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TSW & Email. Is it more work? Further Explanations? What to do with it?

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How do you use Evernote in conjunction with e-mail and workflow?


I’m trying to figure out how to integrate email with TSW. 

If I need to reply to an email later but don’t have time right now – then should I move it over to Evernote and put it in an actionable item list and then archive the email? But then when I reply I need to go back to the email program and find the email in the archive and reply to it? This seems like more work (and touches) than just leaving it in the inbox and dealing with it later. Can someone explain the logic?

Do you store all emails in Evernote or just actionable ones or ones that are part of a project or tagable subject?

How do you decide what email to keep in Evernote and what to just archive without importing?

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  • Level 5*

There's no 'right' way to deal with anything - the problem with predigested GTD systems is that they are generic - meant to fit all cases,  not your specific scenario.  The remarkable Mr Allen who invented the concept said,  at some stage,  that it was OK to take what you could use from the system and ignore the rest.


Evernote forinstance is not an email client.  Why would you move all your emails there?  Fine if you want to read something later,  or need to save an electronic receipt or a work document.  But lots of normal correspondence is a quick to-and-fro.  I use a very old pre-GTD concept of Act/ Pass/ Bin/ File:  meaning Act on this - respond now.  Pass it on to someone else to handle.  Bin (obvious) or File (for reference).


If something needs a rely that only you can give,  leave it in your inbox or move it to an Active folder.  Moving things around and documenting where you moved them is,  as you say,  more work than just doing the job in the first place.


Start out with something easy and quick,  and only change things if you feel it's necessary - don't get distracted by other ideas of what makes a perfect system:  including this one!!



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  • Level 5*

If you want the email for history, you can forward the email with notebook and tags added after you have completed the exchange, however many replies (from the sent folder to preserve all header information).  In the interim you can create a folder in your email for follow up or whatever.  If you want a reminder interrupt, you can use something like FollowUpThen to send you an email however many times a day telling you to review your follow up folder.  FWIW.

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I think your questions are well-founded.

For the love of Pete, don't move all your deferred emails over to Evernote. You're just creating unnecessary work for yourself. Evernote will better serve you in many other departments.

I only ever send emails through to Evernote that might contain some sort of document or anything that I want to keep as reference... but never anything to respond to.

Think about this:

1. You forward emails to Evernote

2. You tag them and make them part of the clockwork in your GTD system - reminder or no reminder

3. At the right time, your email presents itself to you, requiring some sort of action.

4. You click on the link in the note toolbar, which takes you back to the very same email in the same email account from whence it came.

5. You respond to the email.

They have come up with some fantastic apps that work with your email client after the advent of TSW and similar methods which might help in your quest for inbox zero. There are both browser extensions for desktop and email apps that replace your default email client on mobile devices and sometimes Mac.

  • On Windows Desktop I use Boomerang
  • On iOS I use Mailbox (Dropbox product)
What these simpler than simplest of apps do is allow you to *effortlessly* defer an email to a later date of your choosing, and when the designated time is upon you, those emails will re-appear in your inbox. You may also, at any stage, take a peek into the future and see when scheduled emails are to re-appear in your inbox.

So... imagine this *instead*:

  • Eyeball your email in your inbox ... and decide on a later time to defer it to using a 3rd-party app of your choice.
  • Respond to the email when it reappears in your inbox
This is what productivity gurus call "lean"... i.e. cutting out unnecessary overhead and clutter. Technology is wonderful :-)

That is not to say that you shouldn't follow TSW for everything else ;)

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When I started with TSW and other GTD-systems I always ran into the problem after a while, that I couldn't exactly remember how to tag all those emails & notes correctly, because of the tons of tags I created before :blink: . I wanted to make sure, that everything could be found easily later on (I completely had forgotten the powerful searchfunctions provided by EN).


As an example: I got an inquiry by e-mail, which I had to answer a couple of days later. So I tagged that email with: @Work, @Email & @Computer.


At the end I called the client on the phone. So the next time I received e-mail-inquiries I additionally tagged them with @Phone... I think you get the picture, where this leads to... :D


So my advice is, to keep it ASAP - as SIMPLE as possible. I still use a couple of tags & nested tags, because they provide me with the overview, I need for my daily business, but I have reduced them drastically.


Nowadays I use a system-setup which I call "Best of all GTD-Worlds". It contains a bit of TSW, GTD and Ruud Heins setup. The choice is yours...


Good luck!

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