mcogilvie View Post
      What does "tracking email" mean to you? Omnifocus is only good for projects and next actions not anything else. Also, I don't know about mailplane clipping, but clipping from mail.app is pretty easy.
      So for example, I have a tennis match to arrange consisting of two clubs with 6 players each. I need to be able to ask all of them if they are still ok to play 7 days beforehand. If I don't get a reply within 48 hours I need to email them again. If still no answer after say 4 hours, I need to ring them.

      I can set this up in Omnifocus, but everytime the conversation moves forward i need to set a new due date. when there are 20 conversations on the go, i think it might not be efficient to use Omnifocus.

      I just discovered followupthen.com which could be just what I am looking for. You add in the bcc field 3days@followupthen.com and the email comes back to your inbox 3 days later to prompt a follow up.

      There is also boomerang which is a paid version with more features. Have not tried that one. It is 5 or 15 dollars per month.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by timjamesbrennan View Post
        So for example, I have a tennis match to arrange consisting of two clubs with 6 players each. I need to be able to ask all of them if they are still ok to play 7 days beforehand. If I don't get a reply within 48 hours I need to email them again. If still no answer after say 4 hours, I need to ring them.

        I can set this up in Omnifocus, but everytime the conversation moves forward i need to set a new due date. when there are 20 conversations on the go, i think it might not be efficient to use Omnifocus.

        I just discovered followupthen.com which could be just what I am looking for. You add in the bcc field 3days@followupthen.com and the email comes back to your inbox 3 days later to prompt a follow up.

        There is also boomerang which is a paid version with more features. Have not tried that one. It is 5 or 15 dollars per month.
        In your example, you are using your next action list to track project support information. The project is "arrange tennis match" or equivalent. The project support information is the list of participants and their status. You can put this in the note field of the project in Omnifocus or elsewhere. Seven days beforehand, your next action is to email participants requesting confirmation. Two days later, your next actions is to tally confirmations and send another email to those who do not confirm. And so on. With email threading, it's pretty easy to do this. You do not need to track individual emails, just mark people as confirmed when they confirm. Of course, if someone has to cancel, then you have more actions, such as "call Tom re sub for Bill" or whatever is appropriate.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by mcogilvie View Post
          In your example, you are using your next action list to track project support information. The project is "arrange tennis match" or equivalent. The project support information is the list of participants and their status. You can put this in the note field of the project in Omnifocus or elsewhere. Seven days beforehand, your next action is to email participants requesting confirmation. Two days later, your next actions is to tally confirmations and send another email to those who do not confirm. And so on. With email threading, it's pretty easy to do this. You do not need to track individual emails, just mark people as confirmed when they confirm. Of course, if someone has to cancel, then you have more actions, such as "call Tom re sub for Bill" or whatever is appropriate.
          Thanks - that is a brilliant observation.

          I have now moved over to a google doc spreadsheet (easy to access wherever i am and harder to lose), and I am also using followupthen at the same time to see if it something I can use.

          I am thinking now that I could keep one big spread sheet for keeping track of emails that i am waiting to hear back about.

          Is there a best practice for this as prescribed by David Allen?

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          • #6
            Originally posted by timjamesbrennan View Post
            Is there a best practice for this as prescribed by David Allen?
            I think it's the waiting for list, ticklers and project support. I usually have about 5-10 items in waiting for, which I review weekly. Because the software I use supports it, I can put a due date on that item to trigger further action, but other people might use a different method to tickle them. I would put "WF confirmations 4/25 tournament" on my waiting for list with a due date of 4/4 or whatever date seems appropriate. If I was tracking up to 16 people or so, their names would be in a note for that waiting for. For more people, a spreadsheet is probably better, especially if I were using it to track other data like standings. I would not mix in other waiting for's with a spreadsheet for tennis project support. The point is to have an easily reviewable list of things you are waiting for, and I would not find that easy to use. I don't want to look through a bunch of tennis players to find out somebody owes me a key document ASAP.

            Comment


            • #7
              Since the last post, I have made some interesting discoveries.

              Whilst omnifocus is a great tool, I am starting to wonder if it is best used just for someday maybe items.

              I like to keep my inboxes to a minimum and perhaps I can use my gmail and google calendar to subsitute it.

              For example:

              For my tennis team organisation, I set up a google doc spreadsheet to track progress at specific milestones. Specifically, because sometimes people forget matches or get confused, I need to remember to communicate with them 3 weeks before to book them, 1 week before to make sure they are not injured and haven't double booked and a few hours before just as a reminder.

              To reduce my workload, I created one event with multiple notifications which coincided with these milestones.

              When I send the email I also bcc followup, so if they don't get back to me, it will reappear in my inbox.

              I think that popup reminders on my calendar are good for times when you need to see something asap. Email reminders are good when you can wait a few hours before you see it. And when something really needs action now, I like to set an alarm on my phone and a second alarm on a separate alarm clock just to be safe.

              This raises the question - do i really need omnifocus?

              If i create an email draft in gmail titled "hardware store" with a list of items, with a couple of taps I can edit this list.

              Only one way to find out...

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