Converting Email into Scheduled Items

Ever since I learned that I could take an email and immediately transform it to an item in my schedule with its own start and end time, I have engaged in the habit almost daily.

In Outlook 2007 it’s a simple matter of dragging the item to the day in the calendar.  Outlook automatically opens up a new appointment on the given day, and from there it’s a simple matter of entering the appropriate times.

In other applications, the task is a much more difficult one to undertake.

In Gmail, doing this simple task is no mean feat — in fact, I’m not sure how to do it at all.  Google calendar is a different but related program that opens into a different window altogether (I’d love a reader to answer the question of to convert a Gmail item into an appointment for me.)

In like manner, stand-alone calendars might by useful but their lack of connection to daily email is a big no-no.

Good software should mimic the way a user processes items that enter their time management systems, but they seem to be thinking about each function in isolation, which leads to good software for calendars (e.g. Leader Task) and good software for email(e.g. Gmail) and only Outlook that even attempts to link the two… in a clumsy way that seems to have been added as an afterthought.

The new internet PDA’s such as the iPhone and Blackberry seem to be great at email, but weak at the full suite of 11 practices that make up a time management system,and especially “Scheduling.”  (I can’t admit to knowing a lot about either PDA, and am willing to be educated by reader who can let me know if I’m wrong.)

Hopefully the day will come when someone builds an integrated system starting with the 11 Fundamentals.  I think it could be quite powerful.

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3 Replies to “Converting Email into Scheduled Items”

  1. Also Lotus Notes makes this very easy. Just right-click on an email and select “Copy into new Calender Entry” or “Copy into new Todo”. It couldn’t be easier.

    Gmail has a “create event” option under the “more actions” button, but it lacks making to-do’s. This is one point Gmail could do better.

  2. Hi Francis,

    Can you clarify your point about Outlook’s process being “clumsy” and like an “afterthought”? I’m curious about areas where it could be improved, as I’m sure the Outlook PMs would be as well. How would you suggest this procedure be made easier/simpler/more efficient? Any thoughts or feedback to help better understand this would be appreciated.

  3. No problem — I have started a series of posts on how I think Outlook and other “organizer” programs could be reshaped around time management purposes.

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