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In the modern workforce, your email often turns into your task list. Trello is a great app to organise your tasks Trello - A Unique, Simple & Powerful Project Management System From A Good Home Trello - A Unique, Simple & Powerful Project Management System From A Good Home Does the name Joel Spolsky mean anything to you? If so, you’re going to want to read this post, because it showcases Spolsky’s latest and greatest project. And if not, you should know this is... Read More . Well, now you can get the same sort of organisation right in Gmail with a new Chrome extension, Sortd.

Sortd is a skin that adds a new layer to your Gmail. Click the small red tab on the side to activate and you’ll be taken to the Sortd view, which is essentially a kanban board—columns where you can add and delete your tasks.

Sortd-for-Gmail-Trello-Boards-Gmail-Default

How Does Sortd Work?

Sortd lists all of your emails in a single pane on the left, with boards taking up space on the right. Here’s what you can do with it:

  • Drag and drop emails to any task board
  • Reorder and rearrange emails with the same drag and drop action
  • Change the subject of emails for clearer understanding
  • Add new items manually to any task board
  • Group emails into a single task
  • Rename lists
  • Add new lists

Sortd-for-Gmail-Right-Click-Options

  • Mark any item as Done, Archived, Dismissed or highlight it with a colour.
  • Click any email and you will be able to view it in a preview (overlaying the boards). You’ll need to dismiss the preview to access your task board again.
  • In preview mode, mark an email as Done
  • In preview mode, add notes to an email
  • Snooze emails to organise and get through your tasks
  • View a summary of Sortd as a sidebar in Gmail

Tips To Use Gmail Productively With Sortd

Sortd-for-Gmail-Productivity-Task-Boards

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With the number of features, you might be tempted to fiddle around with Sortd a bit too much. Don’t get lost in productivity porn. You need to stop organising and start doing Stop Organizing, Start Working: 3 Simple To-Do Apps To Speed Up Your Workflow Stop Organizing, Start Working: 3 Simple To-Do Apps To Speed Up Your Workflow Are you a list lover? Stop using your to-do list as yet another excuse to procrastinate. Switch to a minimal task management system and focus on getting things done. Read More , so we have a few tips on how to arrange your task boards.

  1. Make a Task Board titled “Today”. Every morning, go through your inbox and add important emails that need to be acted upon today.
  2. Similarly, have another task board titled “Later”. If an email needs to be addressed tomorrow or in a few days, add it to “Later” and change the subject to the date and day it needs to be tackled. When that date comes, add it to your “Today” board.
  3. Make a Task Board titled “To-Do”, and add odd jobs and small tasks there. These should be time-insensitive items, which you can tackle whenever you get a chance to do them.
  4. Make a Task Board titled “Finished”. Whenever you’re done with a task, shift it to this task board. Trust me, nothing is as soothing for the soul as seeing what you have achieved today!
  5. Revisit your Task Boards periodically and make changes to the above recommendations as you see fit.

Where Sortd Falls Short

Sortd-for-Gmail-Sidebar-in-Gmail

Sortd is great, but it still could use a few improvements. For starters, it lacks reminders and alarms, which are super-important for organising tasks. You also can’t share a copy of your task lists, which would be useful for those working in teams—admittedly, this isn’t a big concern but it would be a nice feature to have.

My bigger problem with Sortd is that it only works with one Gmail account at a time. So if you use Gmail’s multi-account login for your personal and professional email IDs, you can only choose to have Sortd running in one at a time.

How To Install Sortd for Chrome

If you head to the official Sortd website, you can sign up to be an early user. However, there’s a neat workaround to get Sortd right now.

Just head over to the Google Chrome Extension page for Sortd and install it using the signup code MAKEUSEOF. In a minute, you’ll be up and running, ready to make your Gmail more productive. While you’re at it, there are some other great Chrome extensions for Gmail 11 Chrome Extensions That Will Super-Power Your Gmail Experience 11 Chrome Extensions That Will Super-Power Your Gmail Experience Google makes the Chrome browser and Google makes Gmail. Naturally, you have some great Chrome extensions to make your Gmail experience better. Read More that you should check out.

If you have installed the previous Chrome version, please uninstall it before downloading the new Sortd extension. The new version adds support for multiple accounts and lets you assign due dates, although there are no reminders at the moment. The Sortd developers say that is coming in an update soon.

If you use Gmail, we’re interested in knowing how you make it more productive. Do you have any favourite extensions or tricks that help you get more work done with Google’s email app? Do you use something like the new Inbox by Gmail to make it better? Share your success story in the comments below!

  1. Ken Burton
    June 13, 2016 at 6:23 pm

    This is the app I have been looking for to simply integrate email & to-do list!

  2. Bunny White
    June 18, 2015 at 6:44 am

    I feel like I've just won the email lottery!!! Thank you so much for writing about this! Things were looking so bleak in my latest search for a better way to email, and then this suddenly and yet quietly was there.

    I've been thinking "How is the internet not exploding with excitement about this?!!!" Maybe it just fits the way I like to work, I dunno, but either way I'm SOOOOO grateful that this exists and I can use it right now to fix a number of functional issues I have with email.

    I really feel like I can relax a lot on the email issue now and that means so much to me.

  3. larry
    May 25, 2015 at 3:42 am

    ugh. found this thread/site and tried the MAKEUSEOF code and....nope. nothing either. guess i have to wait.

