How Backpack Made Me Like Gmail More, by Nate Burgos

I guess we’re on a little bit of a 37signals kick over here at the Geek Girls Guide. Last week, our pal Julie outlined how she and her husband use Basecamp to manage their home remodeling. This week, our newfound friend Nate Burgos of Design Feast shares how 37Signals’ Backpack has helped him keep his inbox cleaner by streamlining his writing and editing process. This article is a great example of how one technology tool (Backpack) can help simplify another (email). I don’t think Nate is alone in wanting to keep the amount of “noise” in his inbox down.

We’ll be posting some more articles around here soon about how to keep your Inbox(es) under control. Let us know if Nate’s post gives you any bright ideas!

Since starting my blog last year, I had been using Gmail to send files to my editor Silvia. The system was simple: State the blog posting number in the email’s subject header, insert pleasant greeting and notification, and attach Word document. Writing is naturally iterative. There were a number of times that I would email another, and sometimes still another, revised version of the same posting. In these instances, the subject header would read USE THIS.

At times I needed to make sure that the latest version was indeed the latest, so I used Gmail’s fast search to track it. This way of sharing and commenting on versions was my workflow for making content to post. But repeating this workflow, with each compounded and buried email in my Sent folder, proved that the system wasn’t the right solution.

Last January, my writing-and-approval system was not only refreshed but also reengineered when I began using Backpack, 37signal’s tool for sharing and organizing information. I thought my immediate choice would be Basecamp, but decided that Backpack was appropriate for my purpose. Backpack allows you to create a Page, however many needed, dedicated to a topic. Each Page serves as a central place to store the stuff pertaining to the topic of that Page, like this for a past topic for a blog entry: