For the past 3 months or so, I’ve been using Google Calendar as an informal way of managing my todo list. I would create an appointment for the time when I need to be reminded of the task, and I would get an SMS reminding me of the task. This was nice, I just didn’t have a very good way of pushing back tasks, or hitting a “snooze”, or even showing that the task was complete.
I decided to experiment using Gmail for todo list management. I created a “_todo” label (to keep the label near the top of my list of labels). I created a filter so that all emails coming into my gmail account with a subject starting with “todo – ” would be automatically added to the todo label, archived, and starred. This worked pretty good, but I ran into an almost random dilemma. I received an email from a friend with a subject starting with “todo – “, and it got added to my todo list. That isn’t so good. I added the incoming email address to be my work email address which is where most of my todo list items originate.
After using this system for a few days, I realized that using a special email address for adding todo entries would work well. On my personal website domain, I have Google Apps enabled, so that I can create custom email addresses and using Gmail forwarding for those email addresses. I created a new “todo” email account, that forwards all the email it gets to my Gmail account. On the Gmail side, I have a filter that takes all email sent to the todo account and places it in the todo label, stars and archives it. That way, only someone who knows about the account can send me a todo, and I can send myself a todo through any email account and using SMS on phone. When the todo item is created, it is starred and unread. I then read the todo item, showing that it has been processed. When the item is complete, I unstar the item. I now have a list of completed tasks as well. The included picture shows how it looks.
Now for the HowTo:
- Create a new email address with a service that allows for email forwarding.
- Forward all the email from the new address to your current main Gmail address.
- Create a new label for todo items.
- Create a filter for all items sent to your “todo account” to be added to the todo label; star & archive the new item as well.
- You can now send a new todo item to your “todo account” and have todo items automatically added to your Gmail account.
I like managing my todo list in the same place that I manage my email, although sometimes a reminder is needed when the task has a definite deadline. I still use Google Calendar for reminders to bring something to work in the morning, or perhaps to check a certain website at a certain time during the day.