Stop Using Email As A To-Do List

There is no doubt that e-mail is one of the most important business tools. But don't use email as a to-do list for your important tasks. Here's why.
email as a to-do list

There is no doubt that email is one of the most important business tools. It helps us get in touch, share information and perform various tasks. However, as its usage expands, some teams have started using it as a task management system. While it may seem like a good idea at first, this only causes more confusion and delays later on.

Curious to find out why email should not be treated as a to-do list? Keep reading.

The Appeal

It is really not hard to understand why some teams turn to email for task management. Most of the communication is done here and as such, it is in the inbox where all of the information and project tasks lie. It is easy to start treating your mailbox as a personal to-do list and marking emails as tasks.

This works well if the flow of emails is not large and if you can complete the tasks in a day or two. Also, you have all of the related information right there and don’t need to search for it in any other tools. Sounds nice, right? But these are two very big ‘ifs’ you have to deal with.

The Reality

When you start turning the personal inbox into the to-do list, however, the reality sets in. With the constant flow of emails, it becomes hard to track all of the things that have to be done, there is no way to set clear priorities and with new replies coming in. You have to review and update the to-do list constantly.

Even worse, if you are working with a team, there is no way to quickly check on what the other team members are doing. If you want to get an update, you need to reach out individually or call a meeting that takes valuable time out of everyone’s day.

Thus, managing tasks in an email end up costing you time and effort that could be spent elsewhere.

Email vs Project Management Tool

Instead of trying to turn your email inbox into a task management system, think about getting an actual project management tool. This is especially true for those working in teams and having to collaborate on tasks and projects, as it will allow you to take better control of the processes while saving time and energy in management efforts.

Picking a project management solution will allow you to do the following and avoid using email as a to-do list.

See the full scope of work

By choosing a project management tool, you will be able to see the whole project process and tasks in one place. You can visualize the project steps, track new, in-progress, and completed items, and quickly evaluate the status.

Compared to email this gives you a whole new view into your project and information that could be used to improve the efforts.

Reduce status report meetings

Another big benefit of choosing a project management tool vs email as a to-do list is the ability to reduce the need for meetings and status updates. In such cases, all of the information is visible on the project task board and you can check the team’s progress at any time.

If you need to brainstorm ideas or to ask a question, leave a comment in task details and have your team participate at the time most convenient for them. This respects everyone’s personal schedules and still adds the collaboration element needed.

Enjoy additional project management features

Lastly, by choosing a project management tool, you will be able to enjoy additional project management features that are simply not present in email: Gantt chart to plan out work, workload management to make sure no one is overworked, automated reports on progress, and time tracking for accurate client billing.

All of this will allow you to improve the project management efforts and reach better results with fewer efforts.


Without a doubt, email is one of the most widely used business tools out there. However, when we talk about task management and creating effective project management efforts, it really lacks. So instead of trying to fit a square into a circle, opt for a tool that what built for managing tasks.

This way, you will save your nerves and will be able to concentrate on something far more valuable – your project and the creation of value.

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