Why would less email mean better productivity? Because, as Ms. Deal found in her research, endless email is an enabler. It often masks terrible management practices.
When employees shoot out a fusillade of miniature questions via email, or “cc” every team member about each niggling little decision, it’s because they don’t feel confident to make a decision on their own.
Since Sparrow fell off the radar, I've adopted Postbox as my email client of choice. Though I've given Apple's native Mail.app a try for short periods of time in the past, I simply don't prefer it.
That said, this post from App Storm may have convinced me to give it another try. It's packed full of useful tips, suggested tweaks, and other information to help you get the most out of Mail.app and your email workflow.
If you're already a Mail.app user, then you should definitely give it a look.
If you use a different Mac or web email application, then perhaps this post will convince you to give it a(nother) try.
As a church, we use The City, a private communication and social networking tool, for 90% of our communication. Outside of staff, I rarely send an email to someone in our church. Instead, emails are replaced by private messages on The City. Creating a new email is a quick process that takes me only a couple of seconds. I usually have Postbox, my email client of choice, running in the background. It’s simply a matter of switching to it using the Application Switcher (press ⌘Tab, holding down ⌘ and tapping the Tab button to cycle through your open applications), then pressing the keyboard shortcut C or ⌘N to compose a new email.
Unfortunately, it isn’t quite that easy to send a message via The City. Navigate to The City and login, if necessary. Click on “Messages.” Then click on “Write a Message” and I’m finally ready to compose my message. This isn’t the end of the world, but the process certainly isn’t as quick and snappy as sending an email.
Fortunately, using bookmarklets and keyboard shortcuts, it’s possible to make the process of creating a new message on The City almost as fast, saving precious time over the long haul.
Does your church use The City? If so, here’s how you set it up:
First, make sure your Bookmarks Bar is showing and not hidden. In Safari, you’ll find this under View > Show Bookmarks Bar. In Chrome, it’s View > Always Show Bookmarks Bar. If you prefer a keyboard shortcut, you can toggle your Bookmarks Bar in both browsers using ⇧⌘B.
Now, open up a tab in your browser to the “New Message” page on The City and click and drag the favicon for the page down to the Bookmarks Bar.
Safari immediately allows you to edit the name of the bookmark. You can edit the bookmark’s name in Chrome by right clicking and selecting Edit. Choose any name you wish. I typically use the shortest recognizable name possible in order to save room in my Bookmarks Bar.
Here’s where the real magic comes in. Safari assigns keyboard shortcuts to the first nine bookmarks in your Bookmarks Bar, in order from left to right. For example, you see in the photo above that my newly created City bookmark is third from the left. Therefore, to go to this bookmark, I press ⌘3. My Pinboard bookmarklet would be ⌘2 and Instapaper, ⌘1.
Now, to create a new message on The City you simply pull up Safari, use the keyboard shortcut ⌘3, and you’re ready to start typing.
Chrome doesn’t assign keyboard shortcuts to bookmarks natively, but instead uses ⌘1, ⌘2, and so on as shortcuts for open browser tabs. It is possible to assign shortcuts to the Bookmarks Bar, but it’s a bit of a process that probably deserves its own post. Stay tuned. ↩
Of course, you’ll need to log in if you aren’t logged in already. Make sure to check the “Keep me logged in” box to avoid logging in every time. ↩
We call this new feature the "OmniFocus Mail Drop". Unlike previous mail-processing features, we wanted a method that wouldn't require any of your devices to be present in order to add items to OmniFocus, we wanted to add the much-requested better attachment support, and we wanted to reduce the amount of extra work you had to do in order to get your items into OmniFocus as much as possible.
To this end, we implemented the feature as part of the Omni Sync Server. Accounts on the server can now have a special email address generated. Any message forwarded or sent to that address will be processed (including attachments) and added to your OmniFocus database right there on the server.
This is going to make it a lot easier to process emails and get them into OmniFocus when I'm away from my computer. My iPhone just became a much more valuable tool for managing my email workflow.
Find out more about the OmniFocus Mail Drop, including how to sign up here.
My favorite email client for Mac and iOS has been acquired by Google. From Dom Leca, CEO of Sparrow:
We’re excited to announce that Sparrow has been acquired by Google!
We care a lot about how people communicate, and we did our best to provide you with the most intuitive and pleasurable mailing experience.
Now we’re joining the Gmail team to accomplish a bigger vision — one that we think we can better achieve with Google.
First, It’s appropriate to say congratulations to the Sparrow team. They’ve created an outstanding product—one I use regularly on my Mac and iPhone. This pay-off is well deserved.
I am concerned, however, about the email I received from Sparrow regarding their acquisition. In it Leca explains:
We will continue to make available our existing products, and we will provide support and critical updates to our users. However, as we’ll be busy with new projects at Google, we do not plan to release new features for the Sparrow apps.
Bummer. It looks like Sparrow will remain as-is indefinitely. As a user, I can’t say that I’m too excited to hear that.
That said, I look forward to seeing the fruit that comes from the Sparrow team’s new home with Google.
Desktop notifications for emails and chat messages were announced on the Official Gmail Blog yesterday. Though not life-changing, this is a feature that I am glad to see.
Gmail is typically open as a tab in my browser at all times, even while I work on non-email related items and tasks. This means that I regularly miss others' attempts to chat with me. By the time I realize they have sent me a message and attempt to respond, they may not even be online. If this bothers me, then I'm sure it's even more frustrating for the person initiating the conversation. Problem solved. The best part is that I don't need to run an application in the background (such as iChat or Adium) in order to receive chat notifications any longer!
I'm less excited about the email notifications. I prefer to control my inbox and not the other way around. Email notifications kill my productivity, so I only check email at designated times. There is an option to be notified only when "Important Messages" arrive, however. As a Priority Inbox lover, I may consider giving this a try.
Desktop notifications are available only to Google Chrome users at this time. Details here.