From inbox to action: Strategies for turning emails into tasks

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As a business owner or entrepreneur, you know just how important email is to your daily operations. It’s how you communicate with clients, colleagues, and suppliers. It’s how you receive new leads, invoices, and even job offers. But it’s not just a means of communication; your email inbox can also be a powerful task management tool. 

By turning your emails into tasks, you can stay organised, prioritise your workload, and increase your productivity. In this blog, we’ll explore some effective strategies for turning your inbox into an action-driven task list.

Step 1: Identify Your Tasks

The first step in turning emails into tasks is to identify what needs to be done. Start by scanning your inbox and making note of any emails that require action. These could be requests from clients, follow-up emails from colleagues, or reminders about upcoming deadlines. Once you’ve identified your tasks, create a list of them in a separate document or task management tool (like Trello).

Step 2: Prioritise your tasks

Now that you have a list of tasks, it’s time to prioritise them. Take a moment to consider which tasks are most urgent or important. You can use a prioritisation system such as the Eisenhower Matrix, which categorises tasks into four categories: urgent and important, important but not urgent, urgent but not important, and neither urgent nor important. Once you’ve prioritised your tasks, assign them a due date or deadline. This will help you stay on track and ensure that you don’t miss any important deadlines.

Step 3: Create actionable tasks

Now that you have a list of prioritised tasks, it’s time to turn your emails into actionable tasks. Start by creating a task for each email on your list. Be sure to include all relevant information, such as the email subject, sender, and any important details or attachments. If the task requires additional information, add notes or comments to the task so you can refer back to it later.

Step 4: Use a task management tool

To keep track of your tasks and go from overwhelmed to organised, it’s essential to use a task management tool. There are many digital tools available that can help you manage your email tasks more efficiently, from simple to-do list apps to more complex project management software. Trello, for example, is a popular project management tool that allows you to create boards, lists, and cards to organise your tasks. 

You can easily drag and drop tasks between lists and assign due dates, labels, and comments to each task. Here’s how you can use Trello to create a list of tasks from your email inbox:

  • Start by creating a new board in Trello. You can name it “Email Tasks” or something similar.
  • Once you’ve created your board, create a new list for your tasks. You can name it “To Do” or something similar. By creating a separate list for your tasks, you can easily identify what needs to be done and ensure that nothing falls through the cracks.
  • To add your tasks, simply create a new card for each email that requires action. You can copy and paste the relevant information from the email into the card, including any attachments, due dates, or comments. 
  • Alternatively, Trello makes it simple to automate card creation by forwarding an email to a special address.
  • To make it easier to manage your tasks, you can categorise them by adding labels or assigning them to specific team members. For example, you could use labels to indicate the priority level of each task or the type of task it is (e.g. “Client Request,” “Follow-up,” “Meeting”).

Step 5: Automate your tasks

One way to streamline your task management process is to automate it as much as possible. Many email clients and task management tools offer automation features that can save you time and effort. For example, you can set up rules to automatically categorise emails and assign them to specific tasks or projects. You can also use templates to quickly create new tasks based on common email types or requests.

Step 6: Review and update your tasks regularly

To ensure that your task list remains accurate and up-to-date, it’s important to review and update it regularly. Set aside time each week to review your tasks, mark completed ones as “done,” and adjust due dates as needed. As you complete each task in Trello, for example, simply move the corresponding card to a new list, such as “In Progress” or “Completed.” This will help you track your progress, stay on top of your workload, and ensure that you don’t miss any important deadlines.

Step 7: Get a virtual assistant to do it for you

If you’re a busy entrepreneur, you may not have the time or resources to manage your inbox and turn your emails into actionable tasks on your own. That’s where a virtual assistant (VA) can be a valuable asset to your team. A VA can help you manage your inbox by reviewing and categorising your emails, identifying tasks that require action, and turning them into actionable tasks. 

They can also prioritise your tasks, assign due dates, and add notes or comments to each task. This can save you time and effort, allowing you to focus on other important tasks that require your attention. Hiring a virtual assistant can also help you automate your task management process by setting up rules and templates that streamline your workflow. They can also integrate your task management tool with your email client so that tasks are automatically created from incoming emails.Turning your inbox into a task management tool can be a powerful way to stay organised and boost your productivity. By following these simple steps and using the right tools (or a VA), you can turn your emails into actionable tasks and stay on top of your workload. With these strategies in place, you’ll be well on your way to inbox zero and greater efficiency in your business operations.

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