New to GTD and a Gmail Addict, looking for feedback

SCOTTeVESTceo

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Hi everyone. I am 75% through the book and committed to this, but struggling setting up my Gmail Inbox properly and could use some help. Previously, I work with zero inbox using no labels but snoozing heavily. I feel that I need to use labels/folders along with snoozing feature, but not sure the best set up.

Also, having some issues determining hard edges for Projects but hope to resolve that on my own.

I'd love to see screenshots of your Folder/Label structure. Mine is here, obviously very early.

I am also struggling with the Waiting For/Delegated folder structure. Seems that most things I do are delegated. Any input here is appreciated. It seems that working with non-GTG folks makes life difficult.

The good news is that for the most part, ALL of my GTD Inbox is somewhere in my Inbox or Gmail (snoozed), so my inventory phase should not be that hard.

Thanks very much. I look forward to being an active member of this community.

Scott
 

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chirmer

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Here's mine. It's nothing crazy or revolutionary - just my key needs.

Pasted Graphic.png

I keep labels for key statuses - Awaiting Reply, Following, Pay Stubs, Policies, and Receipts.

Then I have a master label for active projects, with each project having its own sublabel, and completed project, where I move them when they are done. All active projects have the same label color, as well as all complete, so I can visually associate a label as active or complete when in my email list.

That's it, really!

Re: snooze, I use it when I cannot act in any way on an email until a later date. I will snooze it until then. If I need to see it when going thru my lists, I will add it there, but if it's just going to be clutter... nah. Snoozed and forgotten!

Hope this helps.
 

SCOTTeVESTceo

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Thanks so much. So you do labels by "Project" too, along with the key status too, and color coded?

So, if I have a project, e.g. Facebook Advertising, I should have the GTD categories/status for that project?
 

PeterByrom

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Very glad you're using GMAIL! Much better for tagging than Outlook!

Here's the principle I recommend:

You need to have two types of tags:

1. Normal tags, named after whatever the item is about.
2. Special tags with a "-" or "@" prefix, named after whatever you need to DO with the item.

And the simplest setup, indeed, is to just make two special tags:

-Action
-Waiting For

That means, when you're processing your inbox, you can tag an email with BOTH the detail of what the email is about, and what you need to do with it. for example, you find an email from the Finance Dept asking you to review a report and send feedback, so you add the tags "finance" and "-action".

After you've completed the action, and you remove the "-action" tag, then that means you've archived the item already, because it will just sit in "finance"!
 

SCOTTeVESTceo

Registered
Very glad you're using GMAIL! Much better for tagging than Outlook!

Here's the principle I recommend:

You need to have two types of tags:

1. Normal tags, named after whatever the item is about.
2. Special tags with a "-" or "@" prefix, named after whatever you need to DO with the item.

And the simplest setup, indeed, is to just make two special tags:

-Action
-Waiting For

That means, when you're processing your inbox, you can tag an email with BOTH the detail of what the email is about, and what you need to do with it. for example, you find an email from the Finance Dept asking you to review a report and send feedback, so you add the tags "finance" and "-action".

After you've completed the action, and you remove the "-action" tag, then that means you've archived the item already, because it will just sit in "finance"!

OMG. This is soooo helpful. I find that I do extremely well before GTD using inbox zero principles along with snooze, but ensure I can manage not just by snooze but the GTD principles it would be so much better.

I still haven't figured out what to call a "project" yet, but perhaps that will come to me. Also, having difficulties with Waiting For and delegated tasks as most people seem to ignore emails and it requires a ton of Follow Up just to get the ball moving.
 

PeterByrom

Registered
OMG. This is soooo helpful. I find that I do extremely well before GTD using inbox zero principles along with snooze, but ensure I can manage not just by snooze but the GTD principles it would be so much better.

I still haven't figured out what to call a "project" yet, but perhaps that will come to me. Also, having difficulties with Waiting For and delegated tasks as most people seem to ignore emails and it requires a ton of Follow Up just to get the ball moving.

If you have emails related to a project then I would just create a tag with a keyword for that project.

Eg if you have a project in your projects list called “launch new website” then you could call the tag “web launch”.

Then, if you have an actionable email for this project, you can tag it with “-action” and “web launch”.

Another tip:

In gmail, the “-“ prefix places the tag higher up than the “@“ prefix, so they would sort, for example, like this:

-A
@A
A

This means that if you have a really hot project on the go and you want to reach the project tag fast, you could even put a “@“ prefix at the start of the project. That way, it won’t sit above your “-action” tags, but it will sit above all the other folders.

So, if you called the example tag “@web launch” then you wouldn’t need to scroll down all the way to “w” to access it.

It’s important to be careful not to overdo the use of this “project support / quick access” prefix though, and make sure you remove it when you don’t need to go to the tag as frequently any more (this is the equivalent of making sure you don’t let too many project support folders clutter your desk)!

Another decision to make is:

Are you going to track your email-related next actions in your GTD system? If so, then it’s better to call the “-action” and “-waiting for” tags “-action support” and “-waiting for support”.

