It is with great sadness that we announce the discontinuation of Flow-e for Gmail. As of 1st January 2020, Flow-e for Gmail will stop working. Learn More.
Today we have invited our long-term Inbox Hero Laura Tejerina. She is a communication, fitness and wellness professional based in Madrid, Spain and the founder of DespiertayEntrena.com and Cineturismo.es.
She loves reading and researching about technology, productivity and time management. She writes about many different topics on her personal website, LauraTejerina.com.
Let’s see her approach to inbox zero!
From the minute I started using Flow-e, I knew I would never go back to “standard Gmail.”
I had tried many times to incorporate the Kanban system into my life, and my inbox proved to be the best place to do so.
I have been a freelancer for years: I work in different areas related to communications, fitness, and wellness. I work for various clients and companies, and I also have a couple of brands and sites on my own. So…life can get hectic sometimes.
In this post I will try to share my personal experience and some tips that –hopefully– will be useful for you, as well.
Long ago I decided to merge all my professional email accounts into a single Gmail inbox. I tag and organize all the messages properly so that I can find any information I need, in no time, whenever I need it.
One of my priorities when managing my inbox is to empty it completely. This means that any message that no longer needs my attention gets archived or deleted immediately.
The emails containing things I was working on or that I needed to do were kept in the inbox, already read and tagged, but still there.
But there was a big mistake I kept making: whenever I replied to an email, I automatically archived the conversation, and “forgot about it” until I got the needed response.
So… What happened if I didn’t get a reply? Yes, you guessed it: I would forget. I would forget about “the thing” completely, even for weeks! Until I realized, of course, that there was a task pending, so I would send a follow-up email to whoever involved.
When I discovered Flow-e, I found the perfect solution for my clean-inbox-mania. Let me show you what my Flow-e inbox looks like:
I keep five columns in total:
- The default inbox (where all the problems arrive :p )
- To do
- In progress/waiting
- Traducciones [translations]: this is just some kind of column for notes, with texts I need for the work I do with one of my clients. No tasks here!
Whenever I open my Flow-e page, I check all the emails in the inbox, one by one. And here is what I do:
- If an email or task can be solved/done immediately, I’ll take care of it right then. I will send my reply, and I will automatically mark it as done and archive it.
- If the task contained in the message is longer or needs further action from my side (i.e., preparing a document, making a call, etc.), I’ll send it to the “To do” column.
- If I reply to the message and I still need to get a response from the other person, I’ll move the conversation to the “In progress/Waiting” column.
That’s it! The inbox is clean, yay!
So now I have a column full of tasks that need my attention. I will then schedule specific times and resources to complete all the actions in the “To do” column.
(By the way, I manage my tasks and all my lists using the analog Bullet Journal system).
When these tasks are completed, I mark them as done. Whenever I need to interrupt the work I’ve been doing, I will send them to the “In progress/waiting” column, just to be sure that I don’t forget anything.
As you can see, my third column also contains cards that need my attention, either because I still need to work on them, or because I am waiting for somebody else to reply to the message.
To save time and energy, I keep my “Done” column collapsed because I don’t need those messages anymore. Also, I have setup my Flow-e preferences so that any conversations marked as done get automatically archived in Gmail.
I know that, when it comes to productivity, there will never be a perfect formula for everyone. However, I hope you found this post useful for your daily life, and maybe you’ll get to apply some of these tips yourself!