I’m deliriously happy.
Happy to be wrong, that is. The other day I said Google didn’t know how to do “to do” lists properly. They don’t. But that’s beside the point – it seems google has figured out that I don’t yet know how to do “to do” lists. In the same way, I used to think documents were slow-moving, local objects that you protect on a hard drive, and now I think they’re collaborative ‘events’ that you share on the internet – that expand, connect and relate, because of that. I was telling Google that to do lists are like emails to yourself. Google already has it figured out. I don’t know if they realize it, but their new PIM turns e-mails back into “to do” lists. If it’s not an action item, folks, honestly, in the world of work, what is it? Someone said that when you make books, write to do lists, not “notes”, otherwise you’re reading the wrong books. Why would it be different for e-mail?
Google recently added two glorious features to gmail – the best app in the world (we don’t capitalize it around here – it’s your OS in the future). By far, the best new feature is multiple inboxes (it’s in your settings) and a close second is the ultra-fast “move to” dropdown. The inboxes change the meaning of the application, turning it into a book of work, and the “move to” feature is like a rotary sander vs. a wood block – with the one you have a business – the other is just good enough for a quick job.
I spent a good chunk of time cleaning up my giant inbox, before I found these. I had about 270 messages, and I just was never going to find out what I’d forgotten to do on page 3. So I started backwards, processing, doing, eliminating… I made it to about 170 messages, when I got really tired of it and went fiddling w. my gmail settings.
Within a few minutes, I had several inboxes on one page. I didn’t even know how to do it right – I just named them, and it automatically used the names to categorize messages, so I instantly saw my schema – the picture, at a glance, of what I’m doing and care about right now. I was floored. But it works particularly well when you base each inbox on a label. So I started cleaning up my labels. I got it from about 40+ labels to about 10. The 10 that matter to me, now. Consolidate, consolidate – that’s the rule. Don’t have a label called “information”. Is it information for its own sake? If so, it’s the wrong information. What are you going to *do* with it? Assign it a purpose or an action.
In cleaning up labels, I discovered the instant “move to” function. Holy wow! That wasn’t there, before! Put these things together, and within a few minutes – yes, minutes! – I had separate inboxes for Clients, Contractors, Business Partners, Accounting, and yes… To Do. Ta Da!. It was so good that I added some GTD by creating To Do Right Away and To Do Eventually. Google, I need room for one more inbox. Hell, just give me 10. Paired with making decisions right away, as to whether something will get further attention, this is an effective time-management tool. It’s a life-management tool – after all, just categorizing something based on an action represents a decision.
My gmail is now a PIM (personal information manager). Combined with my sidebars showing my calendar items, google docs, and chat, it’s about 10 times the app it was just a little while ago. It’s gmail raised to an exponent. Needs twitter integration tho. Google, just go ahead and buy them! You know you want to. Yes, Twitter, it’ll hurt a bit, but it’ll hurt so good. Put my Twitter and my Facebook wall in there, Google, and you’ve got an even bigger winner.
I nearly said “woman”. Google, if you were a woman, I’d… Anyway, it’s fantastic. For those of you that think I’m gushing, needlessly, look, technology has given me arms and legs. I was a mere mortal before technology, and now I’m batman. I walk by and kick sand in the face of small tasks. Google has given me a toolbelt fit for a superhero. Thank you, Google. I’ll use it all. Including my Google Notebook – you can have my Notebook when you pry it from my… on second thought, you can’t have it, even then!
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