Most delegation – formal or informal – happens by email today. Whether you ask your spouse if she likes the garden furniture you found online or ask one of your employees to fill an Excel sheet, chances you send a link, attachment or just the request by email are high.
As a diligent GTDer you do not want to remember that your spouse owes you an opinion and your employee an Excel sheet: You want to track this “Waiting For” in your trusted system OmniFocus and not in your head.
Already a couple of years ago I had the honour to address this problem by kicking off some scripting work involving MailTags and Mail-Act-On outbox rules in Mail.app to automatically capture emails tagged as “waiting for” when they leave the outbox and add them to OmniFocus. The great nerd community behind OmniFocus has ever since taken the script to develop it further and to make it more robust.
The problem with the above solution is that you need to have MailTags & Mail-Act-On – which are both great, but also pricey – and you need to remember to tag your delegating email before your send it. I tend to always forget to tag an email and regret it seconds after I pressed ‘Send’.
“Oh man, that last email! I should really track that in OmniFocus!”
If you have time and you want to make the effort, you can certainly go into Maill.app’s Sent mailbox and use the OmniFocus clipping service to add the message to your OmniFocus Inbox. Since I have the Mailbox panel hidden by default (⌘⇧M) and hate navigating around with the mouse too much, I rarely do that. What I do instead more and more is look at my ‘Sent’ mailbox at the end of a day and clip those emails into OmniFocus that I have sent during the day and that I want to track in my ‘Waiting For’ context.
But what I realised over time is that it would be rather beneficial to have the ability to add the last email sent to OmniFocus in a similar way as the MailTags-based solution mentioned earlier. So I cooked up a simple AppleScript to do just that.
The script is rather barebones and I am sure some smart people will take it away and make it much better, robust and sophisticated. Until that day the script works as follows:
- It looks in one specific Sent mailbox (when I tried having it look at the virtual Sent mailbox that spans all your accounts in Mail.app the results became very inconsistent)
- It then takes the last message it finds
- Adds it either directly to your OmniFocus Inbox or pre-populates and opens OmniFocus’ Quick Entry window
- When adding it straight to the OmniFocus Inbox you can have Growl providing a notification as feedback
- You can configure a prefix to the task created as well as a mid-fix that goes between recipient name and subject of the original email, e.g. ‘Waiting for [recipient] to comeback re [subject]‘
- The script also defects if you send the email to one or more recipients (only the ‘To’ field matters). If you sent it to more than one it will take the name of the first one and add ‘and x more’ to the task description
That is pretty much it. Download the script, save it somewhere on your disk and invoke it by adding it to the OmniFocus toolbar, via the Mac OS X AppleScript menu (activate it in the preferences of the AppleScript Editor) or by using handy tools like FastScripts, Alfred, Launchbar or Keyboard Maestro.