Adrian recently blogged about how useful he had found the Nelson Email Organiser (NEO) Outlook add-in for managing his Inbox. I dutifully downloaded the trial version but found it made my Outlook unstable. So, despite its promise, I had to uninstall it. (most likely a reflection on my system than on NEO)
This made me keen, however, to try ClearContext, a similar system for managing your Inbox. And I have been impressed. Things I like are:
- Unlike NEO, everything is done in the familiar surroundings of Outlook.
- Great for all GTDers - ClearContext puts the onus on you to deal with your mail through your Inbox. Because Outlook rules automatically distribute emails to the relevant folder, I lose important to-do mails amongst these folders. By contrast ClearContext collects mail in Inbox, allocates a topic to it and waits for you to process it before filing it away by topic. For GTDers, this means you deal with the 2 minute items immediately, filing them away after, and use the GTD add-in to make tasks of the rest. Very neat.
- My contacts can relate to me in several ways at one time - they may be working with me on a project as well as arranging a beer evening out. Outlook rules do not easily allow you to file messages relative to the context of the message. In ClearContext each mail is filed relative to its topic rather than by hard rules. It also recognises that a series of mails with the same subject is a conversation and so automatically gives the same topic to all mails about the same subject.
- Finally ClearContext lets you prioritse mail. If you want new mail from your spouse, your boss or best customer to always show at the top of your inbox, this is a doddle. Out of the box, the software analyses your existing mail and guessed what might be important to you. This is easy to customise for your needs.
There are other features but ClearContext is well worth a look - its cheap and will help you if you are overwhelmed by your Inbox. Price $29.95. Take a look at NEO too.