A year or two ago I read about the psychological implications of an empty inbox, that an empty inbox vs a full inbox has the same impact as a clean desk vs. a cluttered desk. So I decided to give it a try: I made action folders / labels (I think someone else’s idea, but I can’t remember whose), folders / labels based on verbs rather than nouns to organize my email. My folders / labels are Act, Review, Respond, Grade, Drafts, and Pending (so there is a noun or two in there). And I agreed. The empty inbox was a nice thing. I’m not militant about it nor do I exclaim triumphantly when I do empty my inbox but it is something I strive for. The problem with the action folders / labels, on the other hand, is the same as physical folders: they don’t matter unless you actually look in them. So I will leave short term / emails that require immediate attention in my inbox to deal with them.

Last night I was looking to clean up the inbox, but there was one email that I needed to deal with by the 29th. I didn’t want to leave it in the inbox that whole time but I also didn’t want to file it away (and potentially forget about it, since it is time sensitive). I decided to try something I had learned while taking the GAFE exams: the ‘Move to Tasks’ feature in Gmail.

Gmail lets you take an email message and automatically add the subject line to your tasks list.

  1. With the email open, go to the More menu.
  2. Click on ‘Add to Tasks’.
  3. You can edit the the title / task in the task list.

I’ve included illustrations below.

Screen Shot 2014-08-23 at 5.35.56 AMScreen Shot 2014-08-23 at 5.33.39 AM

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