An Ante Chamber for Text

Creating a new message is a wildly different task than reading a message. But every email client is supposed to be a tool for reading emails as well as composing and replying. This arrangement forces people to see their unread emails whenever they intend to write one.

Email clients are problematic

This is bad. It tempts people to get sidetracked into making rash, responsive decisions about new messages. In turn this dissuades the positive habit of from setting aside the time to process an email inbox properly. It certainly doesn't help that inboxes can often be sprawling morasses of unactioned messages which require constant firefighting, and aren't very pleasant to work with.

Plus, mail clients aren't great writing tools. Asides from the potential for distraction there's always the fear of accidentally hitting the Send button before the message is ready.

Is it actually an email?

Beyond that, what's being written might not actually be an email. It's quite common to begin a message only to realise that it's better off as a text message, a tweet, a task, or even a whole document. In this scenario this text would normally need to be extracted, put in the right place and edited accordingly. This can be a real pain.

Ante Chamber

A tool which might solve this problem would behave like an "ante chamber" for text. It would be a space which accepts text then allows us to decide what to do with it.

Instead of having an idea, and having to decide what to do with it before it even leaves my brain, the scratch pad becomes the first port of call for any text I write on a smartphone or tablet. Once the text is externalised I can read back, and make much better decisions about what to do with it.

It's much more intuitive than having to decide between an intimidating plethora of apps, whilst still trying to keep hold of an idea in memory. This is a much simpler process:

  • Brain: Have an idea
  • Tool: Write it down
  • Brain: Decide what to do with it

Implementation

The best tool for this is Drafts by Agile Tortoise. It's a simple text editor for iPhone and iPad which accepts text, then can send it to any number of other apps and services, including sending it as a new email.

Drafts is an excellent, safe writing environment which doesn't force you to distract yourself by looking at the inbox. In addition, it's a great way to make text-heavy work easier to manage on a mobile device. For more advanced users it also integrates with Markdown and TextExpander making it possible to create sophisticated pieces of writing quickly and efficiently.

So, rather than trying to wrestle with email clients, it's possible to build a better process for handling any kind of text, which more closely matches the way you think.