November 9, 2016
4 Reasons why email can never replace a task manager
*PLEASE NOTE – DropTask is now Ayoa – an all-in-one tool for idea generation and collaboration, that goes beyond traditional task management. Discover Ayoa and achieve your best work.*
We’re all guilty of using our inbox as our to-do list. Do you ever email tasks to yourself, ‘unread’ messages or flag items as a reminder to tackle them later, leaving them hanging in your inbox? Bad idea. With a constant inflow of new emails and pressing requests, there inevitably comes a point when our inbox starts to overgrow and we feel bogged down.
Let’s face it, email is simply not a productive or efficient way to manage and keep track of tasks. Inbox management can easily take over your entire workday if you let it. A 2012 study by the McKinsey Global Institute found that the average worker spends approximately 28% of the workweek processing their emails (answering, reading, deleting and sorting); time that could be better occupied with high-value tasks. Using a separate task manager (hint: Ayoa) to capture your to-dos in one place, including those arriving in your ever-expanding inbox, can help you avoid wasting time sifting through stacks of emails and frees you up to get more done. Plus, you won’t get distracted by each and every message that pops into your inbox while you’re in the middle of a serious assignment.
Drag yourself away from your emails for a moment and take note of these four reasons why email isn’t a good replacement for a task manager.
1. No central ‘hub’ for project
All teams need a centralized location for important project information – files, comments, updates – that can be accessed from anywhere at any time. When this isn’t available, workers take to their emails to make requests, assign tasks to colleagues, send attachments or track down the information they need. The next thing you know, numerous messages are flying around and information is scattered between various conversations, folders, labels, attachments or lists. But email wasn’t built for task management, only correspondence. While you can go to all the effort of creating your own system of color-coding and adding stars and flags to draw attention to tasks in your email program, you’ll still have a hard time keeping sight of the big picture and staying in sync with your team when relying on email alone. This is especially true when working together on long-term projects.
Cue DropTask, your one-stop-shop for project management, allowing you to collate and categorize your to-dos and responsibilities in one friendly workspace. Private projects can remain just that – private – while team or cross-departmental projects can be shared for effective collaboration with colleagues. Keeping tasks, files, status updates and comments all together simplifies the way you manage your workload and ensures that everyone stays in the loop – no email required!
2. Emails don’t have start or due dates
An email inbox doesn’t allow you to plan ahead by setting start dates for your tasks or deadlines for completing them. By contrast, the cool tool that is DropTask helps you effortlessly manage your time by allowing you to add Start and Due dates to each of your tasks. These are instantly scheduled within your Calendar, which brings together all of your tasks from across every project you are working on. The Calendar lets you toggle between Start and Due dates so you can choose whether to view your must-do-now priorities or focus on what’s coming up to reach maximum productivity. Scared of falling behind? Set Task Reminders to alert you as deadlines approach and spur you into action.
3. To-dos get buried
In a bid to stay organized, you might try to keep email communications about specific tasks all on one thread. Seems like a decent enough plan, but an email thread for a single project soon grows to an unmanageable length, with task-critical data, questions, team progress updates, FYIs and off-topic chats gathering on top of each other in no simple order. These long, bulky ‘re:re:re’ email threads bury important information and cause untold frustration when it comes to digging out what’s relevant.
The key around this is to separate your tasks from your email as soon as they come in, so they don’t fall off the radar. Whenever a to-do arrives via email, transfer it straight into your task manager. It might seem like more work; after all, you’re adding another step to the process. But the act of freeing tasks from your email forces you to get clear on what has to be done, rather than scrolling through a long list of ‘re: re: re:’ emails to remind yourself.
Turning emails into tasks is a breeze with DropTask – just send the message to email@example.com or the special address found in your user preferences. Or, you can move emails from Outlook to DropTask with a single click of a button using our Outlook integration feature. There’s the option to set attributes for your tasks (such as Due Dates and Importance) from within Outlook before mailing to DropTask, and to include email attachments. More than that, you can also delegate responsibilities by emailing them straight into someone else’s DropTask workspace!
If you’re a Gmail user, download DropTask from the Google Apps Marketplace and send actionable items from your Gmail inbox directly into DropTask. As with Outlook, you can set time management and prioritization preferences to your Gmail emails, before firing them over to DropTask to tackle at a later date.
FEATURE FACT: The subject of your email will become the to-do name, and the body of the email will be the task description. Any attachments will be added as a file. When you next log in, you’ll see the task waiting for you in your Notifications.
4. Email distracts
Keeping your to-dos lounging in your inbox encourages constant email checking, and we all know how much of a distraction that can be! With every new ping, you’ll lose focus. A joint study by Microsoft Research and the University of Illinois found that it took workers up to 15 minutes to resume an absorbing task when interrupted by a simple email alert, whether they responded to it or not. Once you’re in your inbox, you run the risk of getting caught up processing new messages and as a result important to-dos get left behind.
Separating out your tasks into your task manager means that you won’t lose sight of them in a mass of open emails. And you have the added benefit of being able to better define, prioritize, classify and filter your tasks. Unlike email, you can also group tasks and show their relationships and dependencies in visible ways, as well as mark out which activities are complete, in progress or incomplete. In DropTask, you have a clear visualization structure of your work at all times, with options to view tasks in the original colorful Canvas, as a Workflow Board (Kanban-style) or in Calendar form.
While your inbox can offer support for your daily workload, it’s not the place for task management. Detach your email from your tasks by capturing all your actions in a dedicated tool like DropTask. What other good reasons are there not to use email to manage your to-dos? Or are you happy using your inbox as a to-do list? Let us know in the comments.