We all do it. We all try–and fail–to use email as a task manager.
We all read emails and then try turning them into tasks by marking them “unread” just so we’ll remember to deal with them later. We also “star,” “flag,” “color-code” and even send emails to ourselves as reminders to do something later.
It’s crazy. Understandable, but crazy.

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A Most Unproductive Productivity Tool:

We all do it. We all try–and fail–to use email as a task manager.

We all read emails and then try turning them into tasks by marking them “unread” just so we’ll remember to deal with them later. We also “star,” “flag,” “color-code” and even send emails to ourselves as reminders to do something later.

It’s crazy. Understandable, but crazy.

Understandable because ever since Ivy Lee walked into Charles M. Schwab’s office 100 years ago, we’ve known the value of task management and the to-do list. Schwab was so impressed with the results of Lee’s method that after a month he reportedly sent Lee a check for $25,000—equivalent to nearly $600,000 in today’s dollars.

What was Lee’s miracle method? At the end of every day, make a list of the six most important things you have to do the next day and number them in order of importance.  Scratch off each item after it’s finished, and move to the next one on your list. If something doesn’t get done, put it on the following day’s list.

Rinse and repeat.

Schwab is quoted as having called Lee’s advice the most profitable he’d ever received. A hundred years later, David Allen’s “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity” practically started a revolution in time-management. We understand the value of task management. It’s even understandable that we’d try to apply some of these techniques to email, the app where we spend the most time.

It’s crazy because email and task management are two very different things. One is a tool for communication, the other for productivity. The problem is that when you combine or confuse email with task management, you make it nearly impossible to do either very well.

First off, the inbox doesn’t allow you to create tasks for yourself. It’s the place others send the tasks they’ve created for you.

Second, once they reach your inbox, there’s no good way to manage or track the tasks assigned. Also, updates and responses about tasks just get lost in the constant wave of emails that take up so much of your inbox and your time.

The same goes for emails you send assigning tasks to others. How can you possibly effectively or efficiently track start dates, deadlines or progress?

SPOILER ALERT: You can’t.

Your desire is to be more efficient and effective, but by conflating email and task management, all you’re actually creating is confusion and complexity.

Neither effective nor efficient, this poorly conceived system quickly descends into the “To-Do-Lists-From-Hell” once you start wading through email-after-email in search of who-assigned-what-to-who, what’s due now or what you need to start working on next.

To add insult to injury, the end result of your honest attempt to be more productive really just results in adding even more emails to an already bloated inbox.

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But Wait, There’s More (and more and more)

To date, the answer seems to have been to adopt one or more of the myriad of productivity apps designed to help you better manage your time, tasks and/or projects. Sounds good until you realize how many of our tasks begin as email messages, or require sending and receiving emails in order to complete the task.

As a result, you haven’t eliminated email at all.

Rather, now you’re using email to manage some tasks, plus different apps to manage others. And different departments and members of your team may be using different apps altogether until it feels like you’re all using everything but the kitchen sink.

Actually, make that sync, because much of the time the one thing these helpful apps don’t do is sync up with each other.

This is particularly problematic when people add tasks from their email into their task manager. Odds are good that most project or task updates will come via email because email is still our major form of communication. That means the task manager either won’t be updated, or you’ll find yourself constantly bouncing back and forth between apps.

“The future ain’t what it used to be.”

—Yogi Berra

What we were promised was a task-management-nirvana, but what we actually got appears to just be a different version of more-of-the-same. Like Yogi Berra also said, “It’s like déjà vu all over again.”

In an attempt to avoid hunting for information in a bloated inbox, we simply find ourselves once again hunting for information in a bloated inbox. We’re essentially right back where we started.

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A Light At The End Of Your Inbox

The good news is, you’re instincts were right to begin with. It would absolutely be ideal if all your email, task management and other team collaboration tools lived together in one seamlessly connected app. And it would absolutely be ideal if that app was the one we use the very most.

Now it is, because Contatta is where email and collaboration make contact. No more searching for what-was-assigned-to-who because with Contatta you can assign a task from right inside an email. Assign it to yourself or someone else and simply set due dates and reminders. All from inside an email. All without leaving your inbox.

No more scanning your inbox like Columbus searching for the New World, because now all your tasks are right where they belong, right where anyone can easily find them.

Do you want a manageable task manager that lives right inside your inbox and is seamlessly connected to all your other collaboration tools? Do you want to be able to easily share files, emails and contacts, all from inside the inbox? More importantly do you want to reduce your inbox by 60 percent or more?

With Contatta you can. It’s a single workspace, for your entire workday, for every member of your team. If you want less email, fewer meetings and more time collaborating on the important things that actually move your business forward, try Contatta for free today.