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-   -   OmniFocus and Email - Workflow question? (http://forums.omnigroup.com/showthread.php?t=16734)

bgsufn 2010-07-12 06:48 PM

OmniFocus and Email - Workflow question?
 
Hello all... I purchased OmniFocus while it was in beta, used it for a bit, moved on to other task managers and now am back, refreshed and renewed! I have searched the forums and cannot find a good answer to my query, so I am posting a new topic.

I use Mailplane with two Gmail accounts - one work and one home. Within each, I have my regular archive, plus labels @Action, @Waiting and @Read-Review. I use the Labs feature "Multiple Inboxes" to show those three labels below my inbox. When I receive a message, I add the proper label to it and archive. I can then look quickly at Gmail and see what messages are in each. I can also go into a label and "do" or file.

I am just (re)starting out in OmniFocus. I am doing a reboot of GTD with the book and doing the Inbox dump. I am creating contexts and projects and all that.

My query is how to "reconcile" the two systems. If I have a mail message that is Actionable, do I reference that in OmniFocus? If so, do I archive or delete it in Gmail? If I don't reference it in OF, isn't that going against the concept of "one trusted system" that DA talks about?

I guess I am just looking for some guidance, advice and/or best practices for managing email/Gmail and OF. How does it look for you?

Thanks in advance from this noob ;-)

Chris

Craig 2010-07-13 05:38 PM

For me, it only makes sense to put everything in OmniFocus. So when I have an actionable item, I add the item to OF using the OmniFocus>Send to inbox service with a keyboard shortcut. Then I file the message (using a Mail Act-On shortcut) to one of two places: a Short-term archive folder for things I may need to reference soon but are safe to delete after 6 mos. or so; or a Long-term archive that I keep forever. This is part of a twice daily email-inbox-to-zero routine.

The OF item created this way puts an "original message" link into the notes field, and, handily, that link works even with these messages that are filed away.

Edit: my process assumes Mail.app, which I know you aren't using, but hopefully some of it is helpful nonetheless.

hypotyposis 2010-07-14 06:44 AM

Workflow with Apple Mail
 
1 Attachment(s)
Hey,

I'm also using Apple Mail, so same remarks as Craig above...

I set up my email back when I was using Entourage with the whitepaper from DACo. So, similarly to what you're describing, I've got multiple folders GTD-style in Mail.
My @Action folder holds emails I'm planning to reply on for which I'll need >2mins. I generally don't enter "reply on: email" stuff in OF: I use OF for emails I'm planning to write from scratch or for reminders of emails I'm waiting to hear back on.
If I need to use stuff from an email for another actionable (may be writing another email or some other form of action, although I'm moving most of the latter either directly into OF or Evernote/SimpleNote/Dropbox [Thanks Curt Clifton & whpalmer!], I move the email with the support material to @Action Support.
My Waiting For mailbox is seldom used these days.
I empty my email inbox by using Mail Act-On and the trash extensively to a full hierarchy of folders that mirrors both my OF hierarchy, my files hierarchy on the Mac (created mostly using Ready-Set-Do!), and ultimately my physical filing system. It only sucks when I'm not at my laptop and need stuff from an email that's in one of those folders (they're not synced to the cloud, but I'm assuming you wouldn't have this problem using GMail), but I'm working around this by putting the stuff I need for reference/project support in Evernote/SimpleNote.

Cheers,

hobartimus 2010-07-18 05:47 PM

@bgsufn I was also using MailPlane (which I happen to love) with a set of actionable folders in a very similar way to how you are doing it. After getting acquainted with OF, I am now using OF for every actionable item. Email is now only used for communication.

Side note — I never got the MailPlane OmniFocus plugin to work so I ultimately went back to Apple Mail. I miss MailPlane very much :-(

kalbertine 2010-12-07 12:32 PM

Gmail + OF
 
I found it useful to create a Tag, named a Project - copy the link one time to bit.ly and copy the link into OF notes. This way you have a constant reference to Tagged emails specific to the Project. Unfortunately Mailplane does not show a browser address bar, so one would have to do it directly with Gmail via browser...

