What is the feed for?
The feed represents the entry point of all of your email communication. It is a list format to which incoming emails get added. To navigate the feed of chronologically organized email communication, you’re used to scrolling through to go back in time. The email feed updates in real time and provides a dynamic interface for new messages.
Since the beginning of email, the feed in our inbox, in its various forms, has been the main interface of all of our communication. But is what we’re used to exactly what we need? Now that we are getting many more emails a day than we used to, our needs when it comes to email have changed. We need to be faster, more selective and more process-based when it comes to how we work with the inbox. Otherwise, it could start to take over our lives.
Modern applications are already successfully experimenting with how to help people navigate the loads of information they receive each day (as email or other media) and actually make it stick.
The main shift is towards visual communication. Sources suggest that visual information is processed 60, 000 times fast than text and is more memorable. So, why shouldn’t the email process be more visual from start to finish rather than a simple list?
What is the workflow for?
The next generation of email process is the visual workflow. Unlike the simple list format, a visual workflow allows you to map out your actionable email based on its states. The visual differentiation between emails that contain work in progress eliminates the challenges of navigating email communication only based on whether something is read or unread.
The visual workflow is the natural evolution of labelled lists in your never ending feed of emails.
In general, the workflow wins out over the feed because it is directional. When a new email comes into the workflow, it shouldn’t go back. The line between workflow and feed, when crossed, represents the moment an email becomes actionable. The email is now on deck!
*If you’re a FLOW-e user, you’ve probably noticed that if you drag and drop an email from the feed to the workflow, it can’t go back. This forward-only motion keep the process flow moving towards completion by helping you commit to started work.
By processing your emails using a workflow, you commit to starting what you finish. When an email enters the workflow, it should go through all of the stages of the process you have defined before it gets to Done. If you read an email in the feed, see that it contains a task and leave it there, the chances of this email being forgotten are high. If the email is physically moved to a separate, dedicated column related to its state, it will be in front of your eyes daily. (In the words of Nat King Cole, unforgettable!)
Try processing your emails visually as they come in using the FLOW-e customizeable workflow by:
- creating process queues from the emails that you plan to read and process
- prioritizing by differentiating between incoming emails and the ones you are working on now
- moving processed emails out of the way to the done column
The FLOW-e workflow can also support todos – this will help get through the actionable emails and track not just the conversation, but also the tasks associated with it.