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inboxzeroMy inbox is a horribly inefficient way to manage the requests that come into me.

On any given day, I receive all sorts of different emails — all of which require different forms of action.

Here are some of the types of emails I field daily:

  • Introduction requests
  • Notification emails from my bank
  • Invoices
  • Receipts
  • Facebook notifications for tagged posts or photos
  • Ideas for future product ideas from my team members
  • Travel plans/opportunities from friends
  • Possible times for that conference call next week
  • Notifications of new comments on blog posts
  • Product pitches for stories for Geek Estate Blog
  • Event details
  • Marketing messages
  • Questions from potential clients or blog readers

You get the point.

They all arrive in the same format, with some combination of text, images, styling, and attachments. I’m forced to respond to them in the same text based format, and manually interact with the services related to the needed follow up for a particular email separately.

There has to be a better way, right?

Tell me. Why can’t my inbox be smart enough to handle each of those emails differently and show me different follow up workflow depending on the required course of action?

Upon opening a receipt or an invoice, a Freshbooks module should immediately prompt me to tag it correctly — without visiting Freshbooks.com. A platform like LinkedIn could handle introductions seamlessly (is there something better?) All my work emails should be logged correctly against contacts using Highrise (or any other CRM). I should be able to create and assign tasks (cards) directly in Trello from an email. And all those marketing messages…should just be sucked into a black hole never to be seen again unless I specifically search for something.

What I’m getting at is that my inbox should be a platform. Not a silo of text and attachments and tags.

I suppose the opportunity screams Catch 22. Such an email platform is not interesting without modules for every platform you use. And modules aren’t worth building without a massive user base. The other barrier is complexity. Email is simple and expected. A platform would be more complex and different. The key is making the new inbox so damn simple and intuitive that anyone could figure it out in 10 seconds.

Executing on that? That’s where the rubber meets the road.

It seems Google is the only company in a position to implement such a system given it’s massive user base and developer community. Is anyone working on something along these lines?

Drew Meyers is the co-founder of Oh Hey World. Global nomad originating in Seattle. Ex-Zillow community builder. Social Entrepreneur. Microfinance advocate. Travel addict. Fan of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Kiva. Find him on Twitter @drewmeyers.

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