Kelly

AE Thanh 2010-12-08 01:03 AM

Interesting thread. I have a different approach to this workflow with email.
I use Mailplane too and I highly recommend you use their Omnifocus plugin here: [url]http://mailplaneapp.com/download/omnifocus_plugin/[/url]

It will allow you to create tasks that link directly back to the specific email. This is important for the workflow. My approach is that all tasks are stored in Omnifocus, not within the email program. Email program should be used for sending emails and just that.

Sometimes in emails you get tasks you need to do outside of the email program (actually, happens a lot especially if you work in office settings) so to me it doesn't make sense if you keep tasks stored at 2 different places. I'd rather have all these stored in OF (I also use Mobileme so I can always access the data with other devices I have to get work done. No need to check email for additional tasks, etc, but that's not the main point here.)

Here is how it works for me.

1. I have 3 labels in Gmail: [B]follow up[/B] (used to follow up), [B]hold[/B] (waiting for response), [B]all mail[/B] (default in Gmail where emails are archived). The [B]follow up[/B] folder I use for emails I need to respond to but require some extra thought/work (see step 3 below).

2. My goal is to always have my inbox at zero. Gives me a reassurance I've processed all emails and have my tasks ahead of me.

3. When I start checking email, I use a 2 minute limit.
3a. If the response to the email requires less than 2 minutes, I respond right away.
----
3b. If it takes longer than 2 minutes to respond, I select the text in the email (appropiately), right click, send to omnifocus, and put the task in there with appropriate project / context / due date. Also I label with "follow up" and then archive (you can still access the email because now you find it under the "follow up" label). If you need more time on a certain email, I usually set the context to "email".
3c. Repeat till inbox is zero.

4. Then I look at my Omnifocus and prioritize what needs to get done that day (usually by flagging 3 tasks that NEED to get done), including the tasks the emails might have given you. Now you have all the tasks in your OF and you can decide what to do accordingly.

Whenever I've tagged email into OF and I need to read that email again, I can just click the link in OF and it will automatically open Mailplane and view the email. Easy and convenient.

I also think Apple Mail can work like the Mailplane plugin, but I'm not sure how you configure it.

epr22 2010-12-28 09:34 PM

[QUOTE=Craig;80114]For me, it only makes sense to put everything in OmniFocus. So when I have an actionable item, I add the item to OF using the OmniFocus>Send to inbox service with a keyboard shortcut. Then I file the message (using a Mail Act-On shortcut) to one of two places: a Short-term archive folder for things I may need to reference soon but are safe to delete after 6 mos. or so; or a Long-term archive that I keep forever. This is part of a twice daily email-inbox-to-zero routine.

The OF item created this way puts an "original message" link into the notes field, and, handily, that link works even with these messages that are filed away.

Edit: my process assumes Mail.app, which I know you aren't using, but hopefully some of it is helpful nonetheless.[/QUOTE]
Craig,

My approach is similar to yours, but I’d like to send Mail Messages to the OF inbox via a Mail Act-On rule. I’m not sure how to do that. I tried to use your script, Add OmniFocus Action.scpt, from 2007, but it won’t work anymore. If I could simply reference the Send to Inbox service somehow (applescript?), I think I’d be all set, but so far being able to do so has eluded me. I want to be able to create an action from an email that is qualified by a Mail Act-On test, as would happen if I selected Mail -> Services -> OmniFocus: Send to Inbox.

Thanks!

kingsinger 2011-01-29 05:25 PM

FWIW, I learned in another thread that the OF clipping service now works in the beta version of Chrome. As I had been playing withe the developer build, I checked to see if it was working in there. Sure enough it is.

So if you are a gmail user and don't use mail plane or mail.app, you can now clip e-mail into OF through this message. Just select the text from the message clip it, and this text will get put into the notes field of a new task in OF along with a url to the message.


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