plum mail

Banishing Mark as Unread

In Plum Mail we made the decision to never allow you to mark an email as unread. This is a bold move so I wanted to share with you how we made this decision and why we think it's important.

Fundamentally, you can't un-read something. Even if you somehow figure out time travel, you just can't un-read something once you've read it. It makes no sense.

But this is about more than just semantics. Unread is just a handy byword for putting an email aside to handle later.

This is where the issues start to creep in. Marking as unread is a broad brush. When you first receive an email, you spend time thinking what to do with it. If you can't do that thing right now, you might 'mark it as unread'. But marking the email as unread undoes the effort you put into deciding what to do with the email in the first place.

We need something smarter.

Types of Communication Tasks

Incoming email can be categorised fairly easily:

Oftentimes, users will mark an email as unread to satisfy any of the first five needs. The last one, an email is not useful, is a simple delete action.

Marking as unread wastes the mental effort you put into categorising the email in the first place so in Plum Mail we are giving you the tools to triage your email in a much more useful way.

The Triage Toolset

1. Mark as 'todo'

Plum Mail is an action-first inbox. That means we show you a distilled communication to do list by default and your inbox feeds into that.

If an email just needs your attention (but not right now) then you can mark it as 'todo'. This simply places the email into your task list for processing at your convenience. This is great for emails that have nothing more than a simple requirement to reply thoughtfully.

2. Add to Reading List

If an email arrives that you just want to read then this is for you. Newsletters, digests, advice, it can all go into the reading list.

3. Questions and tasks

When an email includes a highlighted question or task, we automatically pull those out into your action-first inbox anyway so there is already no need to triage these incoming emails. We make it really obvious this has happened so you can quickly assess and move onto the next email.

If someone has asked you a question or set you a specific task but has not highlighted it then you can highlight it yourself. Plum Mail will then pull these out into your action-first inbox.

4. Create a related task

If you've read an email and it inspires you to take an action, you can create a custom task in your action-first inbox.

An example of this might be an email from a friend about a wedding invitation. This reminds you to dry clean your outfit. Marking the original email as 'todo' doesn't make sense because it's an invitation, however, the task you need to do is related to the wedding invite.

Creating a custom task allows you to type 'Dry clean wedding outfit' and add it to your action-first inbox with a contextual link to the original wedding invitation.

5. Archive

Archiving email happens automatically. If you want to keep a prescious email after you've read it, rest easy because we already archived it.

6. Delete

Archiving email happens automatically. If you want to keep a prescious email after you've read it, rest easy because we already archived it.

With all these options, marking email as unread becomes completely unnecessary. Save the mental overhead when you're triaging incoming email and assign them more useful statuses.

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