With GTDInboxV2, I’ve been focusing a lot more on moving beyond crudely offering GTD labels (as in v1).
I’ve been trying to work out the most elegant solution for turning Gmail into an efficient task manager and knowledge store.
But, it’s becoming apparent to do this I need some more use-cases. I’d love to know how people interact with Gmail (using GTD) right now.
For instance, one of my primary uses for it is GTDInbox development & support.
So, I have P/GTDInbox, P/GTDInboxIdeas, P/GTDInboxSupport, P/GTDInboxBugs.
As emails come in, I label them appropriately with a project and S/Action (actually a filter does this automatically).
A lot of the ideas get marked with S/Someday, unless they are about to be implemented.

At the end of each day, I will pick out a handle of items to label S/Next Action (so I have a plan for tomorrow).

I’ve adopted the habit of using contexts based on the class of activity. So, C/FirefoxDev, C/Freelance (normally combined with a P/<Client>), C/Domestic (house, shopping, chores), C/Leisure.

So far, so easy. I guess where it gets more difficult – and where your opinion is really useful – is when you’re reviewing old items.

Common reviews,
* Next actions (which I generally use as “today’s actions”) that I must do; in the given context
* If I’m nearing a deadline a particular project, I’ll find all actions for that, make some Next Actions, and then process Next Actions for that Project
* Things that have lost momentum. If Projects are still active, but have had no activity in a while, then they should be investigated.
* People that should be doing things for me, and the status of that (it should be easy to ‘ping’ them)
* Choosing to make Projects ‘complete’, or at least temporarily dropping them.

Creating New Clusters
* Suppose I have a task, P/GTDInbox – ‘Write Version 2’, there are probably lots of other tasks that are related.
In this case, I’ll probably dedicate a new project to it, P/GTDInboxV2Development, and start reviewing all P/GTDInbox items, since a certain date, marked S/Someday, S/Action and maybe P/GTDInboxIdeas
Anything that’s possibly a part of V2 gets the new project label, and S/Action.

Spontaneous reviews,
* If a mail comes in requesting information, I’ll try to find old resources for it – files/references/finished-actions within a project (or worst case, context).
Or, I might be more person focused, and try finding what projects the mail-sender is associated with (and searching in all of those).
Another important restriction is time. If the thread is old (or even if I just know when something happened); any searches I conduct may yield better answers within X months of a certain date (e.g. the date of the thread).
* Sometimes I’ll be IM-ing someone, and they’ll remind me of something that either we’ve discussed before, or belongs to a project. So I’ll begin a search over that user/project.
Common things to look for are files, links (which might be marked with a reference).
* When an email comes in, I often just want to get a quick reminder of who that contact is, and their history. So, it’s useful to see associated projects/labels, and previous conversations.

Self improvement,
* Often as I review, I find myself making quick ammendments to the labelling of threads

A final issue is items of a transient nature. The classic example being to prepare for a meeting.
There are often tasks that need to be done, and old resources to be gathered.
Crucially, a meeting is normally associated with some project; so that is a good starting point to find resources (old discussions, files, tasks, events & ideas).
The meeting most probably needs to be given a new project name (associated with some other project) to collate the resources.
As it’s upcoming, that project probably needs to remain ‘in focus’ in your environment (like some way to peg a project); so you can quickly return to it.
Once it’s finished, the project should be removed forever, contained in some ‘Old’ section, and all associated threads also need to be marked as finished.

This is as opposed to projects which go On Hold; perhaps they need another bucket? It may only be a tag, but it can be quite disconcerting to call a Project ‘old’ (or ‘finished’), when in fact it’s only inactive.

Okay, I’ve laid out more than I meant to here. But, I’d love to see what I’ve overlooked, or got wrong; and simply how you work (or would like to work) in Gmail!


This was written by Andy Mitchell