Is Email good enough as a collaboration tool?

email iconAt Macworld, when introducing the new Mac OS X Leopard to Apple developers, maverick CEO Steve Jobs talked at length about how the Mail.app was getting a big overhaul.

I send a lot of notes to myself because my inbox is really where I need to be reminded of things. There’s gotta be a better way to do this that doesn’t get lost among the others. They show up right in your inbox but there’s also a special inbox that coagulates them all together. A lot of times we want to keep a To Do list, you can select a note and say make it a To Do and they show up like this. But it’s even more powerful than this. I can take any email, any document and say make it a to do. But it’s not just Mail. Any application can tie into it and contribute To Do’s and view To Do’s. [via]

Apple’s decision to focus on the Mail InBox is actually pretty astute. I spend almost all my time in the email application, and have put together a rather but working hack using smart mailboxes, rules and other helpful tools to make sense of the daily torrent of over 500 email messages. The good (or bad) news is that many of us actually do use our “inbox” as our communication dashboard. Anne Zelenka points out that there are many reasons why email, despite its short comings has become a collaboration tool for many of us.

But there’s got to be a reason it’s held ground against allegedly more advanced tools, tools like bulletin boards and groupware in the nineties, blogs and wikis and enterprise document management now….Email suits the individual better than any collaboration software, because individuals have control over their inboxes, their archives, and who gets mail from them. In many cases, individuals can choose what software they use to access their mail and they can customize the email client with filters and rules.

There are some tips and tricks to making your email life better, writes Glenn Wolsey. I am taking this one to the heart.

Keep your inbox clear, do not be tempted to use it as a storage box. Each evening before you log off the computer make sure there is nothing left in your inbox. Go through each and every email and file it. Place it in its respective folder, or if it requires actioning put it in your Follow-Up, Interesting or To Do folders.

How do you collaborate using your email inbox?

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