Gmail inbox and productivity (or Archive? my a$$)

Gmail inbox

Does your gmail inbox look like this one? Mine does.

Does having a never-ending, never-empty inbox stress you out? Yeah, me too.

Did you know *you* can have a beautifully clean, empty gmail inbox with all your emails beautifully filed away, out of sight where they’re not going to make you feel anxious? No, me either.

In fact, I just got half way through a ranting post about how unproductive the Gmail inbox was and how it made me feel stressed that I was forgetting or losing something and then I discovered…

…the ‘Archive‘ button doesn’t mean *really* mean archive. It actually means ‘don’t show in the inbox anymore‘.

I had to do a Google search, then read a whitepaper on using Gmail for GTD (Getting Things Done), then test it out in Gmail myself, before I actually discovered this. But, the good news is – it’s true. So now I have a few thousand emails to label and archive and a stress free, productivity enhancing inbox will once again be mine. Hoorah.

ok. Now for the vent…

Who was the crazy person who thought that ‘Archive’ was the right word for that button? And then who approved it? Did this get tested with users? How many? Who are they?

When you think of Archive, what associations does it carry for you?

For me, when I think of archive, I’m thinking of documents that have gone to a ‘special place’ often in a special format (where else do we still use tape, i ask you), that have gone there because we either don’t think we’ll need them anymore OR because we might need them in the future so we have a backup.

They’re typically hard to find, hard to access, hard to restore. They’re for the future… preferably future generations. They’re not intended for next week.

You sure as hell don’t get to my idea of archive using a simple keyword search!

What is the right word for this button?

Like I said before, what it actually means is ‘don’t show in my inbox anymore’. I’m thinking ‘File’ might be an alternative, but it’s got all those ‘file, edit, view’ assocations, so probably not a good option. Maybe ‘File Away’?
The folder metaphor doesn’t exist in Gmail, so we can’t use something like Outlook’s ‘Move to Folder’. Maybe it is something like ‘Remove from Inbox’ or ‘Don’t Show’ – maybe not… it would be preferable to have a positive label rather than negative here. This is nice functionality!

Hrm… so off the top of my head, I’m not sure. Anyone feel like workshopping it here and we’ll email Google and ask them to change it.

I’m not sure if I’m more relieved to have found it, or angry at how it’s been labelled… but one thing is obvious. Labels matter. Let’s spend some time making sure we’ve got them right and that our audience understands it.

OK. So tell me:

– Am I the only one who didn’t get the archive thing?

– How would you label that button?

Image credit: Ario @ Flickr (who is also interested in Information Anxiety)

Using Google Calendar to replace MS Project

Tickler Calendar

The more I use Google Calendar, the more I love it.

Yesteday I realised that I could pretty much use it to replace Microsoft Project (if only I could create dependencies between items and spit out a gant chart…. perhaps I’ll just have to train clients to not like gant charts quite so much. What’s with that, hey?)

Google Calendar is SOOOO much better at managing multiple projects + life that MS Project will ever be. (Ever experienced a Project Central implementation? You’ll know what I’m talking about).

When I take on a new project, I create a new Google Calendar and name it after the project. I can then assign tasks to that calendar that appear, beautifully colour coded, in amongst all my other projects and personal activities on one calendar. At a glance I can see when I’m going to be super busy and when I’ll be able to go have lunch out of the office.

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Finally! Creating a Table of Contents in Visio (how did I not find this until now?!)

Call me crazy, but I feel as though I’ve just uncovered the holy grail of Visio.

I don’t know how many people I’ve asked about ways that you can create a Table of Contents in Visio. It seems like it should be sooooo easy, but no one has ever been able to help me out.

So I had a bit of ‘R&D time’ this afternoon and was playing with the Annotation Hiding Macro that Donna posted yesterday, then poked around a few of her other Visio pages, and there, in amongst some comments, I found it! A Macro that creates a Table of Contents in Visio for you.

Hoorah! Celebrations all round!

(Or did you all already know how to do this and I’ve been living under a Visio rock?!)

Now… it’s not all that pretty. But, for now, it does the trick.

Without any further ado, here it is (with many thanks to Bram!):

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Hooray! Google Calendar! (you made my day)

Google Calendar
What a great way to wrap up a four day week (is it just me, or do the short weeks sometimes feel the longest!). Out of nowhere, say hello to Google Calendar.
Even better, it’s a pleasure to use. It does everything I want it to. It’s integrated with Gmail.
I’m in love. And, I hope to never use Outlook ever again. :)
I’ve been playing around with web based calendars for a while now, and they’ve all disappointed me with their interface, their inability to deal with the fact that I’m not in the US, their broken importing of outlook calendars, and other annoyances. So far, Google Calendar has only surprised me with little things it does that I wasn’t expecting. Now, if only I could be pleasantly surprised by seeing Google Maps for Australia!
Image Credit: BorkWeb
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