Seven Steps to Transforming Your Email into a Time Management System [Gmail]

Stop using your inbox as a reminder system, filing folder, to do list and appointment book!  Instead, use more of the features of your email program to radically streamline your day and move your mission forward.

  1. Create task lists for prioritizing (P1, P2, P3) emails and assigning (@assigneename) tasks. In your inbox, toggle the “Gmail” menu top left then choose Tasks to make lists visible.  On the bottom right of the Task Pane, create the three new priority lists and a list for each staffer to whom you assign tasks (e.g., @Mary).
  2. Add emails that require action to the proper Task List. When you open each email, choose “More” up top then choose “Add to Tasks.”  This will add the task inflatable sumo suits to the currently visible task list, where you can open it and add a deadline.  For speed, you may want to add all actionable emails to one list then switch them to the right list in your task pane (using “move to list” when you open each task).
  3. Add Event emails to your calendar. When you open email invitations, choose “More” up top then choose “Create an Event.”
  4. Process your inbox at the top of each day. After you read each email, either: 1) Click to Add to Tasks; or 2) click to Create an Event and add it to your calendar.
  5. Assign tasks to staffers after processing emails and sending tasks to lists. Once you’ve completed @Mary’s assigned task list, just choose “Actions” at the bottom and email her the list.   When she marks tasks complete, they’ll update on your end, too!
  6. Schedule your day on Google Calendar every day. In Google Calendar, scroll to the bottom of the “My Calendar menu on the left and check Tasks.  It displays one list at a time – drag and drop tasks onto your calendar, starting with the P1s, of course.
  7. Update your Task Lists daily. Update deadlines or check items as completed at the end of every day.  You can use Gmail’s Task List pane, or enjoy a full-page display using Canvas View for Google Tasks.

To really enjoy this new way of using Gmail to manage time, add Google’s Gmail, Tasks and Calendar apps to your smartphone.  That will let you manage all three functions – email, tasks and calendar – at your desk and on the go.