GTD with Gmail (Part V)

It’s time for the practical demonstration of GTD with Gmail. If you’re just joining us, please skip down and read parts I-IV.

First, collection. Theoretically we start and end with a clean inbox. I try to never leave Gmail with anything in my inbox (that’s much easier now that I’ve implemented GTD with Gmail). So we start here:

empty inbox

My wife mentions to me that we need to remodel our second bathroom. Right now, this is an open loop. I get that simple notion into my collection inbox:

out of mind, into gmail

While I’m closing loops, I look out the window and realize that I can’t see the street for the stalk-like greenery growing in my front yard so I add another thought to my inbox. Now I’ve got two.

the inbox, with thoughts

As it turns out, “mow the lawn” happens to be an action. I open the message up, give it a context label “!Home,” star the message and then archive it. This is an independent action (the star) not belonging to a project.

process an independent action

The next item in my inbox is not an action. It looks a good bit like a project to me, so the processing stage here involves listing the actions I can think of associated with this project. I create a message for each action and here’s the result:

build the actions of a project

Now I select all of these actions, apply the Bathroom:Actions label, use the star to mark the next action in this project and then archive these actions.

organize project actions

This is the view I use most often. Generally, I’ll hit this page when I need something to do, or when I know I should be doing something. The “starred” view shows me all next actions.

review next actions

This is the project view. I’ll review these weekly at a minimum, and then of course whenever I have any sort of workflow going on a specific project. Notice that the next action has a star.

review project actions

Once a project-homed action is complete, I add the appropriate reference label to it (if necessary – sometimes I’ll add a context label, or even trash it), remove the star, add the star to the next action, and then remove the project’s action label.

completing a project action

Now that I’ve picked out my paint color, I decide it’s cool enough outside to mow the lawn. Once I get back in, I retrieve the item by going into my starred view, open the message and then remove the star.

completing an independent action

In my real inbox, I have status labels (mostly just as meta-data) and I use asterisks(*) to denote projects, but I’ve left them out in this example for simplicity. Tomorrow I’ll sum up with some answers to questions and give some acknowledgements. Thanks again for visiting.

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