If you love Gmail and you happen to be a disciple of the Getting Things Done philosophy, reader Chris Zimmerman details how he employs a couple of Gmail Labs features to transform Gmail into an impressive GTD inbox.
Using Superstars & Multiple Inboxes:
- Enable both “multiple inboxes” and “Superstars” in Google Labs
- Then in general settings, set your stars up like this:
These are used to represent, in order from left to right:
- Red Bang – Needs Immediate Action/Scheduling, search query: has:red-bang (or l:^ss_cr)
- Yellow Bang – Needs Action/Non-Immediate, search query: has:yellow-bang (or l:^ss_cy)
- Red Star – Scheduled on Calendar, search query: has:red-star (or l:^ss_sr)
- Orange Arrows – Delegated, search query: has:orange-guillemet (or l:^ss_co)
- Purple Question – Needs Further Follow-Up or Research, search query: has:purple-question (or l:^ss_cp)
- Purple Star – Some Day/Long Term, search query: has:purple-star (or l:^ss_sp)
- Green Check – Completed, search query: has:green-check (or l:^ss_cg)
- Green Star – Archive, search query: has:green-star (or l:^ss_sg)
- Blue Info – Archive as General Reference Item, search query: has:blue-info (or l:^ss_cb)
- Then I set the settings of my multiple mailboxes up like this:
- The idea is, nothing should sit with a “red bang” for very long. For me at least, if it isn’t scheduled, it probably won’t happen, so I want stuff on the calendar as soon as possible.
- Once your Inbox is set up it looks great and automatically sorts things into the proper piles like so:
- I then also use labels to define Contexts, Projects, and Resources – Prefixed with a C/ or a P/ or R/ respectively:
- P/Company Site
- P/Source New Building
- P/Board Outing
- P/Spring Vacation
- R/Jones, Steve, Attorney
- R/Zoning Board
- R/Thomas, Joe
- Toggling the stars quickly puts things in the right action pile for fast processing. Tagging them with context and project labels, I know what I could be working on and how to move projects ahead.
- I also save common searches in my toolbar using this Gmail bookmarklet generator. Using the same search queries from above, you generate bookmarklets you can drag right to the toolbar. As an example, say I want to quickly see all mail that’s been delegated (the orange arrows); I go to the site, and enter l:^ss_co as my query, like so:
“Title” is the word that will appear in the button, so I keep it simple and stick to what I am looking for.
After I hit “generate”, here’s what I got:
Then I just dragged it to my toolbar.
I took it a step further, and put my common searches in and created a folder for all of them, like so:
Clicking on any of the bookmarklets takes me directly to whichever search I need.
Thanks for the great writeup, Chris! Got a similar implementation of your own? Let’s hear it in the comments.