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Doc ApprovED: Say Goodbye to Email Clutter

Mohseni, Alex MD

doi: 10.1097/01.EEM.0000512779.24270.6c
Doc ApprovED

Dr. Mohseniis an emergency physician in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area and the chief innovation officer of Emergency Medicine Associates. He is the editor of his own blog,http://CreativeHealthLabs.com. Follow him on Twitter @amohseni, and read his past columns athttp://bit.ly/EMN-DocAPProvED.

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With technology comes a different kind of clutter — emails. Sortd (www.sortd.com) is a Gmail add-on that brings Trello-like kanban boards to your inbox. What's a kanban board? It's a tool that people can use to visualize the different elements in their workflow, bringing organization and clarity to bottlenecks and other issues.

The kanban concept originated from Toyota's lean manufacturing process and has been found to add perhaps even more value to knowledge work, in which it is often even more difficult to visualize workflows, dependencies, and bottlenecks. The application Trello is an online kanban board tool that has become one of the most popular project management tools for many businesses.

Sortd brings Trello-like functions directly to Gmail. You can install Sortd from its website, and clicking a button on the right edge of Gmail pulls the Sortd skin over your email. It allows you to drag individual emails onto different boards displayed in columns, or create new items from scratch. Each item on the board is linked to the email associated with it and can have due dates assigned, be color-coded, and store notes.

If you don't buy into the typical kanban flow of to-do doing done, you can rename each board however you'd like and add additional boards as needed. I have found it helpful to create separate boards for each large project and dump all my related emails and to-dos into it. It's also useful to create a board labelled “follow up,” which is a list of emails where I am waiting for the other party to do something, and another board labelled “sometime,” which are noncritical things for me to review at a later time.

You will also be able to send emails directly to your desired board just by clicking several buttons on your regular Gmail interface with Sortd. The overall concept here is to get everything out of your email inbox, and have a tool that helps you prioritize what is most important to do next.

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