Thursday, June 21, 2012

How To Get a Daily Email of GQueues Tasks

This post is part of the series, "Tips & Tricks Thursdays," which highlights ways you can take advantage of GQueues to be even more productive.

Many GQueues users have requested the ability to get a daily email of tasks that are due. Building this into GQueues is definitely on my list of improvements to make. However, in the meantime here's a trick you can use to get Google Calendar to send you these emails.

First, make sure you have activated calendar integration for your GQueues account.  
Activate Google Calendar integration
Then go to Google Calendar and choose Notifications for the GQueues calendar.
Choose notifications for GQueues calendar
Then check the box to receive an email for your daily agenda.
Select email daily agenda
Now you will receive a message every morning at 5am with the GQueues tasks that are scheduled for the current day.
Daily agenda email

Thursday, June 14, 2012

How To Create Tasks for Co-Workers via Email

This post is part of the series, "Tips & Tricks Thursdays," which highlights ways you can take advantage of GQueues to be even more productive.

GQueues of course allows you to assign tasks to others or share an entire list with someone to collaborate. However, sometimes you may want to put a task on a co-worker's queue without having it appear in your own lists or as an assigned task. Here's how to do it:

Every GQueues user is assigned a unique GQueues email address, which can be found in the Settings panel.

GQueues unique email address
You can create a task for yourself by sending an email to this address.  The subject line will be converted into the task description and the body of the email into notes.  You can use the Quick Add Syntax to set other task properties such as the date, tags and queue.

Create GQueues task via email

So if you want to allow a co-worker to create tasks in your account, just give them your unique GQueues email address (to make things fair you may want ask for their address in return!)  By adding the address to your contacts and giving it an alias you can then easily create tasks in the other person's account.
Create GQueues task via email for co-worker

Matt's Inbox with task

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

What Is Your Email Strategy?

If you're like me, you probably have a number of habits for dealing with email in your life. Some practices are intentional - tricks you've learned to keep up with the deluge of messages. Other habits, perhaps less than ideal, are formed as a result of just trying to get through the day. For most of us, email is a primary mode of communication, essential to our work and livelihood. Yet, how many of us have taken the time to think about and plan a strategy for managing email so it doesn't manage us?  As my life grows more hectic I decided it's time for me to test an intentional, strategic approach.

Emotional Inbox

Before planning a new email strategy, it's important to uncover and acknowledge the emotions surrounding our current inbox habits. My inbox evokes both excitement and guilt. I love the thrill of a new message - it gives me a small rush of adrenaline. I have a Pavlovian response to my phone's vibration and my laptop's notification popup. Many have become addicted to this titillating sequence, this instant gratification. My inbox also houses a large amount of guilt. I hold tight to the notion that I must reply to every single email, and then feel guilty when this proves impossible. When I procrastinate responding to certain emails, they linger in my inbox for months and anguish arises whenever I see them. Neither of these emotions are ideal. In fact, while the content of messages can arouse certain feelings, it seems almost silly that the tool itself affects me so deeply. Weakening the emotional hold my inbox has on me is an important goal of any new strategy I employ.

The Great Distraction

Besides eliciting unhealthy emotions, email also serves as one of the best procrastination devices in my life. Whenever I want to postpone difficult work or don't feel like focusing I can always turn to email. Checking email gives me a rush; responding to and clearing a message reduces my guilt. It's such an effective technique because I can always justify its importance. Replying to email is integral to my business and life. However, responding instantaneously is not really as crucial, but I often choose to overlook this distinction. Of course the problem is that most meaningful work requires periods of focus, as Leo Babauta so succinctly notes in his new eBook focus. So while email is important, constantly interrupting my other work is largely counterproductive. I need a better system.

Mail Processing Center

There is already a great deal of advice for strategically managing your email, and I read a number of articles to help figure out a better approach for my life. One prevalent technique which I plan to test over the next few weeks is to set specific periods for checking and dealing with email during the day, and to ignore it at all other times. While closing down email seems particularly formidable, hopefully it will help break my automatic excitement when a new message pops in, and allow me to focus on more challenging work.

Along with set email times, I have decided to not check email on my phone. When I'm away from my desk it's better that I focus on what's going on around me and the people I'm with. Logically, this new habit makes sense as well. I already have a rule that I don't respond to work emails on my phone because it's so inefficient (typing on my iPhone is slow, and I almost always need to include links and screenshots). So if I'm not going to reply, it's gratuitous to read the message once, and then mark it unread so I can read it again later on my laptop when I'm ready to deal with it.

Lastly, I plan to practice improving my decision-making skills, so I can process my inbox more efficiently. This means dealing with an email in my inbox only once. I read it and either respond or create a task if it requires more time/work later. The key is that after I've read it once, it gets cleared from my inbox, so I don't keep re-reading the same messages and feeling guilty about not responding.

I'm not really sure how this two-week testing will go, but since email is such an integral part of my life I know it's worth trying to find some better ways to manage it. What is your email strategy?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

How To Add Images to Task Notes in GQueues

This post is part of the series, "Tips & Tricks Thursdays," which highlights ways you can take advantage of GQueues to be even more productive.

Attaching files to tasks is not yet available in GQueues, though it is on the roadmap and will be developed in the coming months. However, there is a simple trick for including images with tasks which you can use right now. When typing the notes for a task, paste in the URL to an image already on the web.  This could be a publicly available image or even one stored in your Google Drive.

When you click out of the notes, a thumbnail will be appear for easy reference. Clicking the thumbnail will display the full size image at its original location.  

Note: The image URL must end with one of the following extensions: .jpg .jpeg .png .gif .bmp .webp

Monday, June 4, 2012

Share Images in Google Chat with Drag and Drop

In my everyday life and work developing GQueues I often find myself chatting with someone and then need to share an image to reference in our conversation. Since Google Chat doesn't support sharing images, this usually involves sending them an email with the file attached, telling them it's sent, having them wait for the email, open the attachment and then we can continue on. Does this ever happen to you? If so, you know what an annoyance it is and waste of time.

In my quest to become more productive and simplify my life, a few months ago I decided it was time to end the pain. After a weekend of coding I finished GChat Pix: a Chrome extension which automatically uploads and shares an image just by dragging a file from your desktop to the chat window. If the other person has the extension too, they will see a clickable thumbnail directly in the chat window; otherwise a link is displayed.

I've decided to share this with everyone for FREE, so if you use Chrome and want to chat with images get the extension from the Chrome Web Store and give it a shot. Watch the video below to see it in action.

Note: since the extension is free, the maximum file size right now is 1mb and images are only available for 24 hours - the extension is intended for ephemeral sharing, not long-term file storage.

Chrome users, remember you can also get GQueues and the GQueues Chrome Extension so you can access the app from the new tab page and create tasks from any website.