As part of my effort to practice ‘Gettings Things Done‘ I bought the Mailtags plugin for Mail.app. Of course, my GTD efforts are wavering a bit as the year progresses, but there are some things about Mailtags that are quite novel. A lot of people told me “You should get blahblah GTD app to do GTD properly” (eg. Omnifocus, iGTD or one of the others). I’m a bit hesitant to just get dependent on ‘yet another app’, and I spend a lot of time looking at email, so I thought ‘why can’t i get Mail.app to help me do my GTD stuff’
Mail.app has a few interesting features out of the box that are quite helpful like being able to write arbitrary Notes or ToDos that end up in your inbox somewhere. I don’t use the todos, but I do like the Notes. I feel more confident that I’ll find a note later if I write it in Mail.app than if I just write a little text file and leave it somewhere in my home directory. Sure there is spotlight to help find stuff, but Notes in Mail.app are effectively right in front of you … and you can have them appear in your Inbox if you need a more visual reminder.
So what does mailtags do that I like? These are the main things for me;
- It’s easier to highlight messages with a colour. Mail.app can already do this, so long as you have a mail rule doing it, but sometimes you just want to make a message ‘stand out’
- You can have a ‘Keywords’ column in the main message list and that can show @Followup, @Action, etc (you can add user defined ones, but the basic ones are like GTD)
- You can attach arbitrary notes to a message and use them to change the subject of a message in the message list. Its such a weird thing to want to change the subject of a message, but I find it quite useful. Usually I use it to write in the next action for a task. For example, I get an email in from a client asking ‘Can you confirm next Monday to see if we’ll go ahead with the outage’. Now I could get off my arse and add an entry to my calendar, but for some reason I just change the subject to [ Confirm with Peter on Monday 23rd] (and I actually put the square brackets in to signify to me that the subject is changed … even though Mailtags changes the subject to italics anyway). The attached notes actually ‘stick’ to a mail thread, so if I reply to the email in question, then get another reply back, the note is attached to the new reply as well.
The main downside of Mailtags is the cost. I ummed and arrred for quite some time before spending the US$30 on it. Here in NZ thats quite a bit. But in the end it’s quite useful