How to GTD your email

The main thing that makes email so stressful is that emails are “open loops” in your brain. You already have a prioritized todo list and calendar, but emails exist outside of that system. Unlike other apps, with you can prioritize and organize emails together with your other tasks and calendar.

This article describes how to get your inbox under control in with GTD (Getting Things Done), but these concepts can apply to any organization system. offers three ways to process emails: prioritize directly in the Inbox, move emails onto a todo list, and manage multiple labels on a Kanban board.

1. Prioritize emails in the Inbox

This method is used for quickly triaging emails without taking the time to add additional context. We recommend this for tasks which you plan to do right away, while longer-term tasks should be moved to your outline or calendar as described down below.

  1. As is typical with GTD, for each email that requires no action, archive or delete it.
  2. If it is easy to handle or respond to quickly, do it now.
  3. If it needs further action set a priority (1-3) and move on.
  4. When you reach the end of the inbox, sort by priority and start with the most important emails.

2. Organize emails where they belong

Emails that can’t be handled quickly should be moved out of the inbox and alongside other tasks so that you can deal with them later. An email might represent a task in its own right, be a reference for an existing task, or just be something to save for later. offers multiple ways to organize these emails:

With other tasks on the Outline

For emails that belong on a todo list, add it to your Outline. Once an email is in the Outline, add sub-items, notes, or tags to add extra information like any other item or task.

  1. Drag the email to the Outline. This can either be a task on it’s own, or a child of an existing task.
  2. Use the Create Task menu by right clicking the email or using the T hotkey. This creates a new task with the email as a child, and you can optionally add it to an existing task or project or add some notes.
  3. Move to Outline by right clicking the email or using the M hotkey. Start typing the name of the item to add it to, and choose it from the autocomplete list.

On the Calendar

If an email needs to be handled at a specific time, add it to your calendar.

  1. Drag and drop the email to the Calendar.
  2. Use the Create Task menu described in #2 above and type a @date after the task name.
  3. Add to Calendar by right clicking the email or pressing C. Type a date to add it to your calendar.

Review priorities of emails and tasks together

Once your email is out of your inbox, you have powerful management tools to see a complete picture of what you have to do next.

If you like to prioritize by time, the Agenda shows all of your tasks and emails together, in priority order.

Searching an Outline pane for related items may be best if you prefer to organize by project or context.

If you prefer a flat task view without all the hierarchy, use the “Only matching items” filter in the search bar.

3. Multiple labels side by side

If you already have a system for organizing emails with labels, makes it easy to work with multiple labels side by side. Add additional Gmail panes and set each one to a different label by clicking the hamburger icon at the top left of the pane and selecting a label from the list. Then you can drag and drop emails between the labels.