Email for your to do’s?

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Should you use your email as a to do list?

There are pros and cons, as there are to most other organizing issues. 

The cons: 

  1. It gets too crowded in your in box to find things effectively, unless you’re a champ at deleting emails (forest for the trees syndrome),
  2. even if you use clearly labeled folders, you can have too many places to look to find your to do’s (a GTD no-no),
  3. you have to rely on the way the email is phrased by its writer, which won’t be consistent with the way you’d write things on your own to do list (and you’ll probably have to wade through several paragraphs of blah blah blah to get to the to-do),
  4. once you do something, do you delete the email?  If you don’t delete it, it just clogs up the in box.  You can mark an email as replied-to, or create a whole stack of subject folders to parcel them into, but that’s a lot of work. 

The pros: 

  1. Hey, it’s right there.  No more work to do (such as writing it down elsewhere),
  2. some emails contain a to-do that will take you 2 minutes or less, so it’s not worth the effort to record it elsewhere,
  3. if you need to re-read a thread of messages to refresh your memory and trace the progress of the to-do, they’re all right there and
  4. you can park emails in a Waiting For folder so you can follow up on what you’ve done. I don’t generally recommend folders. It’s super easy to search your email so creating folders for everything is a waste of time. 

What do you think? Do you have a favorite method?