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Mail Pilot: A New Approach To Email and Task Management [Interview]

Mail Pilot: A New Approach To Email and Task Management [Interview]

    There are so many people that just won’t get out of their email application to manage tasks. While this has been a problem in the past, new solutions like Asana and Flow allow for email and task management to be integrated within the task management solution. In many cases, the person who doesn’t want to go into the task manager can simply respond and check off tasks via email, removing a lot of the friction that can happen in a team environment.

    But there’s a new kid on the block that actually lets you manage things from within email — using your email inbox as a task manager. That’s something that many people do already, but in a very impractical way. Mail Pilot looks as if it will add the practicality that’s been missing from the equation.

    Mail Pilot is a Kickstarter-funded project that tackles email and task management in a way that is innovative and productive.

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    What does Mail Pilot do? Well, here’s the word on that straight from the source:

    “Mail Pilot is a computer application & service that lets you use your current email accounts in a way that is much more intuitive than today’s email applications. Mail Pilot reimagines email from the ground up, and is built to fit into the workflow of how people use email today.”

    But that didn’t answer all of my questions. So I spoke about Mail Pilot with its creators, Josh Milas & Alex Obenauer, shortly after the project went live on Kickstarter.

    Mike: I’ve taken a look at Mail Pilot, and it looks really compelling because people who are wanting to manage and/or use their inbox to manage things in terms of productivity and such. Why did you decide to start this thing up and what was the plan behind it?

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    Alex: So I was in a class in the fall semester and we had to keep a design journal. And a couple of weeks into the semester the professor said that he was going to be doing a check of our journals…and I actually hadn’t written anything in mine yet. So I went home and I tried to come up with a problem that was so big and so problematic that would fill a lot of pages. I chose email because that’s one of my biggest issues — I receive 80 plus emails on average a day, which is less than most people’s average.

    And so I started to write about it — and within three pages the entire concept behind Mail Pilot was there. It was very much a thing where I had such an issue with email and really broke it down try to figure out what the essence of email was, and how you would rebuild the client around that essence…ignoring all kind of prior implementations. Then I shared the idea with Josh the next day — and he absolutely loved it. He has very similar problems with email and we had shared our woes together about it.

    From there he explained to me that (this) was legitimately something we should act on, that this was much bigger than just changing the way that the two of us use our email, but that this is something that not only do we have the time talents and gifts to make — but something we really should.

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      Mike:  Now there are a lot of productivity apps out there right now where they tell users to “get out of your inbox”, essentially saying that they shouldn’t be managing from within your email. Did you guys decide to go that route because either you tried stuff other task managers and it didn’t work for you and you just kept going back to managing things from email or do you think it’s just that it’s hard to get people to understand that there is an inbox for email and an inbox for all of their stuff?

      Alex: It’s definitely both. You know, one of the biggest time drains for us is translating everything in your inbox into your to-do list and translating them into a calendar…stuff like that. And then trying to put something into your to-do list or put it on to your calendar because you need to follow up with it and then link to that email — it just became a kind of complicated interconnected web of ‘to dos’, events and emails. And it didn’t seem to make much sense.

      So we really thought that if you could clear out your inbox, but those messages could still be marked for review, or marked to pop back up — say, reappear in three days — then that would help you severely decrease the clutter in your inbox and you wouldn’t have to spend the time working with a to-do list or a calendar. And the other thing too is that email is a standard. You can’t really get the entire market out of the inbox. Google proved that in a big way with Wave. I really liked what they did with the project but it was clear you couldn’t get people out of their email.

      Mike: Right. So you’re raising $35,000 through Kickstarter. Where will that money go to? What’s the plan for those funds?

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      Josh: The plan is that once we meet that goal is to bring on some additional developers to help us really get the product to market. And their goal would be to then release a beta version by June. That will first go to all of our Kickstarter backers so they can start using it and we can start getting some feedback on it. So essentially, about three months from the end of our campaign the plan would be to release our beta.

      Most of the money that we would raise would go to additional development support, ramping up  our server space — because a lot of our features are really services that would take up space. It’s not just folders and stuff that goes into your normal inbox. We have our own data that we have to store with Mail Pilot so we do need an amplified storage space. That’s a pretty heavy cost so that’s where another portion of the money would go to. But then after that, hopefully we can get out of the beta, release to public and go from there.

      Mike: I think one of your biggest battles is that there is so many players in this space. What do you think you are going to be able to do to combat that?

      Alex: There are definitely a lot of players in the space, but we definitely think that the workflow that fits right into the core of Mail Pilot is just so deliberate to the way that most (if not many) people who have used their email or try to use their email. And we think that’s it. It works so specifically well for people that it would be a very preferred option.

