Emailed, managing tasks with Evernote

  • March 8th, 2011

Email has and always will be central to how I get personal & work “stuff” done. No matter how many task applications, browser extensions and web services I experiment with, my email inbox consistently stands out as the single repository where all tasks begin their [often long-winded] lifecycle. Maintaining a manageable inbox is an uphill battle and I am only now leveraging a convenient little productivity helper – the Gmail + Evernote duo.

Gmail. The holy grail of email (privacy pundits and non-Google’rs will argue against). Regardless, I love Gmail. It’s fast (usually), free (debatable when you think of the cost of “free”) and convenient thanks to archive and [awesome] search. Anything and everything gets dumped into Gmail – receipts, links, notes, photos, bug reports, assigned tasks, feature requests, shopping list items, travel itineraries… See, a whole mix of personal & non-personal.

Fortunately, I realized Evernote could help separate the essentials from the email overflow. Here’s how:

  1. Create a free Evernote account. The free account is plenty to get started with. I went Premium a few years ago for the added features when I embarked on a personal mission to go all digital.
  2. Log in online then navigate Settings > Account Summary. Towards the bottom of the screen you will find a unique Evernote email address e.g. unique.92sd@m.evernote.com (not real). Add this address to your Address Book.
  3. Download the Evernote desktop client.
  4. Next time you receive an email which contains actionable tasks, forward the message to your unique Evernote address.
  5. Within Evernote, delete the unnecessary stuff from the forwarded message leaving only tasks. Add a checkbox next to each line item.
  6. Check off tasks as you complete them.

Your new email to Evernote to actionable tasks list will look like this:

Forwarding emails off to Evernote to be sorted and filed may seem like an extra unnecessary step, but the workflow seems to work for me. At least for the time being. How do you manage tasks that find their way into your email inbox?

By the way, if you’re using Gmail on a Mac, check out Sparrow or Sparrow Lite as a replacement to Apple Mail.