Actions of the plug-in (without human method and process):
- When press of the icon TODAY, the following is happening:
- The email will be moved to “TODAY” directory (created at the installation of the plug-in)
- The email is marked as unread.
- During the night, the following is happening:
- Any email contained in Today directory is moved back to inbox
- The email is marked as unread.
- TODAY directory is now ready for next day.
From a process point of view:
Now it is important to think how this relatively simple tool is affecting the user behaviour and routine and what would be the output.
We have created a character called Archie so we could use him to look at the situation before and after.
Archie needs to find the time to treat his emails which never stop to come. Other events and activities are also competing for Archie´s time. To make it worse, some of these events or activities were not plan or known so his time schedule could change anytime. Finally, Archie is now accessing his emails from different devices, in different location with more or less time available.
Before using this plug-in:
Archi had several choices when looking at an email. He could:
- Answer it immediately,
- Just read it because it is for information only,
- Delete it,
- Leave it for later. The ISSUE is that Archi has to remember it. He might be so scared to forget it that Archie decide to answer it immediatly.
Many ways to remember an email already exist:
- Archi can change back the status of the email to unread to open it again. The problem with this option is that this email is just one within all the other unread email.
- Archie can flag it to highlight this email but he would need some time to enter all the relevant information so realistically, Archie is not doing it often.
- Another option is that Archie can send this email back to himself as important immediately or at a later time but he is not sure he will select the right time.
- Archie can also create a task, which is not very fast
- Archie can just take a note on your agenda (the good old way)
If you think about it, every time that Archie read an important emails but not urgent and would like to leave it for later, he needs to think and decide which option he will select. The number of options makes that Archie is not very consistent in his way he treats “important but not urgent emails”. Archie does not realise that he is making his work harder because now he has “important but not urgent emails” in different folders, with different flag, some as tasks, some as note on his agenda…
Using this plug-in:
Now, in one click, you are:
- Highlighting this emails as important but not urgent,
- Moving it to the TODAY folder so they are separated from the other emails.
- You will better organise your time as can see in one glance how many unread email are in the Today folder.
Why we bring emails contained into TODAY folder back to inbox?
- Important emails need to be archived and this is what we expect to happen. The number of emails contained into TODAY folder should decrease during the day to reach zero when Archie leaves office.
- Any process need some type of constrain to stop complacency and Archie deviating from it. In our case, it is a soft constrain as we believe that nobody likes redoing the same operation twice as Archie will need to resend the email to TODAY folder. But not only!!!
Why emails contained into TODAY folder are moved back to inbox as unread emails?
- It is also a security for Archie. Maybe, he was busy this day and he didn´t treat all the important emails contained into TODAY folder so they might become even urgent. Human nature makes that we start always by looking at the inbox to see what´s new and Archie is not different. Only later, he would think to go to our TODAY folder and it might be too late! So better to find the email where Archie would look first.
- Maybe Archie didn´t finish working on an email. As he opened it, its status would be “read” but if we move it back to his inbox without changing its status to unread, Archie might forget about it or might lose time looking for it. By changing it to unread, Archie will not miss any important emails.
This simplicity and the repeatability in the way Archie would be treating emails which are important but not urgent makes the difference. Now Archie has a solid process.
Not only Archie has a solid process, he is also saving time by avoiding multiple clicks or taking unnecessary decisions. All this saving add up very quickly.