Manage your freelancer workflow with ActiveInbox
As a freelancer you have the luxury of getting to choose you own tools.
But you definitely don't want to manage lots of different ones - as you're just one person and simplicity really matters.
And your clients also get to choose their own task managers - there's no standarization in your world - so everyone
resorts to email (whether you want them to or not!).
Thus making Gmail your main task manager, and working where tasks naturally arise and progress, makes perfect sense.
ActiveInbox can help!
Turn client emails into tasks
Click the Action button and ActiveInbox will treat the email as a task, and track it until you've finished it.
(Behind the scenes, it does this by adding the !Action label to the email - this means all your tasks are stored in Gmail).
You can see your task list by clicking the Action view on the Review Bar (or the left-hand sidebar - click the bottom-left cube to see it).
You can also safely archive the email/task out of your inbox, so you can achieve Inbox Zero (and thus be sure you've not missed anything),
and then just work through your task list.
You'll soon realise a frustration - it's hard to know what a task is about because you can't change the email's subject.
That's ok! Just add your To Do's for each email, and when you view your task list, ActiveInbox will prominently show
you the next To Do for each task.
You can also prioritize your tasks, simply by going into your task list and dragging the most urgent emails to the top of the list, allowing
you to confidently work from top to bottom.
When the task is complete, remove all statuses and due dates, and ActiveInbox will consider it finished
(you can also click the grey tick/check box to finish a task).
Set due dates to satisfy clients
Just click the calendar dropdown and select a due date for the email.
ActiveInbox will then show it in your Today list when it's due (the Today list is available from the Review Bar, our sidebar, and as a section in your Inbox).
(If you want the due date to have a specific time, the short answer is that we tried it as a feature but decided it wasn't right.
It's much simpler and more effective to have a simple Today list than you can drag-drop order by priority; and if something has a time associated with it,
accept it's an event and put it in GCal. There's more about deadline times in the FAQ).
Be able to focus on each client with a single click
It's often a good idea to create a context for each customer. This means you can click a link for that customer in our Review Bar, and instantly see
all tasks and reference emails. And it also enables you to group your Today view into sections for each customer.
To create the contexts, go into our Preferences, select 'Configure Label Types', and 'Add Label Type'. The name will be Contexts and the label prefix is C/.
You'll then create a label for each customer, beginning with C/ (e.g. C/CompanyX), and ActiveInbox will automatically detect them.
Next you'd create a filter for each email address. For example, if we were your customer, you'd filter all @activeinboxhq.com emails to have the label C/ActiveInbox.
Now you can select ActiveInbox from the Contexts menu on the Review Bar, and in the Today view (or Waiting On view, or any task list), you can group the
results by Context.
Create projects for each client
To create a project, just click the 'Project' dropdown above the email, and enter a project name.
(You can create sub projects, just by putting a forward slash in the project name - e.g. Project/Sub Project).
The project is then available from your Projects list in the top Review Bar (or our sidebar -- click the cube in the bottom left).
If you're currently focused on one project, you can pin it to the main part of the Review Bar by clicking the down arrow to the right of the project in the menu.
You can also group your Today list (or Action list, or Waiting On list, etc.) by project. Just go into the Today view, click the 3-line menu icon, and select
Group By Project.
If you use a context for each customer like we show above, you see all projects for that customer.
Just go into the customer's context (from the menu), and in the 'Tasks' section, click the 3-line menu icon, and
select Group By Project.
Make sure you get replies from prospects & clients
When you compose an email, or a reply, either mark the conversation as Waiting On
if it isn't time sensitive; or if it is, give it a due date instead.
Then it'll either appear on your Today list (and you can check it), or it'll be on your Waiting On list (available from the top Review Bar, or our sidebar if you click the bottom-left cube).
It's a good idea to add a To Do to remind you what to do when they reply (or otherwise after a few days you may have forgotten, and will waste time trying to remember).
Never forget who someone is, and be reminded of outstanding tasks everytime you reply to a client
Whenever you compose a new email, or begin a reply, ActiveInbox will show you the number of previous conversations you've had with them, and the number of outstanding tasks (in a speech bubble, and blue container, respectively).
If you click these numbers, a popup will appear to let you browse these conversations/tasks.
It's the final safety net for keeping clients happy.
Schedule meetings from conversations
If a conversation contains details of an event, you can create a GCal event, and then use the Notes box to link the conversation to the event. (So that next time you open the email, you know there's a corresponding event).
We also have a simple feature to help with this - called Export to GCal. You can enable this in Preferences. (Disclaimer: the feature isn't perfect yet, hence not being rolled out for everyone, but we will improve it as soon as we can).
Delegating with your (virtual) Personal Assistant
Do you have a personal assistant? Check out sharing Gmail with your personal assistant.