Part II of this feature details the first half of processing items in GTD with Gmail. If you haven’t read how the collection process works, skip down to yesterday’s post – it is crucial.
Once emails (things) have been collected in my Gmail inbox they are processed. Gmail’s labels and stars are the keys to my implementation.
I have a label for the statuses of ‘Deferred’, ‘WaitingOn’ and ‘Someday,’ two labels for each open project (Next and Reference) and a label for each context. Statuses have no label prefix, contexts have the bang (!) prefix so they show up first in the list of labels, and projects have an asterisk (*) prefix to distinguish from the statuses. I use projects less frequently than traditional GTD implementations because many Projects can be managed quite effectively with the thread capability of Gmail without having to assign a label (using only contexts).
I use the stars to denote the Next action. Since many of my projects wind up with just a context associated with them, the title essentially becomes the “project folder name” and each action associated with the project is a different email in the thread. A star can be associated with any email in the thread and lets me know what the next action is.
Today’s GTD with Gmail advantage is this: I use the same Gmail account for all of my email, so all email coming in follows the same standard GTD process. No open loops: How happy it makes me. Tomorrow, we’ll finish the processing phase and talk about some new tricks.