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Using Gmail as a project and list keeper

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  • Using Gmail as a project and list keeper

    Hi all,

    I am currently trying to work out two major kinks in my system. I'll preface the issues below by saying that I use ToDoMatrix on my BlackBerry as my main "things" and project keeper. As far as incoming things go, Gmail is definitely my busiest "inbox".

    Like most everyone here, I send and receive well over a hundred emails a day. To deal with these emails, I initially tried to use Gmail's labels as folders, i.e. projects, waiting for, reference, etc. I checked out Kelly Forrister's article on setting up automatic filters, and it definitely works well.

    The issue I'm running into is this: since I use ToDoMatrix (TDM) as my main task and project keeper, I'm having a difficult time deciding if an incoming email should be placed in my Gmail labels or if I should make a note of it in TDM.

    If I put it in as an Action in my Gmail labels/folders, I can get confused because I usually have a project folder already set up under TDM. But if I just archive the email and enter in a note in TDM, it takes time to type up the note and I might lose track of the email.

    One thought I recently had was to make all the labels in Gmail to be reference or project-reference folders only, so no Action folder at all. That way, I can keep track of my NA's on TDM, while being able to refer to the necessary emails on Gmail. The only trick with that would be to make sure that the labels on Gmail correspond exactly with the labels I have on TDM. Simple in theory, but with over 100 projects, it's tough to remember if I already have a folder in TDM and vice versa.

    That said, do you guys have any suggestions for my predicament?

    Thanks in advance!

    Mike
    Last edited by Mischka; 08-21-2009, 10:35 AM.

  • #2
    I have a similar problem

    Originally posted by Mischka View Post
    I am currently trying to work out two major kinks in my system. I'll preface the issues below by saying that I use ToDoMatrix on my BlackBerry as my main "things" and project keeper. As far as incoming things go, Gmail is definitely my busiest "inbox".
    .
    .
    .
    One thought I recently had was to make all the labels in Gmail to be reference or project-reference folders only, so no Action folder at all. That way, I can keep track of my NA's on TDM, while being able to refer to the necessary emails on Gmail. The only trick with that would be to make sure that the labels on Gmail correspond exactly with the labels I have on TDM. Simple in theory, but with over 100 projects, it's tough to remember if I already have a folder in TDM and vice versa.
    I have a similar problem with different tools. My busiest inbox is Outlook so my natural inclination is to use Outlook tasks for my lists. Outlook folders are used for files and project support. In addition i have paper files and project support folders.

    The issue I have is much like yours. If I create a project support folder and forget to put the new project on my projects list, I can forget about the project. With the paper folders it is easy to catch at the weekly review because the folders are few enough, all on my desk (inactive and reference files in drawers), and I can tag the paper files with a colored label to indicate that I have verified that it is on my projects list.

    But my outlook folders are much more numerous and therefore much harder to review. Add to this the fact that I usually do not forget and I tend not to look for folders I forgot about. The interesting thing is that it is rare that I forget to put it on my projects list, but the thought that I might have causes me to try to keep things in my head.

    So, I am looking for an electronic colored label to apply to my electronic folders and a way to quickly find all folders that do not have the label during my weekly review. I need it for Outlook. Does GMail tags let you do something like that?

    Comment


    • #3
      Gmail does allow you to tag via color, which is very helpful to me as well.

      Comment


      • #4
        Is the next action associated with the email something you will do *while* you're in Gmail? For example, sending a reply or scheduling a coffee meeting [via email]? Then keep it in Gmail.

        If it needs you to do something outside of Gmail (call someone, read a book, write a report), then it moves into your task management system.

        Comment


        • #5
          Hi Marina,

          I guess the main problem is that about 90% of what I do is via email. However, my job requires that I save ALL communiques to our electronic database. Furthermore, our electronic database uses "ticklers" to remind us of tasks that need to be performed for our clients.

          Because of the above, I think I need to do away with labeling my work-related emails. I'm required to use our company's database system, so I'm basically doubling my work AND not following required procedures.

          My non-work emails, however, is a different story. I believe I should keep a separate project list on ToDoMatrix (TDM) and label incoming emails as project-reference or general-reference if needs be, but ACTIONABLE emails need to be inserted into TDM. Then the trick is keeping my project lists updated.

          Actually, now that I think about it, that's another question I have. Have any of you ever been in this position before? You get an email and determine you need to call up so-and-so about this. Before you're even done typing the Next Action, you look up and see you've already received a half dozen responses from other people. Now what do you do? Do you scrap the Next Action you just typed? Do you read through the emails and determine a new Next Action? Or do you just curse all emails and defer it to be read at a later time, potentially missing critical information?

          Let me know what you all think, thanks in advance!

          Comment


          • #6
            My suggestion: Read through the emails and determine a new Next Action. A doable, clear, actual next action makes all the difference.

            If you don't have the time at that moment to read through the emails and you don't think there is something critical in there, then you still have to create a new next action to go through the emails to determine a new next action.

            Comment


            • #7
              Thanks sdann. If the emails are project related, how would you go about tracking the issue on your project list? For instance, would let's say I don't have time to read through all the emails so I label/file them as @Read on Gmail. Do I then go into my project list and type up "Read emails in @Read on Gmail" as the NA for that specific project?

              It seems like that would be doing double work, but at the same time I feel like I would quickly lose track of my projects if I don't insert that item on my Project.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Mischka View Post
                Thanks sdann. If the emails are project related, how would you go about tracking the issue on your project list? For instance, would let's say I don't have time to read through all the emails so I label/file them as @Read on Gmail. Do I then go into my project list and type up "Read emails in @Read on Gmail" as the NA for that specific project?

                It seems like that would be doing double work, but at the same time I feel like I would quickly lose track of my projects if I don't insert that item on my Project.
                I know it seems like double work, but a quit notation helps you keep track. If you get a lot of emails regularly for a project, I can see it helping.

                Comment

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