Mail Client Is A Task Manager? No It Isn’t.

Mail Client Is A Task Manager? No It Isn’t.

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Why people who tried to track their tasks using mail clients in most cases faced with failure?

Many businesses opt for powerful task management tools when it comes to planning and managing a task or a project. They will help control the process of project management, will also improve the time management of the team and monitor the completion of the tasks.

At first glance, straightforward task tracking tools are Mail clients (MS Outlook, Bat, Spark etc.). It is easy to operate, and anyone can set up their email address in integration with Mail client.

In regards to task management functionality “Mail client followers” insist that:

  • Once the new emails are received, they will be easy converted into task and calendar items
  • Some of mails-into-task converting actions are performed automatically without any involvement of the account owner
  • Mail client works as a reminder and a task-tracking helper that will monitor the tasks that are due soon and will announce the deadline with a sound and a pop-up window
  • Mail client can be easily operated by all the team members involved in a project.

Still, keeping in mind real customer needs, Mail clients do not look the powerful task management tools. Let’s go step by step.


1. To-do list

An approach with using to-do lists to track tasks on daily basis became already very common practice and has a lot of followers who face more than one task every day. In the business sphere this approach became popular mostly thanks to the following benefits:

  • An implemented to-do-list could be a guide for the management if issues arise regarding the execution visibility.
  • It helps to increase the business performance and is an excellent tool to use when reporting on the outcome of the project.
  • A to-do-list can be incorporated into the workflow management and can include the timeline of the events and the records of the persons responsible for the specific acts in the project.

In Mail clients a mentioned easiness of converting emails into tasks leads to appearances “avalanche effect”, where all tasks are just gathered together and further structuring of tasks either impossible (for example, I have no idea how to create and track sub-tasks, how to link replies to task, follow-ups or several different conversations etc.) or will definitely takes additional efforts and manipulations. Emails marked as a task are still present in the Inbox which little helps in inbox zeroing.  So, it is not clearly visible how easily form to-do lists from the jungle of tasks.

That is why a lot of Mail client users prefer to create and track their to-do lists somehow in another place.


2. Communication and collaborations

Task management is most effective when it is mainly focused on resources, i.e. people, not solely on tasks themselves. A team is a valuable tool; therefore, the managers who use a conversation as the means to motivate, advise, resolve conflicts and to deal with people have better results. The employees who feel the connection with their manager will eagerly go above and beyond to do their best.

Individual performance will affect the overall team productivity and can negatively interfere with the smooth running of the project. It is crucial to work together on completion of challenging tasks to accomplish collective goals. Any good manager will agree that the work collaboration is necessary when a team is moving in the same direction.

Mail communication in its turn is too formal and official and is a very poor helper in building a trusting relationship between Manager and his or her team. Mail clients are not properly adapted for collaborations as well. Even having only 2 participants and it looks like “conversation ping-pong” but once a number of participants became more than two, agreed conclusion or decision could take much more time.


3. Individual performance

One of the characteristics of an excellent manager and a team player is the smart task delegation. This practice should be incorporated into a task management routine, as the trust in another person’s skills and abilities will empower them not only to work harder to achieve the results and to finish it before a deadline but also work on their skills which have to be improved. In a long-term perspective it will boost the productivity of a team tenfold and in the long run, will improve the performance of the company.

Mail clients do not allow to track the skill set of individuals on the fly. Therefore task delegation carried out by Manager mainly on intuitive base, which can somehow work effectively in small teams but lead to failure in big ones.


4.Capacity tracking

The right distribution of tasks between team members is one of the key factors of showing successful results in a middle and long-term perspective. Extra-efforts of individuals who overloaded with tasks, even if they are stars in their spheres, have to be tracked and appreciated by Manager very precisely. Repeatability of unreasonable task distribution leads to demotivation of some team members (in reality key team members) and all other ensuing problems.

In Mail clients there is no functionality neither to track capacity of delegates nor even list of tasks in their backlog. Which actually means that from capacity perspective task delegation goes in intuitive and therefore inefficient manner.


5. Visualization

The modern dynamic world is the world of multitasking and requires people to be always focused on finding solutions, task delegating and execution control. People have no time to “relax” studying how to find several features in IT product which are applicable to their specific needs among hundreds of other existing ones. They rather are looking for solutions which will resolve their particular cases in simple, transparent and smart manner.

Still, in attempts to create powerful tools for solving a lot of different problems, many IT companies propose extremely non-user-friendly solutions, which are too overcomplicated (hundreds features instead of 1-2 main ones), with poor design and/or too expensive ones (customers have to pay for features they don’t use). The bright representatives of such solutions are Mail clients. It seems that in average people use up to 20% (!) of all features these IT products. Looks that banking on wide functionality in Mail clients, IT companies in most cases ignored common trends in user-friendly interfacing.



Unfortunately, it seems that Mail clients can not cover needs in task tracking even at minimal reasonable level. Mail tracking and task management are still two different worlds.

Still shifting into Task management tools completely is also hard as majority of task discussions and reports goes in email conversation. A lot of Task management tools declare about integration with the most popular mail clients. In fact, this is realized thru email notifications about events in a task management tool, which is obviously not enough.

Definitely, we need a solution.

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