Evernote Hacks Part II: Handling email and Inbox Zero with Evernote

We’re all overwhelmed by the amount of email we receive. On a bad day, there’ll be 30 new emails waiting after I’ve had a couple of meetings. Inbox Zero is the concept of trying to keep your email inbox empty and, as a result, your head free. Combining Email with Evernote is a great way to do just that.


This post is part of my Evernote Hacks series – check out the other posts!

In his book Getting Things Done, David Allen suggests to touch an email only once, and process it in your to-do system. If you leave stuff in your inbox, you’ll find yourself reading those emails over and over, at times where you actually don’t want to be distracted. Merlin Mann has introduced a similar concept, Inbox Zero, which originally meant that you shouldn’t waste your time on email, but is now often used as the idea of trying to keep your inbox empty.

Touch your email just once

A good way to process Email is to sort each email when you first read it:

  • Stuff you don’t need => Trash
  • Information you should store => save to Evernote
  • Emails that require that you take action => make a to-do item in your task planner (see my post on Implementing GTD with Evernote)
  • Emails you write yourself, and for which you await a reply => waiting for list in your task planner

Evernote is a great place to store all emails that don’t get trashed. I’ve explained why and how in the GTD Evernote post. Here, I’ll point out a couple of very useful ways to get your email into Evernote.

Cc’ing yourself to Evernote

Your Evernote account has an email address. Anything you email to that address lands in the notebook you have set as default notebook. If you don’t know how to find your Evernote email address, look here.

To store an email you’ve written, just cc yourself with the Evernote email address.

Saving email from the Gmail web interface

save gmail to EvernoteIf you use Gmail, you can save email conversations with the Evernote Webclipper. The Webclipper will automatically offer the Email option only when you’re on Gmail.

The great thing about this is that Evernote saves a link back to the original Gmail email. By clicking on that link, you go back to the email conversation. This is handy when you want to inquire about a task you’ve delegated, or when you need to email a result or status update of a task you are doing for someone else.


Saving email from Mac Mail.app with Evermail

The Evermail plugin for the Mac’s Mail.app creates that same sort of link, and clicking it opens the original mail in the Mail.app. I love this plugin. By the way, both Gmail and Evermail save any attachments in the Email to Evernote, too.

Many Email clients and mail apps on mobiles allow saving emails to Evernote. Unfortunately, a lot of apps just save unformatted text, don’t save any attachments, and don’t even save the email sender and title along with the email’s body. Examples of quite good Evernote integration are CloudMagic and Spark on iOS.

How do you get your emails into Evernote? Know any great apps that interface between Email and Evernote? Leave a comment and tell us about it!

Photo credit: Paper plane by DdOo on openclipart.com

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