This is a series of posts helping you to make the most out of ActiveInbox.
ActiveInbox is all about having your tasks lists available in the place you check everyday, all day – Gmail.
The first thing you see when you open up Gmail is your Inbox, so you probably want to be reminded of any urgent tasks right there and then.
That’s why we give you a list of your most urgent tasks just above your Inbox by default. This is your ‘Today’ list – it is all the emails you’ve marked with a due date that expire today or are overdue.
Every morning you can rank and prioritise these critical tasks by dragging and dropping them as you would in a normal list.
But ActiveInbox is all about flexibility. So:
- Want to keep things simple and your Inbox at the top?
- Click the radar button and drag your Today section below the Inbox in the left hand panel.
- Don’t use due dates very often?
- Put your Action list above your Inbox by dragging it over from the right.
- Have too many tasks that are overdue?
- Remove overdue tasks from your today view in two clicks by going to the ActiveInbox preferences and scrolling down to the Active Results section where you can un-check the option.
You’ll be pleased to know that we’ve finally tracked down why some people were experiencing issues with Send Later – and we’ve fixed it.
What has happening was that a handful of our customers were using it on an industrial scale to schedule thousands of emails all at the same time. This was overloading our servers and causing everyone else’s scheduled emails to wait in a queue behind these few people’s newsletter releases.
Sincere apologies to those of you who may have experienced some emails being sent later than intended.
It shouldn’t happen again so if it does please make sure you drop us an email about it at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gmail has only one signature you can use, and it will add itself to all your emails and replies, every time. It is not exactly well designed or flexible for businesses.
If you’ve ever used the desktop version of Outlook you’ll know how easy it is to add different signatures to an email.
But you can also have quick access to multiple saved signatures in Gmail.
All you need to do is enable the Gmail ‘Lab’ (an extension) built by the Gmail team themselves, called Canned Responses. You can simply enable it from Gmail’s settings.
The good news is that once you enable the Canned Responses lab you can achieve everything that Outlook offers with signatures, and more.
You can even use it for quick access to saved emails that you frequently send to people, or set up filters for incoming messages that can send an auto-reply using one of your canned responses.
Set up Canned Responses
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Focus in Gmail
After trying a complicated approach to ‘focusing’, with timers and other nuisances, we realised it wasn’t helping you stay calm – a key component of being able to focus.
So we stripped it right back, and simply removed all the distractions in Gmail (with the happy side effect of making it a much more airy, visually pleasing environment).
Just click ‘Focus Mode’ on the sidebar, or the eye icon next to Gmail’s Settings button.
The majority of the work has been 100s of little usability improvements – really refining the details. I believe every single element of ActiveInbox has been considered and tweaked.
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The day has finally come! We have already started rolling out our iOS mobile Beta to a small group of testers and now want to start expanding it.
There are only about 1000 slots available for access to this beta testing stage so we are operating a first come first served waiting list.
If you are nervous about testing a Beta app or don’t want the hassle, you can choose in the sign-up process to be invited at a later stage of the Beta when most of the bugs have been ironed out.
(In-case you don’t know what I man by a ‘Beta’, we mean that this app is not a finished, polished app that you can download directly from the app store. It will be soon – but we need time to iron out any problems and improve it with your help first. You can find out more on the sign up page.)
Please SIGN UP HERE: http://www.activeinboxhq.com/mobile_beta.php
We’ll email you with an invite by 13th February if you get your name in quickly enough!
Thanks for your support.
Please note, the iOS Beta app is only available to paid ActiveInbox users due to the limited number of spaces.
PS: Our Android app will soon be ready to start testing also, and will be much more widely available at the Beta stage. However, as we have limited development resources, we are using the iOS app to develop the interface to a certain level first rather than working concurrently on 2 different systems. This means it could be a while before we release the Android Beta.
Ever had someone reply to an email using a fresh subject line and ended up with several different email conversations – all about the same thing, but at different stages of the conversation?
Annoying isn’t it.
Here is a great little hack you can use to get around this very common and inconvenient issue. And yes, it involves copy and paste! Technical eh?
