Implementing Getting Things Done (GTD) in Gmail

One thing that you will notice with GTD (Getting Things Done) is that it is a strategy to follow, but it can be implemented in numerous different ways.  One struggle I see many people have is finding an implementation that works for them, whether it be physical, electronic or a hybrid.

Here is one way that GTD that be implemented using Gmail and Calendar.  This is the method that I currently use for managing.


As I discussed in a previous blog, Why You Should Use Multiple Monitors, I use triple monitors for my home office setup.  With this setup, I can use one monitor with my task list (personal and businesses) and the other two for working through the tasks.  I use Google Chrome as my browser of choice.  In the screenshots below, I will walk you through my setup and process.


Main Screen

-Common links in the bookmarks menu
Active Inbox ($25/year – plugin for Chrome & Firefox) puts each context list at the top of the Gmail window
Inbox Pause (Free) adds a pause button to prevent me from getting distracted from new email.  This allows me to process email in batches on my time.
-I have zero items in my inbox (they are all in my context lists)
-Along the left side, I have my context lists (@xxx) and reference lists (Accountant, Bank, etc).
-I then also have my Google Calendar with upcoming events




Context Screen

-By clicking a context at the top, I see all items within that context.
-By using Gmail labels, I can not only see context, but also any reference tags applied to the item
-Using the sub-context list, I can quickly move an item from one list to another (ex. from @Office to @WaitingFor)
-Can also set due dates on each item


Creating a Task

-Create a task by using same method as creating an email.  “Compose Self” tab allows this to be done quickly
-I have all of my email addresses within Gmail, so I can receive and send email from a single place.
-My signature is customized for each address.
-I can quickly tag the context of the task.
-I can also set a due date.



Export to Calendar

-Easily export tasks to calender
-Add notes to tasks




-Quick access to day, week, month, year view
-Multiple calendars (personal + businesses)
-Each calendar is color coded



-Relatively inexpensive ($25/year for ActiveInbox, otherwise free)
-Since many tasks come from email, it allows me to use my email as my inbox
-Since Gmail is a service (not software), I can access it from any Internet connected device (Office computer, smartphone, laptop, etc.)
-Easily connect to Calendar
-I can add a new task from anywhere just by sending an email
-Labels  not only allow putting items into context lists, but also allow an easy way of applying reference tags to tasks
-Items can show up in multiple lists, which is great for reference
-I can quickly see how many items are on each list
-No need to delete items since Gmail has so much space
-Can use multiple email addresses/calendars which is very important with multiple businesses


-ActiveInbox is not available on my smartphone, so I lose some features
-Cannot reconfigure Gmail (at least I have not spent enough time yet) to show various lists at once (multiple inbox would probably work).  I don’t like having to click into each list.





1 thought on “Implementing Getting Things Done (GTD) in Gmail”

  1. For implementing GTD you can use this application:

    Gtdagenda. com

    You can use it to manage your goals, projects and tasks, set next actions and contexts, use checklists, and a calendar.
    Syncs with Evernote and Google Calendar, and also comes with mobile version, and Android and iPhone apps.

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