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Eisenhower Your Emails: Make Your Inbox Productive Again

How many unread emails do you currently have sitting in your inbox?

How many important urgent emails do you receive per day vs those time wasting emails?

Have you missed or forgot to action an important email? 

Have you got lost between the trail of conversations on a client or subject matter?

Since majority of our work is usually triggered by an email either requesting information from us or receiving new information to process we tend to fall into a trap that our email tool also becomes our workflow tool. However email is not a productive workflow tool as it doesn't organise or priortise the information received. 

The Eisenhower matrix is a famous productivity analysis which I believe holds true with our emails. Using Flow I have been able to "Eisenhower my Emails" in order to maximise productivity and reclaim control over my inbox.

The Eisenhower Matrix




The Eisenhower Matrix essentially is to categorise each incoming email as either urgent-important, urgent-unimportant, non urgent-important, non-urgent-unimportant based on each relevant category we would action, delay, delegate, delete in our chosen workflow tool.

This article I have chosen to demonstrate on Trello as the workflow tool. However I have applied same logic to Planner & Basecamp. 

emailflowpic1.png

Expression to extract only the email address is: 

first(split(last(split(triggerbody()['From'],'<')),'>'))

Expression to extract only the senders name is:

first(split(triggerbody()['From'],'<'))


Since Trello does not support HTML (Markdown) we need to convert HTML to Plain Text.

(Note if HTML viewing is a must for you, you can do a similar logic flow but instead of Trello you can use Basecamp - create To Dos Lists of categories important-urgent, non important-urgent etc). Although I must say when skim reading many emails during the day to get to the point of what you need to action, plain text can be helpful on the mind as it takes away distracting (and mind absorbing) pictures and formatting so your brain doesn't have to process as much. Plain text I have found to be really useful to just get to the key aspects of the email with such a quick skim of the eye and I have found my brain doesn't take on as much energy in doing so, maybe give plain text it a try Smiley Happy)

emailflow2.png
 
The Excel Category Table Design is:

emailflow3.png

emailflow4.png
The Process of maintaining the worksheet is as follows:

Using "Get List by ID" and creating a simple flow Trigger: When a New Email is Received Action: Get Lists by ID on Trello and reviewing the results I was able to obtain the ID numbers for the four trello lists in my Inbox Trello Board. Then each time I need to categorise an email based on email address I make sure to copy over the right Trello List ID.

emailflow5.png

emailflow6.png

 

This Flow is identifying if the senders email address is on our excel table that categorises it, if it is not on the table, it then adds a trello card on the "uncategorised" list and updates the Excel table that a sender email address is currently classified as "uncategorised". 

One issue to note is at the moment adding Email attachments to Trello cards is an issue for Flow. However I am aware Zapier is able to do this, so I am sure this is just a temporary hiccup that Microsoft will solve over time. A workaround on this is linking to a onedrive folder or sharepoint (logic based on senders name). 

I have included a link to the email for ease to view the emails since while Trello is a workflow tool which has now using Flow has integrated Email functionality, it can not be an email viewer as it not a HTML viewer.  

emailflow7.png

In this component, the logic is if the filter is not empty i.e. it was able to locate the email address in the excel table than create a card in the list ID as stated in the Excel table. 

If email notifcations are causing you frustrations because you a getting so many non-urgent emails, an easy extra step to implement is to add on to this Flow the following:

emailflow8.png

In this case I can now switched off my email mobile notifications and be assured I will still keep real time notifcations on important and urgent matters only. 

For non-important urgent emails you can send email details to a Trello board where you have invited your delegate staff into so they will be notified in real time. Alternatively you could notify them in their chosen manner using the same logic you could send them an email, post on a Planner bucket, create a Basecamp Task etc. This is s helpful productivity boost as delegated staff will be notified of relevant emails in real time without having to wait on you to manually forward the email to them. Additionally the emails are organised for your team so there is no more excuses of forgetting to attend or oversight of an email. 

The benefit of Flow is we can keep ourselves organised without having to impede on other people's working tools & style. We just "Flow" with them using the connectors. In this example I am able to use Trello to organise and priortise my emails and easily move the cards into my relevant Trello workflow boards (broken down into clients, administration duties) and still have the ability to receive mobile notifcations and delegate to others without requiring any organisational changes or impact on other people. Flow has given us the ability to create the best for ourselves with minimal disruption to our fellow teammates, a "best of both worlds".   

Comments

Nice. flow use scenario.

Me too, I'm using Microsoft Flow for important email to set flag and alert me.

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  • Working daily with Microsoft Cloud to deliver the needs of my company, my customers and various Microsoft communities and forums. | Office 365 | Flow | PowerShell | PowerApps | SharePoint |
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  • Microsoft Business Apps MVP. Owner of ThriveFast, an Office 365 consulting company.
  • 7x Microsoft Business Solutions MVP (CRM)
  • Solution Architect with Slalom, and organizer of the Boston Office 365 User Group, and long term SharePoint/Office 365 veteren. Find more at http://www.davidlozzi.com. Follow @DavidLozzi
  • I'm keen in MS technologies, SharePoint, Office 365 and development for them
  • Daniel is a Business Productivity Consultant & Microsoft Business Solutions MVP who is very enthusiastic about all things Office 365, Microsoft Flow, PowerApps, Azure & SharePoint (Online). Since the preview, Daniel has been working with Microsoft Flow and later on with Microsoft PowerApps. That led to him being awarded an MVP Award for Business Solutions. He loves to blog, present and evangelize about improving productivity in the modern workspace with these amazing tools!
  • Michelle is an Office 365 solution architect in Twin Cities, MN. She has been delivering business collaboration solutions for years with her focus on SharePoint and Office 365. Michelle is a recent board member of the Minnesota Office 365 User Group and has been a member of the SharePoint community since 2009. She is a frequent speaker at MNSPUG and SharePoint Saturday and co-chaired the Legal SharePoint User Group for 4 years. Her most frequent projects have involved rolling out a large deployment of Office 365, SharePoint Online intranet, build of a "CHAMPS" Office 365 user adoption program and most recently, SharePoint On-Premise to Online Migration. Michelle is very excited about cloud technology as it is shifting her IT Pro focus to collaboration strategy and technical adoption.
  • I'm a Microsoft Office Servers and Services MVP with a special interest in SharePoint, Office 365, Microsoft Flow, Microsoft Teams and PowerApps. I work at Triad Group Plc ( https://triad.co.uk)