Evolving Bits

Sat Oct 25 2008

Effortless Email Management with GTD and Remember the Milk

If you're using Gmail, and want to manage it using GTD, I found a great solution.

I'm now using Remember the Milk as my primary GTD tool with the Firefox extension for Gmail. The extension lets you see all your action items on the right side of the Gmail page (grouped by day) and lets you add new ones and roll-over existing ones and make quick changes and reschedules.

Its most useful feature is that you can add action items automatically when you "star" (or tag) a Gmail message. With many of my actionable items and reminders coming in through email, this is a killer feature for me.

For example...

...if a client sends me an email that I need to respond to later in the day, I just star it and it registers as an action item for today. If I decide I really could answer it tomorrow, I can roll over the new action item, and click the "postpone" button or type in a due date of "tomorrow".

Then, when tomorrow comes and it's time to act on this, I roll over the action item and now see a little "envelope" icon which allows me to jump to the email, reply to it, unstar it, and the task disappears because it's done.

There are some very nice OSX GTD apps (like OmniFocus, and Things) but after personally jumping from client to client, I decided I wanted to go with a web-based service that had an API in case I wanted to extend it with a new UI, or maybe integrate it with another web service.

I looked at many web-based tools, but liked Remember the Milk for its API, its web-based interface (not flashy, but useful), no syncing worries, the Gmail Firefox extension (my main interface for using it), and it even has a nice iPhone web interface (with a native iPhone app rumored). For the iPhone interface, they ask you to join their Pro membership, but $25 for a year is well worth supporting this great service.

I also built CollectiveGTD for Plone, but have decided to take a different direction with this product. Instead of it being a tool to manage all my general GTD needs, it will evolve into a set of tools for managing Plone content within a site.