Processing email for reading later

I started using a particular pattern of behavior while processing my email, and I took it a step further so now I hardly have any email in my inbox when I check. Basically, I filter messages that are not time sensitive, but are still things I want to read, I forward them to a Trello board, and then delete them.

These messages are from Amazon, Kickstarter, my hosting companies, my Congress person, or my backup script messages, for instance. They are things that I need to be aware of, and can process once every day or so, but I don’t want sitting in my inbox where it will contribute to my cognitive fatigue.

Part of my workflow is to use the Trello Android app to put the cards created into their own columns or boards, so I can then act on them if needed. Most days my inbox only has a couple messages that aren’t captured in this way. Neato!

Now, on the other hand, this is horrible, because Trello is a closed service that can’t be trusted. And I don’t, because I don’t use it for anything that if it went away tomorrow, or leaked all my infos, I would be in trouble. It is a stopgap solution until I’ve setup until something better comes along.

One configuration I set up that could have worked really well was Kanboard, which has inbound email integrations (among others). It allows me to forward email from my address, but it doesn’t jibe with direct forwarding, because it authenticates with the user’s email address, which is never mine, so meh.

A project I’ve been keeping my eye on is Wekan (formerly LibreBoard), which seems like a candidate to get inbound email parsing at some point. That would be really great for me. :slight_smile:

Faruk Ates said:

Wouldn’t it be more interesting if you had a mail client that included this kind of functionality, rather than an automated system to use a third party service?

This is what I’ve been thinking about in terms of an email client app design, as I have this exact same need/desire as you, but I’d rather have an in-app client “to read/process later” bucket that I can switch to when I want to do that.

I don’t want that in an app, actually. Having that bucket is probably a useful feature for some, but not for me. When I send a message to an external service/bucket, it is because I am going to operate on the messages in that capacity.

For instance, when I send things to various kanban boards, it skips the step of creating a card to be processed by my arbitrary workflow in that board. Maybe I am gathering reference materials. Maybe I need that message to go through the columns I set up.

I am also interested in processing mail into a larger index that has cross-references and other metadata. A wiki comes to mind, which could parse the messages in such a way as to automagically add that content to my externalized memory (personal wiki), which would be tremendously useful once automated, and is a bit more involved than what I’d expect from a mail client.

But I am open to being surprised! I wouldn’t mind use a wiki or kanban board as the default mode for showing an “inbox”, so maybe that is a possibility. :slight_smile:

I just started using Active Inbox ( ) a few days ago. It makes your gmail view into an Asana-style GTD-inspired todo list. I kinda like it mostly because it really handholds you through GTD-ish behaviors. It’s a bit clunky to use — the javascript takes a while to load, and it doesn’t look good with custom gmail themes — but I’m giving it a try.

maiki, after reading your comment, I realize use my gmail account as externalized memory. There aren’t direct links to other emails, but I use tags (“folders” but I only use them like tags) to find and organize things, sort of. I still have lots of things that I know I “saved” by emailing myself but could never find again, like the date of expiration for my driver’s license.

That looks like a useful tool if you use email as you do, Judy. I practice inbox 0, as well as deleting my mail each month (so my search doesn’t extend pass the last couple of months at any given time, except for sent mail, which I keep for about a year).

I do this for lots of reasons, bit the big two is that email is a natural target for compromise from bad actors, and it also has a cognitive expense that I feel increases over time. The expense may be tied to how I relate to my email, in that I own those messages and am responsible for their ongoing storage. I suspect most folks don’t call into question the long-term stewardship of their email.

Anyhow, because email is a drain on me, I use it as an incoming bucket of information that needs to be filed elsewhere. Fortunately, given my lifestyle choices in default to public life, most of my mail can be processed “in public”, like in a wiki or kanban. For everything else I use local text files and a few private, secure platforms to keep my notes.