If you want to try out my system for moving Google Docs notifications or other “task” e-mails out of your inbox and into a better context — perhaps your task management system — you may want to start by downloading or signing up for some or all of the tools I’ve used for this purpose. Here they are:
- Dropbox is a cloud-based file storage system that I rely on to keep my files synced across multiple computers, and to share folders with my colleagues and collaborators.
- Syncplicity is a cloud-based file storage system, not unlike Dropbox, but with a bonus feature: it lets you sync Google Docs to your computer! I won’t go into the merits of Syncplicity vs. Dropbox, but suffice it to say that I’m way too embedded with Dropbox to even consider switching, and suspect that even if I were starting from scratch, I might well choose Dropbox over Syncplicity. Happily, I can have both, because Syncplicity’s free, 2 GB plan is more than enough to store all my Google Docs. Thanks to Right Now in Tech for a terrific guide to using Syncplicity with Dropbox in order to sync Google Docs to your desktop.
- Growl is a system utility that gives you little pop-up alerts about various things that are happening on your computer. Some people love it, and some people hate it. I like using it selectively.
- Fluid is a single-site web browser for the Mac, similar to Prism (which works for Windows & Linux machines, too.) You can use Fluid or Prism to give pseudo-app status to any web site you use frequently; it’s especially handy for web apps, which you may want to see in your dock or otherwise keep accessible so they don’t get lost in a sea of browser tabs.
- Things is my preferred task management program, but you can use your favorite: the basic approach I outline is feasible for many different widely-used task management tools.
- Applescript lets you automate a sequence of actions on your Mac. It’s not impossible for amateurs to hack together their own Applescripts (I did that myself, once!) but most of the time I just find something online that does the job, which is what I’ll do here.
- Gmail filters are the difference between happiness and despair. Learn more about how to use them here.
- Mail.app is my local e-mail client. You may be happier with something else but even if you’re mostly a web-based e-mailer there will be aspects of my filtering magic that are easier to implement with a desktop e-mail client.
- Mailplane is my new BFF. We started dating while I was writing my 7 Days to Inbox Zero series, and now we’re going steady and soon we’re going to register (it only costs $27, which is way less than you’ll pay for anything registered at Tiffany). It’s basically a Fluid or Prism-like thing that has been fine-tuned specifically for Gmail…and that turns out to be a very beautiful and handy thing when you’re messing around in your filters.
For more on the setup you need to create a filter-friendly e-mail triage system, read my post on the 5 essential ingredients.