Getting Things Done is a book by David Allen. The methodology from the book, commonly referred to as GTD, has become quite popular inside certain tech circles. I’ve been using GTD for roughly a year now. I can’t claim to be an expert at it, but it’s helped me stay organized during a period of my life that would otherwise have been extremely unorganized.
There are many tools out there that make implementing GTD on your computer fairly painless. For you fellow Mac cultists, Actiontastic does the job nicely with a clean, minimalist interface. There is also Tracks, a Rails-based web application that you can install… well, pretty much wherever. What I’d like to introduce in this post, though, is a unique Firefox extension called GTDGmail.
I’ve been using GTDGmail for a few months now. Once installed, it integrates with Gmail and modifies your view slightly. Among other things, it divides your tags into four categories: projects, contexts, statuses, and references. As e-mail messages come in, you can categorize them as actions by tagging them with the “Action” status. If an e-mail contains important information you’d like to keep for future reference, tag it with a “Reference” and a “Project.” As you tag your e-mail, it becomes available under GTDGmail’s pre-built search links that appear above your tags.
You can also send yourself actions and references. This is where the famous GTD practice of “capturing” comes into play. The idea is to get all that stuff floating around in your head out and organized into action items. Sending yourself an action or a reference results in a new e-mail message in your inbox, automatically tagges as an action or a reference and ready to be organized further into projects and contexts.
GTDGmail also has some handy non-GTD uses. For example, it makes regular tagging much easier by placing links at the top of each e-mail, one link for each tag. Simply click on a link to add that tag to the e-mail you’re currently viewing. Click the red X next to the tag to remove it from the e-mail. This is much faster than scrolling through a drop-down to find the tag you want to add or remove.
The only downside to GTDGmail is that it does make Gmail less responsive. Since GTDGmail has to overlay Gmail’s existing layout with additional information, it can get bogged down at times. However, the upside of being able to immediately categorize your incoming e-mail into action items more than makes up for this. GTDGmail is not for everyone, but I encourage you to try it out to see if it fits your own organizational style.