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Transitioning from Email

Harmonie SpaldingLast Updated: January 29, 2014

It’s well established that email is an inefficient way to manage your work, have meaningful discussions, and keep track of files. In fact, you’ve probably already found an app like Flow to do those things for you. But what do you do when your colleagues still use email for the work you share?

Regardless of your own workflow, you’ll always have to accommodate the way your peers work–and often that means dealing with email. Here are some tips to help you maintain order in a sea of emails.

Forward to your app

Whenever you’re asked to do something over email, just forward the email to your app, and it will automatically create a task for you. You won’t have to write up an acknowledgment email, and you won’t have to remember to do the task later, it’ll just be added to what’s on your plate. Whenever you update the task with a comment or completion, the app will send them an email, so they don’t even have to login. They’ll be gently influenced to improve their workflow because of this.

How will this influence them? First off, they’ll have a place to follow up with you where they know you’ll hear them, the request will stay unburied, and they won’t be disruptive.

Second, they’ll notice that you tend to get things done and not let work slip through the cracks. Logically, they’ll want to know how you do it. This is the perfect time to do an intro. Take a few minutes to walk them through the tool, show how you use it, and share how it makes things easier. Instead of grumbling to go make a task (like you did before), you’re now coaching your colleagues when they want it, and you’re winning the battle against email.

Reply inline

You can choose to get notified by email whenever something happens with one of your tasks. By replying to the notification, you’ll add your comment to the task thread, so that it doesn’t get missed. This will keep you on top of things as they happen, and lets you stay in the conversation even while you’re out and about.

Let the tool adapt to you

The transition from email to social tasks may take some getting used to. People will still check and send emails, and that’s okay. That’s why these notifications exist: so that teams can be more effective without uprooting their whole process. Andrew Peters, Director of User Experience Strategy at EPIC, recently told us about how EPIC uses Flow, and we think one of the things he said rings true for the reality of how many teams work:

The mobile app and ability to comment via email enabled us to stay connected without having to drastically change our workflow.

Bring in latecomers

Often it’ll happen that someone new to the project or to your team will need to be briefed on the current state of affairs. They’ll usually send you piecemeal questions by email that slowly reveal your knowledge as they need it. “Why did we go with that option?” “Could you send me the file?” “Where are we at with our upcoming objective?” Instead of patiently responding to each one–every emailed response eating away at your time and energy–simply invite them, and give them access to the project in your app. They can then catch themselves up, access files, and join the conversation when they’re ready–no side-coaching training threads required.

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