My latest declared project is to get out of email. This is a difficult problem for me and I've only made a bit of progress to date. The base observation that I get lost once I get into email is still the starting insight I have to work from. No solid working habits have formed but I am finding a few hints as I write this which you will see below.
The approach is simply to decouple the message from the email client. I like this approach as it then merges into my better developed filing and to be improved execution machinery. This bit of synergy with the filing system is nice and I thought I was set to make rapid progress.
The lead approach I took was simple. Drag the email to either my filing Inbox or, preferably, the project folder in my Nowbox. My filing approach is described here. When I go back to the email to work on the project, the email opens up without the full thread with the email client behind the message. This, usually, keeps me focused on the message at hand and out the email client search box. It works pretty well yet with a couple of hitches.
First, dragging to the Nowbox project folder is still enough "friction" that I often just incorrectly defer moving the email to the project folder and dump the message in my filing Inbox. So I end up processing the file two times. I don't think I realized what I was doing until I just typed this! My thoughts in dumping this into the filing Inbox were based on processing email and not overall system efficiency.
Second, I couldn't open the email on my iPad to work or process my Inbox. While the iPad is not as efficient as the laptop to process email, I do try to do a bit of mindless filing when waiting for a conference call to get up and running. I have this solved and I will talk about this below.
Due to the iPad hitch, I briefly tried printing the emails to PDF using David Sparks' command-P trick. I initially liked this approach as it takes me completely out the email client. Bit after a short time, this is all I like about this approach. The show-stopping issue is you can't reply to a PDF.
The last bit that recently clicked for me was finding Klammer on the App Store. I am looking at emails saved from MacMail and I've had no issues. The comments on The app do show a few hard feelings on the pricing of the app so decide for yourself if it might work for you.