Today I am sharing with you ActiveInbox, one of the digital tools that allow me to stay on top of, not just the minimising, but running my blog. And, well, organising my life in general.
My Tech Story
For the longest time, considering I am a tech geek, I wouldn’t pay for software if there were free versions available. At one point, when I got sick of Windows XP (although I still remember how amazing that operating system seemed after Windows 3.1 LOL), I was using a free Linux operating system with an open-source free set of software. I could do what I needed to do, but it didn’t look pretty. Then Windows 8 came out, and I got a new laptop that had this installed, and I was happy with it. I stayed with Window’s then (upgrading to Windows 8.1 then later to 10) until December 2017 when I got a new MacBook Pro with which I have fallen in love. I still have a Windows 10 desktop computer which I use for Gaming and Craft Artist Pro, but the MacBook takes care of business, including running this blog. I will let you know up front that ActiveInbox is a premium tool. One thing I have learnt through all these years is that software with a price is there for a reason! I am still happy to find free tools that do a great job I am neither made of money or daft! but when something comes along that can improve your life so much I am happy to open my wallet!
How ActiveInbox transformed my Email
I get a lot of emails! I am working on a little project removing blog notifications from my Inbox and subscribing using my Feedly account instead. The beauty of this is that I can enjoy catching up on everything in a chill-out session, I can even use my iPad on the couch or bed. Reading people’s blogs is leisure time, and my Gmail Inbox is for productivity, not pleasure (although productivity is a pleasure for me too)
To deal with my email, I have been using one tool for years ever since it came out as a beta trial. That tool is ActiveInbox, and it has totally transformed my email life. However much mail I get I am always in control, for anyone else with Fibromyalgia you know Fibro Fog can cause your memory to be unreliable but with ActiveInbox I miss no deadlines. Unless I am in a severe Fibro flare-up and don’t log on at all, but this is a tool, not a miracle solution!
A Guided Walk Through
On the screenshot above you can see the header bar. As you will notice towards the left-hand side, there are folders saying “Today”, which contains the emails I need to do something with today, “Tomorrow” you’ve guessed it… then the calendar drop-down which includes “Overdue”, “This Week” and “All Dates”. You can edit which ones are on display by pinning them I also have pinned “Overdue” just in case… The next set of folders are for things on your radar but no specific date; you can completely customise these to suit your situation.
As you can see, I have pinned “Next Action” which is a higher priority, “Action” and “Considering”. I use “Considering” for things I may or may not be going to follow up on, items to purchase or invitations, etc. Other status options on my list include “One Day” for projects and ideas I will do, but they do not have to be on my radar yet. Some things in the “Action” may be relatively quick so I am not too concerned with the 103 count if I have had a flare-up and got behind I can easily unpin the “Action” from the visible bar so it is less daunting. It will still be there in the dropdown but not in my face.
Projects and Contexts
The final two drop downs on the right contain first “Projects” then “Contexts”. You can use nesting tags for these. So, as an example under the projects, I have “Blogging” with the subcategories “Affiliates”, “Networking” and “Review Items” amongst others. In the “Contexts” I have things like “Motoring”, “Finance” and “Beta Testing”. Underneath the Contexts, there is also a section for “References”, and I use things like “To Read” and “To Watch”. When a project finishes like a folder “Christmas 2017” I could merely archive it, so it is still in my Gmail but hidden.
Inbuilt Task Manager
You may also notice on the left-hand side next to Compose there is also New Task so you can also use it as a stand-alone task manager but I prefer to keep these in another tool, so I use this for email-related tasks, i.e. a reminder to Email someone.
While you are reading an email, you can quickly add all these conditions to it and also replace the heading with what you need to do next.
The view inside a message
As you can imagine, I have chosen a message I am happy to show the title of, in this case, it is just an update from Goodreads. You can see the bar above where you can add dates or statuses and projects or contexts and then you can use the add subtasks or notes. The subtasks (and you can use several steps) show in place of the title so I could replace “New updates from authors you follow” with “Read about upcoming books” as an example. The notes column sits to the right-hand side at the top when you open the message. These notes are handy if you have made a phone call between emails, for instance, you can jot the notes down here.
A free month on me
If you need to get your email under control and want to give Active Inbox a go yourself, you can have a free month if you follow my link, you will also add credit for me too, so it is a win-win situation.
This extension only works with Gmail at the moment but they have a section on the website where they keep you up to date with possible development for other email providers. It is most effective on Chrome which is my browser of choice, but I think you can use it with Firefox and Safari but I would recommend reading this first on the ActiveInbox blog. There is also an Android and IOS version which you get included with the subscription.
Managing multiple accounts
I pay for the personal account, the cheapest version but I can still use it to manage other accounts too, I set my blog email address to auto-forward to my personal account. Likewise with my old maiden name email (so I can pick up any stragglers who I may not have been in contact with since the wedding but don’t want to lose contact with). The auto-forwarders work in such a way I can send email from the other accounts all within my Gmail ActiveInbox. Let me know in the comments if you would like me to talk you through setting up auto-forwarding between email accounts.
The benefits of Gmail
If you are not using Gmail you are missing out. I have in the past created email accounts with Yahoo Mail and Outlook so I can help other people to understand email but I would never consider using them for myself. There is not the versatility you get with Gmail tags. If you are using Gmail but you have not come across ActiveInbox, trust me it is a game-changer and the support the team provide is exceptional. If you have any doubt, why not find out about Andy and his team on their about us page, they are some good guys!
Don’t forget you can have a free month if you follow my link, and let me clarify although I will get credit to my account this is NOT a sponsored post I am not being paid to write this I honestly love ActiveInbox.