Managing Email

In a follow-up to my previous post, let me include my full email workflow here.

Email philosophy

  1. Email is a necessary evil. Avoid it as much as possible. There is no joy in email. If using it is inevitable, use it effectively.

  2. Email is not web browsing. Do not use a web browser to process email. Do not use an email client to browse the web.

  3. Email is not a task manager. Do not use email to manage your work. Do not use a task manager to flood your inbox.

  4. Email is a communications tool. Use it to communicate.

Minimize Overhead

Delete and Filter


Task Management

A task is a unit of work that takes some form of effort to complete.

  1. All tasks must have a clear description.
  2. All tasks must have a deadline. If there is no actual deadline, make one up.

Start of day

  1. Decide which tasks are going to be worked on today and mark them as such.
  2. Prioritize tasks by rearranging them.

Completing tasks

  1. Work on tasks. Keep notes associated with task if it cannot be completed in one session.

  2. Update the deadline if it is unlikely that you will make it. There is no shame in pushing back work that isn’t done. In fact, Agile folks call it backlogging.

  3. Communicate with task requestor.

  4. Mark task as complete after finishing work.

No more tasks left for the day? Decide if more tasks should be completed, and if it is feasible to do so. If so, add one task at a time.

Using Obsidian

Obsidian is a note taking tool. However, notes and To Do items have a lot of overlap. While I use Obsidian for its intended purpose, I also use it as a To Do manager. For this to be most effective, I activated a few community plugins. Specifically for this purpose, Tasks and Templater.

How does it work? My Daily Note template is structured as follows:

Daily Note Template

Each day, as I work through stuff, I add Notes. Usually, these are short bullet lists. If a new To Do items emerges, it goes on top. Use the markdown syntax:

This is rendered as:

Rendered To Do Item

Tags (here: #mcs) are very helpful in filtering, and a lot of Obsidian’s strength comes from using tags appropriately.

The beauty is that I can now easily run an overview of pending TODO items.

To Do Script

This is rendered as:

Pending To Do Items

The hyperlink connects me back to the note in which the To Do item was created and lets me establish context. The due date is sortable, searchable, and filterable. It is trivial to create a report on ‘Items due today’, for example.

By checking the box, the item is marked as completed. In the note that created the, the box is checked too and the completion date is added.

Completed Note

In today’s daily note, the issue is included as “completed today”!

Completed Note

Lastly: Obsidian stores everything as Markdown files. Even if the tool will eventually go away, I’ll still have all of this easily greppable!