      The other thing is that right now we are a two man operation and so we wouldn’t need a majority of the market just to be sustainable. And so we have been excited to see what we’ve gotten so far and we are really excited to see if we can gain enough support to stay sustainable and then to really start spreading the concept around to a lot more people. So far people’s reactions have been so overwhelmingly positive towards the idea in favor over so many other ideas just because it’s so deliberate in the way it really works with your workflow.

      (Editor’s Note: Now that the project has been funded, the expectation is that Mail Pilot will hit the market sometime in June of this year.)

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      Mike Vardy

      A productivity specialist who shows you how to define your day, funnel your focus, and make every moment matter.

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      Published on November 19, 2020

      15 Great Macbook Accessories To Improve Productivity

      15 Great Macbook Accessories To Improve Productivity

      When looking to improve your workflow, you need to have a proper computer. And one of the most appealing computers out there is macbooks. These sleek transportable computers allow you to work anywhere at any time and provide a lot of functionality to their users.

      But sometimes, that’s not enough. In so many cases, you’re looking for more.

      While you could go for some productivity apps, there are actually a lot of macbook accessories available that will make your life easier in many ways. These extra accessories will allow your macbook to charge faster, hold more data, or keep it safe and protected while you travel around.

      Beyond that, there is a wide variety of accessories to pick from as many companies have jumped onto the bandwagon of supply to macbook users. Below we’ve listed off some of the greatest macbook accessories that’ll benefit your computer.

      What Makes For Great Macbook Accessories?

      Before getting into the list, we wanted to go over the criteria for what makes for great macbook accessories. The items that we’ve picked from this list will have the following criteria:

      • Reasonably priced – Accessories themselves shouldn’t break the bank compared to the large initial investment of a macbook.
      • Usability – All these accessories are practical in various situations, however, they also have extra features that make them useful in a few situations beyond their obvious functions.
      • Compact – Workflow is also about space in most circumstances. As such, anything that’s too bulky doesn’t help much. These accessories are either large on purpose – for storage of other items – or are nice and compact so they won’t get in the way.

      A USB Drive To Store Files Quickly Without Accessing The Cloud

        While you can always access the Cloud at any time, sometimes accessibility can be cumbersome or it takes time. Instead of trying to access files that way, getting a USB flash drive can save you plenty of time. Especially if your work entails providing presentations.

        The SanDisk Ultra Dual Drive is great as it offers USB-C and USB-A connectors allowing you to plug into virtually any device and transfer files and more between computers. Also, USB drives boast several hundred gigabytes these days making them solid storage devices.

        Buy SanDisk Ultra Dual Drive here.

        Compact Charger That Does More Than Charge

          Your default charger that comes with your MacBook is a good option for a charger, but these days chargers can offer so much more. This can help you speed up your workflow as you can be charging other devices or using the charger for other uses beyond charging.

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          In the case of the Anker PowerPort charger, it is more compact than the default charger. It also offers another USB-C connector allowing you to rapidly charge another gadget with it.

          Buy Anker PowerPort charger here.

          Port Adapter For Those With Multiple Devices

            One of the hard restrictions with a macbook is that it only has two USB-C ports. This is manageable for people with fewer gadgets but if you’re the kind who has several, it can interrupt your workflow if you need a particular device and you can’t charge it or access it.

            In this situation, a port adapter from Satechi can help. It offers multiple USB-C ports allowing you to use multiple devices. This can also help in organizing cords which we know can disrupt work. If the USB-C ports aren’t enough, it also comes with an SD card reader and ethernet cable port too.

            Buy Satechi Multi-Port Adapter here.

            A USB Cable That Isn’t As Intrusive Or Cumbersome To Use

            The USB-C cable that comes with Macbooks is small and is used to hook to an external monitor. By adding more length to them, you can have better cable management. One option that we found to be ideal was the Nomad Kevlar cable which offers enough length to do what you want while giving you more space to work with.

            Buy Nomad Kevlar USB-C Cable here.

            Screen Cleaning Your Laptop To See What You’re Doing

            Dust, particles and splotches are to be expected on laptop screens after a while. While you can work around these, sometimes they can obscure your vision at times. The same can apply to all devices these days.

            The only problem with many solutions on the market is that they can damage screens. Fortunately, we found a screen cleaning solution that doesn’t harm screens. ScreenDr Professional screen cleaning kit comes with a spray that’s safe for screens and an antimicrobial microfiber cloth to ensure you make the most of the spray.

            Buy ScreenDr Professional Screen Cleaning Kit here.

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            Card Reader That Speeds Up Photo Transfer Time

              If you’re looking for a standalone card reader for your work, getting a device designed for photo transferring and reading is essential. One of the best macbook accessories in this category we found was the Vanja card reader.