- Chose which email conversation you want to be the main consolidated one – probably the most recent one where people are still sending replies, or the one with the clearest subject line if the conversation is dead.
- Go to the other conversations, scroll to the most recent email in it, expand the conversation history below, and copy everything from the top of the most recent email to the end of the history.
- Go back to your conversation which you’ve chosen to consolidate and create a new reply at the bottom, sending it to yourself only. Paste in everything you’ve just copied and send.
- Rinse and repeat for any other old scattered threads on the same subject which you want consolidated.
- And voila. You have 1 current email conversation where you can see everything that has been said about the subject, all in one conversation view.
Remember – make sure you keep private emails out of the thread history within a conversation.
Any other Gmail hacks you use? Share them with the ActiveInbox community in the comments section below!
About time, right?
We’ve now fully automated our signup process for ‘Business’ plans and individual ‘Starter’ accounts. This means we can start offering group discounts, centralised billing and team admin controls for groups of 3+ people again!
Don’t worry – if you want to chat we’re still here to help you with any questions you may have: email@example.com.
The volume discount calculation remains the same – check it out with our slider next to the Business account option on our Pricing page:
At the request of some fairly high profile users, we’re going to start posting some tips about using Gmail at work on this blog that you might – or might not – find useful. Feel free to pitch in with your own tips in the comments section below!
Avoid that dreaded moment when a private email gets sent round to everyone in a conversation!
Sometimes you want to send a private message to only one person in an ongoing group conversation. You could just start a new conversation. But if you want to keep everything together, you can send a private email within a group conversation, without the others subsequently seeing it in the minimized email thread.
First send your private message from the reply pane at the bottom as normal, just editing the Recipients. Once you want to continue the group conversation don’t use the reply pane at the bottom – it could include your private message also.
Instead, scroll up to the last group email in the conversation and click the reply button on that email. This way, your private email will be cut out of the thread and there will be no embarrassments!
Always be sure to check the minimized thread list at the bottom of your email though before you end it to ensure there are no private messages included.
Lastly, make sure you’ve enabled the brilliant ‘Undo Send’ feature in Gmail (Gmail Settings>Labs>enable ‘Undo Send’). This gives you a 10 second window after you send an email to retrieve it for editing – perfect if you make a mistake like including a private message in a thread.
The lovely folks over at Godel in Melbourne have written a nice piece about using ActiveInbox even if you are not bothered about reaching that ever elusive “Inbox Zero”. It’s a great read – and perfect to convince those reluctant colleagues of yours how great Gmail can be! The original is here.
Emails come and emails go
The inbox is a transient place; emails come and emails go, intermittently demanding all of your attention and interrupting your day.
As a project manager, my working life revolves around this ever-changing environment that consistently churns out pieces of sporadic data. I get an email, I read it, then I action it (most of the time… some of the time… I try?). Sometimes an email needs to be turned into a task in Asana or a ticket in Pivotal Tracker, maybe it requires an iCal reminder or maybe all I need to do is type a reply.
The inbox is hell
Like most project managers or people who deal with lots of emails, I had some pretty common problems:
- More often than not, I was losing track of email threads and getting pulled away from the computer to come back to the screen and forget all about replying to that email.
- Another headache came from the old chestnut of clients forgetting to ‘Reply All’ and getting conversations about various projects caught up in infinite threads going back to the dawn of time… Where is it? What was it about? Why is my brain spinning?
- Once I’d replied to an email, that email disappeared in to the ether and if the client didn’t get back to me, it was easy for that inquiry, task or action to just never, ever happen.
There have been many articles written on various ways to deal with email hell. Some people like to zero their inboxes at regular points. Some people prefer to engage as many third-party tools as possible to filter communications via non-email pathways.
Personally, ActiveInbox has been a lifesaver. If you work with Gmail in the browser, this Chrome extension is a keeper. This little project management secret I was shown when I first started working at Godel has genuinely changed my relationship with my inbox. I have less anxiety about the influx of emails strangling my conscience on a Monday morning, and I can monitor projects and timelines with ease knowing I’ll never miss an email beat.
Activate your Gmail inbox
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