I was a little late twigging the implications of Gmail’s recently announced IMAP support, but it really is brilliant for GTD-ers.

What is IMAP for Gmail?
In a nutshell, it takes messages you’ve labelled, and allows you to use them in other (email) clients; with labels mapping to folders.

So, P/GTDInbox will map to the folder GTDInbox, which would be a sub folder of P.
And, S/Next Action will map to folder Next Action, which would be a sub folder of S.

Any changes you make, by moving messages between folders, are then perfectly synchronised next time you log into Gmail.

Why is this Great?
First & foremost, it allows you to retrieve/manipulate your tasks using your favourite email client (e.g. Thunderbird); allowing you to take advantage of GTD email features with your regular desktop software.
This is particularly useful when the email client is on a mobile device, like the iPhone, allowing you to access your tasks on the road.

It also allows developers to create specialised (possibly GTD based) software that uses the messages/tasks you have in Gmail as the database. So, in the future you may do 90% of your (email related) task management within Gmail, but use 3rd party tools to either work with it on other devices (e.g. PDA), or to use specialist functionality.

In short, IMAP – while not an instantly beneficial feature – makes GTDInbox & Gmail much more capable as a ‘base’ system that other software can hook into & extend… meaning more efficient/available task management!


This was written by Andy Mitchell