              This one is able to read SD and MicroSD cards while also transferring the pictures to a computer with ease thanks to its USB-C and USB 2.0 port options. It’s also small making it easy to carry around and is cheap to buy making it a great choice to pick up if you deal with plenty of pictures.

              Buy Vanja Card Reader here.

              Protective Sleeves To Protect Your Laptop From Harm

              For those who are travelling the last thing that you want is your laptop to get damaged for whatever reason. Even though you’re not likely to drop it as frequently as your phone, having a sleeve for a laptop to be in can save you time.

              One sleeve that we found interesting was the Native Union sleeves. They are made of tear-resistant material with genuine leather accents. Its interior is soft as well preventing scratches from your laptop. It also offers a pocket area where you can store cables and other macbook accessories easily.

              Buy Native Union’s laptop sleeve here.

              Car Charger For Charging On The Go

                For the person always driving around, a car charger is always a helpful tool to have when you’re on the go. The one from Anker is particularly helpful in a number of ways. Not only can this charge your macbook, but it also has an additional port for you to charge your phone if needed.

                It’s not the fastest charger out there when compared to the Macbook Pro adapter but it’s the highest in the market with an output power of 30 watts. For comparison, the second-fastest charging connector offers an output of 18 watts. Aside from that the charger has an illuminated LED ring for you to see it and the connectors late at night. It also has a function that ensures devices don’t experience surges or overheating from the charger itself.

                Buy Anker PowerDrive car charger here.

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                USB-C to USB-A Adapter Grants Access To Older Models

                If your older macbook still works but has files you want that you didn’t back up that you want this makes it easier to access them. It also allows you to access devices that have USB-A slots only. This can save you a lot of time if you are moving between older and newer devices.

                Buy Thunderbolt Adapter here.

                A Hardshell Case For Added Protection

                A sleeve is good for travel, but when you’re using it, having an extra layer of protection can be nice. Beyond that this hardshell case can also serve as additional protection from scratches and bumps too.

                Buy Incase Textured Hardshell case here.

                Alternative Sleeve For Those With Tighter Budgets But Want Protection

                  If you are looking for an appropriate laptop sleeve but aren’t looking to spend too much, AmazonBasics brands are a good alternative. Their sleeves are elegant and still offer good protection from scratches as well. It also has a few pockets for small essentials too.

                  Buy AmazonBasics laptop sleeve here.

                  A Hub That Accommodates Several Ports At Once

                  We’ve already mentioned a port before being a huge time saver thanks to it having various ports for different devices. This one is a great alternative as while it doesn’t offer as many USB-C ports, it offers more variety. Paired up with the design being the same color as the MacBook Air, it offers two USB-C connectors, two USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI port and SD and microSD card readers.

                  Buy Satechi Type C Pro Hub here.

                  Earbuds To Deal With Fewer Headphone Cords

                    Cords are a common problem when boosting productivity at the desk and one way to mitigate them is to go wireless. If you are thinking about that, one option to consider is the Soundcore earbuds. These are cheaper than the traditional AirPods from Apple which can save you money.

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                    Furthermore, they deliver great sound and are connected via Bluetooth. The beauty of these earbuds is they can also cancel sound despite them being so compact. They also offer touch control allowing you to pause, play, skip music and answer calls.

                    Buy Soundcore Wireless Earphones here.

                    Desktop Stand To Save Desk Space

                      Desk space is another crucial part of productivity as things can get in the way and obstruct your work. In cases where you don’t need your laptop at the moment, having a stand where you can set it aside can be helpful.

                      In those situations, we recommend the Twelve South Book Arc. This neat Macbook accessor can save a tonne of space since it requires you to close your laptop in order to insert it into the stand. It also keeps it elevated from the surface which can protect it from spills

                      Buy Twelve South BookArc desktop stand here.

                      A Comfortable And Easy To Use Mouse For Faster Working Speed

                      The last of the macbook accessories we’ll talk about is a proper mouse. Logitech offers fantastic mouses and their Logitech MX Master 3 is one of the greatest wireless mouses out there. It’s ergonomic design, customizable buttons and insanely precise movement is fantastic. It also comes with a scrolling wheel for precise scrolling.

                      The battery power can last for months between charges and like all Logitech devices, it comes with a USB-C connector for charging.

                      Buy Logitech MX Master 3 Wireless Mouse here.

                      Bottom Line

                      There are many macbook accessories out there to improve your workflow. Taking the time to do research and invest in some of the best ones though will save you plenty of time, money and energy in the long term. At the same time, all of these accessories can help you with specific needs for whatever you are doing.

                      Featured photo credit: Viktor Ritsvall via unsplash.com

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