Finally, have you experimented with “priority inbox” in gmail settings? This allows you to split your inbox view so that you can see the contents of your “-action” and “-waiting for” tags in the same view as your new & unread messages. Worth an explore.
 

SCOTTeVESTceo

Registered
This has been VERY helpful.
I am still struggling understanding when to nest things. I have things nested under GTD, see
Screenshot 2020-08-04 06.16.15.png

This makes sense to me, but for "projects"I am using * before each item, and nesting some subprojects underneath. I am not entirely sure how many "labels" I can use for a single email. It seems that once I label something I am limited in part to how many labels or layers I can use.

It is a bit of an effort for me to "process" every single email into the GTD category and project label too, then I need to put some reminder dates on some and not others. Then, it seems that I should color code and/or create a label for priority.

I don't want to over complicate this. This is clearly better than my old system, which had NO tags, just reminders. But I am spending lots of time trying to determine best system.

Once I do this, I need to incorporate into Google Documents/Spreadsheets, then Asana, then need to schedule recurring meetings with myself to go through each folder to reprioritize them as needed.

Thanks much for all your help.
Screenshot 2020-08-04 06.17.22.png
 

chirmer

Registered
The best thing you can do is track your actions in your action lists, and keep your email reference system very simple.

Gmail has the benefit of unique links to emails, so you can link to emails in the action notes to get to them. I personally do not find having a label that designates action support emails useful, but YMMV. To me, it's redundant and unnecessary overhead. If an email is support for a task, I get to it from my task list, not thru email labels. Labels are there for grouping emails - if they don't need to be found as a group, I don't use a label.

I still haven't figured out what to call a "project" yet, but perhaps that will come to me. Also, having difficulties with Waiting For and delegated tasks as most people seem to ignore emails and it requires a ton of Follow Up just to get the ball moving.

So for me, a "project" is anything that has a definable, "this is done" end result ("Host Marketing Summit" would be one), or is something ongoing but clearly definable (House Maintenance). The latter isn't strictly GTD, I don't think, but for me it works best to treat that type of thing as a project. So, I have labels for stuff like this.

When it comes to waiting for/delegated, I personally put these in my task list. Remember, email is REFERENCE, not an ACTION LIST, so you don't want to set up a system where you need to check your email to make sure you didn't forget a task. Make an action in your next actions list to "Follow up with so-and-so on such-and-such" and link the email in the action support. If you want to follow up BY a specific day, set a deadline. If you want to follow up ON a specific day, put it on your calendar and skip your action list entirely. But don't set it up so you need to see it in your email to act on it. That's a recipe for disaster.
 

PeterByrom

Registered
Generally, I wouldn’t bother nesting tags. Why make it more complicated? If you can get away with a flat list of tags, do it. Only nest if you really feel like a flat list isn’t enough.

I’d recommend watching some setup guides on GTD Connect. You don’t want email to become a substitute for your GTD projects and next actions lists.
 

SCOTTeVESTceo

Registered
Thanks all. I am going to sign up for GTD Connect now.
I am finding that I am spending too much time adding tags for "projects" and GTD Next Action/Waiting For, etc.
Candidly, historically, most of my Next Actions are Following UP on my Waiting For lists via reminder functions. I think I need to train the people I am waiting for things on what the expectations are.
I use email almost exclusively to manage my day, and hoping to continue using that methodology moving forward.
I'm off to GTD Connect.
Wish me luck!
 

Steffen

Registered
Thanks all. I am going to sign up for GTD Connect now.
I am finding that I am spending too much time adding tags for "projects" and GTD Next Action/Waiting For, etc.
Candidly, historically, most of my Next Actions are Following UP on my Waiting For lists via reminder functions. I think I need to train the people I am waiting for things on what the expectations are.
I use email almost exclusively to manage my day, and hoping to continue using that methodology moving forward.
I'm off to GTD Connect.
Wish me luck!

Is managing your day off your emails not the complete opposite of GTD?

For me the email is just another Inbox. I get in, clarify, decide next actions and get out again as quickly as possible.

I also structure my folders the exact way David Allan does as explained in this short video.

 

Inhuman Artist

Registered
L
Is managing your day off your emails not the complete opposite of GTD?

For me the email is just another Inbox. I get in, clarify, decide next actions and get out again as quickly as possible.

I also structure my folders the exact way David Allan does as explained in this short video.

Love this setup. I'm also new to GTD and this is exactly the simplification I am looking for.
 

PeterByrom

Registered
Is managing your day off your emails not the complete opposite of GTD?

For me the email is just another Inbox. I get in, clarify, decide next actions and get out again as quickly as possible.

I also structure my folders the exact way David Allan does as explained in this short video.


I concur. Email is not something you should be using to manage yourself. You should be managing your emails (ie processing the inbox and then storing the emails you want to keep in such a way that they are accessible easily when needed).

You can use google tasks, for example, as a tool within Gmail, for projects and actions lists, but note how even this is using a list tool rather than the email and folders themselves.

Have a watch of this video, as a taster of how David Allen coaches the key GTD process:

 
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