How a VP of Marketing Got Out From Under the Crush of Email

(Or How I Improved My Productivity and Got My Breakfast Back)

Escape Email Overload

When I joined Redbooth as VP of Marketing, I had a lot to do my first week: Get up to speed on all of our initiatives, jump into meetings, start planning for the months ahead. But one of the most important things on my list was getting accustomed to using Redbooth itself.

Like many people, I came from a business setting where email was the main way we communicated about work. So the biggest change I noticed immediately was the reduced volume in my email inbox.

I literally went from waking up in the morning and seeing 100 emails before (and during) breakfast to just seeing a handful. And that’s because everyone at Redbooth uses Redbooth.

Life before Redbooth

Before, every day felt like some sort of fire drill. Checking my email in the morning got the day off to a less-than-happy start. You got to try to enjoy your breakfast while thinking about all of the emails waiting for you.

On top of that, every email has the same weight in an inbox. So getting to urgent activities required a certain amount of time just going through everything that’s there — some of which is detritus and some of which is important — and that was time taken away from my workday (or my morning cereal).

Company-wide conversations would go on and on over email. Even if they didn’t relate to you, they were still in your inbox. In Redbooth, company-wide conversations become all-company notifications instead. If it starts going into discussions and replies and you’ve already grasped the meaning, you can “unfollow” it with a single click.

From the inbox to the dashboard

In my past life, the entire company revolved around the inbox — and not just before breakfast. Everything was emailed, everything was an attachment, and all of the important discussion threads of the business happened in email.

This approach attuned everyone to watching their inbox, because that’s where you got work done. I was so used to this that it took a couple of days at Redbooth to get used to not relying on my inbox to get work done.

Now, my Redbooth dashboard displays things that I’m interested in because I subscribed to them or they relate to me — and it filters out the other noise. This lets me spend more time working on important activities and less time wading through email.

The way that the Redbooth dashboard is architected, I see a logical categorization of my work life because of the way collaboration projects and tasks are organized. I can review notifications to everyone as well as updates to a specific project I might care more about.

Getting up to speed faster and more efficiently

But I quickly saw that Redbooth wasn’t just about staying up-to-date. It was also a remarkable resource for reviewing past exchanges and company history. On email, that domain knowledge of the business can get lost when the email thread disappears — it’s not something you can easily port over to a new employe to help them ramp up.

So for me, the “Aha” moment happened as I was settling in and saw that all of that tribal knowledge already existed in Redbooth: every discussion thread, every document had context to go along with it — not just the “what,” but also the “why?”

It was easy to figure out what was going on, because all of the discussion threads, decisions, intermediate tasks and other contextual information that accompanied that activity was available to me in Redbooth.

In my past life, the experience would have been more like, “Go into the company shared drive (or cloud storage device) and review the files there” — but in Redbooth, I was able to see all of the dialogue that went into each outcome. So it was a much richer and more efficient onboarding experience.

Making the switch from email

Although I was delighted not to be facing down a hundred emails in the morning, it was definitely a challenge to give up email at first.

For example, I’d submitted a bio and a photo for a company-wide notice of me joining the company, and my first instinct was to go look for the announcement in my inbox. Then I had to remind myself there wasn’t much of anything in my inbox. It was all in Redbooth, including the announcement.

It was great to open the welcome thread. There were animated GIFs, there were lots of nice messages, there were links to people’s profiles. It was a lot richer than if you had gotten a bunch of email responses — which, by the way, are lost once you delete them.

Redbooth is an environment where people can collaborate and get work done in a much more contextual way than they can in an email.

Navigating from the dashboard

I’ve got to be honest: The first time I logged into Redbooth as an employee, it was a little bit overwhelming. I was suddenly a member of many different projects, including some that had already been assigned to me with deadlines that had already passed!

But as I grew accustomed to it over the next few days, I quickly saw that the dashboard is a great way to consolidate a lot of noise into something that’s really actionable.

I was also pleased to see that it was also already integrated into all of the different document repositories that people in the company use. The culture at Redbooth is nimble and flexible, and gives people room to use a variety of file storage options.

People have Google Drive and Box and Dropbox, so there are lots of different potential stores of corporate information — but with Redbooth, it was all consolidated in one interface. I didn’t have to worry about tracking down where different documents were stored. And I was free to choose which storage option worked best for me, because Redbooth plays nicely with all of them.

Global collaboration

As a company, we’re a distributed team and have team members in Europe as well as North America, so chat and video are important to us. My team, for example, has multiple members all over the world, and we use video pretty extensively.

I used the built-in HD Meetings feature in Redbooth many times in my first week. It’s completely browser-based, works with any standard off-the-shelf consumer-grade equipment (Redbooth embraces BYOD), and it’s very easy to launch a meeting, share your screen, and pull in additional users — that’s really powerful. And it’s made it very easy for me to be able to collaborate with a team that’s truly global. There’s really low friction to being able to collaborate in real time even though we’re separated by time zones.

I’ve been seeing how our outside partners — vendors, consultants who work with us — love Redbooth and use it as well. So in terms of extended teams, it has been a very dynamic environment. That has been really encouraging in terms of making it easy to work with outside parties — with Redbooth it’s like they’re another member of the internal team which makes working and communicating with them seamless.

Final thoughts (so far)

In my first week, I had the luxury of spending time to really go through all of the internal collaboration content there for the Redbooth organization, as well as fully exploring Redbooth’s features — including the very intuitive help modules a few times.

Moving my mindset from “First thing, I’ll check my email” to “First thing, I’ll check my Redbooth dashboard” was a revelation. There was more information in my dashboard, but it was also more actionable information — and each day, I’ve seen how it’s the information I need to get work done and be more productive.

I’m sure there are additional capabilities in our collaboration software that I haven’t fully discovered yet (I hear rumors of an emoji library in chat). I’m looking forward to discovering them as well. But for now, I’m just delighted to have my breakfast back.
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