My Gmail practice

A friend asked me recently how I keep track of what needs acted upon in Gmail, where messages live forever in the “archive”. I replied with the following and thought I’d post it here in case it’s useful to anyone else. I claimed earlier that I would post stuff like this on Practict, but I’ve since noticed that absolutely no one reads that, probably not even Googlebot. Additionally, I’ve realized that the (hopefully) practical tidbits I write up provide some insight into who I am, and thus are consistent with the stated theme of this blog.

I do delete stuff that I know I’ll never read again, like “bagels in the copy room” or automated reminders from RTM.

I think of the Inbox as another label and for me “in:inbox” means that it requires action. When the action is complete, I archive it. A reply in the conversation brings it back into the inbox to act on. I also have status labels “Waiting On” and “Some Day” to qualify the inbox messages.

I use the Quick Links feature in the Lab experiments settings tab to make new views on the inbox, like, “Research to process”. That’s “in:inbox label:Research”.

The Better Gmail extension for Firefox has a really great macro, f-Focus, which takes whatever your current view is and narrows it down to messages that are (in:inbox OR is:unread) AND !is:muted. i.e. ({in:inbox is:unread} !is:muted). I used to love that, but I use Mailplane now for Gmail on my Mac and it’s not extensible.

Since writing that e-mail this morning, Google released a beta of their new Chrome browser for Windows. I gotta say, it’s nice. The best part is it has a simple “Create application shortcuts…” function for any website that basically turns it into a desktop app. Mozilla has something similar with Prism but compared to Chrome it’s bloated and slow. I’ll probably stick with Fluid on my Mac, and I look forward Safari 4.0, which is supposed to have something similar. Hopefully Google will have ported Gears to work in Safari by then. Shouldn’t be hard since Chrome also uses WebKit.

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