GTDInbox is a Firefox add-on that enhances Gmail quite a bit. Big deal? Well, if you use Gmail daily and really want to stay on top of your extensive email correspondence – like yours truly – yes, it just might be. For my part, I’d definitely hate to go back to the good old plain vanilla Gmail without GTDInbox! Before I move on – is your browser of choice these days Chrome, by any chance? Then you are out of luck right now but I do hope GTDInbox will be ported to Chrome further on. Until that happens, I’ll stay with Firefox for sure.
‘Plain’ Gmail is great, but..
So, what’s wrong with Gmail the way it’s right out of the box? Not much, in my opinion – to me, Gmail is by far the best way to cope with e-mail, online or offline. However, Gmail was not primarily designed around the notion of considering e-mail messages as ‘poorly formatted tasks or resources’ (citing GTDInbox #1 slogan) that need to be acted on. This notion does describe pretty well the way I use e-mail so when I discovered GTDInbox it definitely was close to a religious experience!
Get your priorities right!
The very core of GTDInbox is the easy way of applying priorities to emails – both to your outgoing messages and to those you receive from others. There are a couple of ‘default’ priorities in GTDInbox that suit me just fine: NextAction (top priority), Action (must be dealt with but perhaps not right now), SomeDay (self-explanatory!), Finished (yup, you’re done with that email) and a real winner: WaitingOn (right, someone really should respond!). Using these labels, it’s easy to create a logical work flow and have a perfect bird-eye view on the email conversations. One of the very best things here is knowing exactly which of your outgoing emails you haven’t yet got an answer to.
There are lots of additional bells and whistles to GTDInbox, things you might or might not find crucial to your way of working with e-mail. Actually, GTDInbox transforms Gmail to a communications database that enables the user to choose the features he or she finds useful. Using priorities also means that your Gmail Inbox should never overflow to the extent that you, the user, are out of control. It is fully possible to arrange things so that the only email messages in your inbox are those you haven’t yet checked out at all.
To wrap things up: I’ve been using GTDInbox for quite a while and it has never in any way messed up my Gmail account. Yes, there have been bugs – and there most certainly will be! – but you always have the option to uninstall the extension and presto: you’re back to the ‘old’ Gmail experience. Further, GTDInbox is not fancy at all; when you’re not using it you hardly notice it’s there. With other words: it’s very much in Google style – and that’s one more thing I do appreciate a lot. This said, whatever email service you’re using, see to it you have at least a basic backup plan!
By the way, in case you’re still wondering what GTD stands for, so here goes: Get Things Done. After all, isn’t that what email is all about?