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How to Make Gmail/Gcal Rock Your Tasks

How to Make Gmail/Gcal Rock Your Tasks
Gmail

There are a million tools out there to keep track of your tasks, your appointments, your emails and reminders. But let’s face it — each of them have their drawbacks, and finding the right combination can be an ongoing quest.

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Many people also love Gmail and Gcal as two of their online tools of choice – they’re simple tools that get the job done fast, wherever and whenever you need them. If you count yourself among this group, here’s a guide for using the Gmail/Gcal combination as your online information center.

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gcal
  • Gmailing Things Done (GTD). If you’re a fan of GTD, Gmail can be a simple way of implementing your to-do system. Treat each email as a task, and simply label them with a context (C:Home, C:Work, C:Calls, C:Read, C: Errands, etc.), and archive them. Then, when you are at work, click on the C:Work tag and see what needs to be done. When you’ve completed a task, removed the C:Work tag. Firefox extension GTDInbox adds some extras to this system, but it can be done simply by using context tags.
  • Leave Your Inbox Empty. As new email comes in, process them out of your inbox quickly — delete them, archive them, forward them (and then delete or archive), or tax them with a context tag and archive. Make decisions on each email quickly, or the emails will begin to pile up. Leave your inbox clear to get things off your mind, allowing you to focus better.
  • Use Gcal for Your Hard Landscape. For things that have to be done at a definite time, such as meetings or appointments, Gcal is a great choice of online calendars. It’s simple and quick. Add things quickly to your Gcal, and check it at least once in the morning to see what you have on tap for the day.
  • Gcal Quick Add Extension. If you’re busy doing something, and remember an appointment, or someone tells you about a meeting, you don’t want to forget it. But you also may not want to spend time opening your Gcal, finding the date, clicking to add a new appointment, and then typing the appointment. Instead, install the Gcal Quick Add Firefox extension, and you can pull up a quick entry box with Command-; and enter your appointment quickly: Meet Jerry 1 p.m. tomorrow at Conference RmA.
  • Compose Gmail Quickly. Want to send yourself a task in Gmail but don’t have much time? Set up a bookmarklet for a quick compose: 1) Click on “compose” in Gmail, and then click on the pop-out button in the compose area to bring it to a new window; 2) right-click on some blue space and select “Bookmark This Page” and save it in your Bookmarks Toolbar folder; 3) Right-click on the new bookmarklet you’ve created, select Properties and check “Load this bookmark in the sidebar”. Now just click on this bookmarklet at any time when you want to send yourself a new task, or send someone else a quick email.
  • To-do List for Gcal. Wish that Gcal had a simple to-do list? Install the To-do script for Gcal (you’ll need to have the Greasemonkey extension installed first).
  • Add Agenda to Gmail. Want your Gcal agenda for today to show up in Gmail? No problem. Install the Add Calendar Feed script (again, you’ll need Greasemonkey) to add a small agenda to your Gmail interface.
  • RTM for Gcal. If you would rather use Remember the Milk for your tasks, you can add your RTM agenda to each day in Gcal. Similarly, if you use Vitalist for your to-dos, you can sync your to-dos with your Gcal.
  • Gmail as a business diary. Blogger Steve Rubel details his system for using Gmail as a business diary, along with many more uses.

Leo Babauta blogs regularly about achieving goals through daily habits on Zen Habits, and covers such topics as productivity, GTD, simplifying, frugality, parenting, happiness, motivation, exercise, eating healthy and more. Read his articles on doubling your productivity, keeping your inbox empty, clearing your desk, becoming an early riser, and the Top 20 Motivation Hacks.

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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