Everyday I try and work my email inboxes down to zero and over time I have developed a number of Applescripts to help me automate and speed up some bits of the workflow on my Mac. These were never wholly successful as each new OSX release seemed to break another bit of applescript or invoke tougher sandboxing rules.
A few months ago I took another look at my workflow using Keyboard Maestro and have developed a very reliable and speedy method which I thought was worth sharing.
I have ten or so Evernote notebooks which I use as the key repositories for emails that I want to keep and I use Evernote reminders as the ToDo system for something that I need to return to or prompt myself about in the future.
Using the system in Evernote that allows you to forward an email to a unique user address with additions to the subject line that tell Evernote; which notebook, which tags and which/if any reminders you need, I have created automation that populates this data, sends the email off to Evernote, deletes the email from my inbox and moves focus to the next mail - all at the press of one key.
So in practice, the workflow looks like this.
First email in the inbox is an Amazon Receipt.
I Press CTRL 'R" - this fires a Keyboard Maestro Macro that sends the email off to Evernote with @RECEIPTS added to the subject line and deletes it from my inbox.
Focus moves to second email which is from a company that I work for, ACME, that needs attention in 2 weeks time.
I press CTRL 'Z' that fires a KM Macro that brings up this dialogue box:
It's already auto populated with today's date so I can just hit enter but in this case, I just change the date from 4th to 18th and hit OK.
When I then hit CTRL 'A' it fires a KM Macro that sends the email off to Evernote with '!2014/07/18' and '@ACME' added to the subject line. This files it in Evernote but sets a reminder for me in a fortnight time.
Each of the KM Macros for filing that I have set up; CTRL 'A' to file to notebook ACME, CTRL 'R' to file to notebook 'RECEIPTS', CTRL 'M' to file to notebook 'MISC' etc. etc. checks first to see if a reminder has been preset with CTRL 'Z', if it has, it files it and sets a reminder, if not, it just files it.
This way I can speed through my inbox dealing with most emails with one of two key presses.
Either the delete key for something I don't need to keep, a CTRL 'A/B/C' key to put it straight into an Evernote Notebook or CTRL 'Z' to set a reminder date, followed instantly by CTRL 'A/B/C' key to put it straight into an Evernote Notebook. Boom - super fast triaging of mail.
After using this system for a while I realised that the most frequent reminder I set was for a week hence - normally because I'm looking at an email where somebody is saying that they will do something and I'm thinking, 'I ought to check that in a week' to ensure it's happened. So, I set up a third Macro, CTRL SHIFT 'Z' , that automatically sets the reminder preset for one week hence without a dialogue box.
This workflow has really accelerated my email time. I has stopped me pontificating about whether to keep something or not, if I'm unsure I just hit the hot key CTRL 'M' and file in 'MISC' - it will be there if I need it but's gone from my inbox. It's also emptied my inbox of emails that I might need to return to in a week or so. These are now set up as reminders for the future removing them as daily baggage.
The three Macro's are described here in the Nerdery: