Handle, a new startup founded by Menlo Ventures‘ Managing Director Shawn Carolan, is now in private beta. The service calls itself the “world’s first priority engine” where it aims to identify and help users manage their priorities for the day.

Special invite codes for those readers interested in the service are at the bottom of this article.

Available as a layer that lives on top of your email inbox, similar to how AOL’s Alto service operates, Handle is a blend of task management and Gmail’s Priority Inbox all in one. The emergence of this startup is not that surprising though — after all, there have been many people who have tried to solve the email crisis that plagues mankind. Each day we’re flooded with email and trying to get to that mythical “Inbox Zero” can be trying and causes us to lose productivity.

The company says that its algorithms doesn’t depend on artificial intelligence. In fact, Carolan says that AI doesn’t “cut it for us”. The focal point is that a user’s brain is the critical decision-maker. The individual is the one who can look through their inbox and determine what is specifically urgent and what isn’t.

Handle currently integrates only with Gmail’s mail server, although it is planning on adding support for Microsoft Exchange and Yahoo in the future.

Inbox Action View FINAL 730x427 Handle opens the private beta for its hybrid email, to do list and calendar service [Invites]

When set up, users can prioritize what they need to do based on three distinct options: things that you “must do”, those that you “should to”, and that which you “want to do”. Using either a Web browser application or the iOS version, users can take their email and tag it according to specific issues to address. For example, I might take emails relating to email pitches I receive and tag them by specific urgency or themes. Once I’ve done this, they will all be grouped together and then I can lump it into a specific category.

The service also leverages keyboard shortcuts in an attempt to help speed up the process.

Snap 2013 04 29 at 10.45.17 Handle opens the private beta for its hybrid email, to do list and calendar service [Invites]

Handle comes with a calendaring system, that hasn’t quite been tied-in with Google Calendar, but the idea is that users can assign specific timeslots in their day to accomplish the specific tasks.

Carolan says that the development of this startup was five years in the making — there wasn’t anything that really addressed the needs of helping to prioritize the inbox. He says that existing companies were simply “reinventing a broken wheel” and weren’t transforming the way this feature needed to be.

Right now, the service is free, but in the future, a fee will be implemented in order for users to access premium features.

To get started with Handle, users will need to sign up and be subject to the dreaded wait list. However, those who download the iOS app will jump to the front of the line starting today. In addition, the company has provided TNW readers with invite codes to check out the service, available to the first 250 people: TheNextWeb

Photo credit: Thinkstock