    • Mihir Patkar
      May 25, 2015 at 10:27 am

      Sorry, it's no longer valid. It was active only at the time of publishing this article, which was back in 2014.

    • Bunny White
      June 18, 2015 at 6:46 am

      I got it using the Chrome extension without the need for any code. It worked right away.

    • Matthew Tortoriello
      September 22, 2015 at 12:23 am

      I just tried that. Still ask me for code or to sign in

  4. ana
    May 6, 2015 at 11:18 pm

    The code doesn't work =S!!!!

    • Mihir Patkar
      May 25, 2015 at 10:04 am

      Sorry, it's no longer valid. It was active only at the time of publishing this article, which was back in 2014.

  5. Mihir Patkar
    December 5, 2014 at 10:16 am

    Yup! Zero issues with Google Apps for Business

  6. Sandy
    November 27, 2014 at 3:27 am

    Sounds interesting! Does it work with Google Apps for Business version of gmail?

  7. R Amado
    November 22, 2014 at 6:58 pm

    Very nice tip. Thanks!
    How can I assign a Sortd Task Board to a Gmail category, so it organizes both at the same time?
    For example, in the "Finished" or "Done" task board, after I remove an email from my Gmail Inbox, how can I assign a Gmail Category (e.g. Shopping, Work, Family) and archive it, so my Inbox gets clean?
    Thank you!

    • Mihir Patkar
      December 5, 2014 at 10:16 am

      I don't think there's a way to do that, sorry! But if you discover how to, I'd be grateful if you could share :)

  8. Ankur
    November 21, 2014 at 9:50 am

    Any ideas how I can access my chatbox which has disappeared when I activated Sortd?

    • Mihir Patkar
      November 23, 2014 at 1:45 pm

      You were using the Labs feature to pin chat to the right sidebar? If yes, then disable Sortd sidebar. Sorry, can't have both sidebars, you need to choose between them :)

  9. Guy
    November 20, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    "Don’t get lost in productivity porn. "

    Mihir, that is a brilliant line! My brother refers to it as Analysis Paralysis. Of which I am almost always guilty.

    Gonna have to try Sortd. Thanks for the info!

    • Mihir Patkar
      November 23, 2014 at 1:44 pm

      Haha thanks Guy! Please ask your brother if I can steal Analysis Paralysis in the future :D

    • Guy
      November 24, 2014 at 12:41 pm

      I'm pretty sure he picked that up in his business course, so it's probably fair game.

  10. Sam Le Marnais
    November 20, 2014 at 1:58 pm

    Could you try to add a "Privacy Policy" paragraph in such article, please?
    I'm a bit concerned by privacy as if I use it, it would be for work.
    Obviously, I will read the privacy policy by myself, but would be great if you could add it in your next articles about tool which access personal data.
    Thanks anyway for your work and to have brought this tool to us!

    • dragonmouth
      November 21, 2014 at 3:11 pm

      If you are concerned about privacy, do not use any Google products. They all collect data on you and your emails.

  11. Gary
    November 20, 2014 at 10:23 am

    I live in Firefox. Chrome can't match the functionality of Firefox extensions. Hope they produce a Firefox version because this looks very interesting.

    • Mihir Patkar
      November 20, 2014 at 11:48 am

      Lots of Firefox users out here are hoping for the same, Gary! Maybe try emailing them a request?

  12. Ankush
    November 20, 2014 at 9:07 am

    Use Inbox by gmail! Everything is "SORTED"

    • Mihir Patkar
      November 20, 2014 at 11:48 am

      Inbox is great, Sortd is great. Doesn't have to be one better than the other :) Different strokes for different folks.

  13. Lena R
    November 20, 2014 at 8:18 am

    ... And, a final request for today: the checkboxes that appear when emails display in the Inbox don't seem to be very useful. The only thing I can do once I select more than one email is archive, which I could easily to by archiving each individually instead of checking the box. Would be fantastic if options to mass move or mass label all checked emails were offered. Thanks!

  14. Lena R
    November 20, 2014 at 7:49 am

    I was wrong in saying that only the primary inbox gets displayed -- you can select which tabs display in the Sortd inbox. Just click on the faint outline of a V next to the Inbox and you can select any inbox or any label loads into the Sortd inbox, and process to add to your board. VERY COOL!

  15. WEC
    November 20, 2014 at 7:42 am

    Streak (streak.com/) is another extension that helps you get more work done with Google’s email app, but I am also happy with the standard Gmail user interface.

  16. Lena R
    November 20, 2014 at 7:22 am

    Sortd, where have you been for the past several years? I love this interface -- it's gotten me unstuck from processing many emails with embedded actions. It's so easy to rename the email to a to-do action that makes sense, and I prefer to see things in table form than as lists.

    One improvement I'd like to see: to be able to close the preview window without having to mouse all the way to the top right, then back again to the inbox. I have a large monitor and that's many miles I need the poor mouse to travel, over and over again. A keyboard shortcut would be ideal. Or a "close window" icon next to the email's date. Likewise, the "move" icon could also be closer to the label names that open up on the left.

    What this [excellent, thank you, Mihir!] article doesn't mention is that if you use the gmail tabs "social / promotions / updates / forums," these don't automatically get imported into the Sortd Inbox. That's good, because it's less clutter to deal with, and not limiting because you can still use Sortd in the Gmail view. Just open the email and click on the red To Do checkmark that you'll now see in your regular Gmail view. The names of your columns are offered as options, and the email is placed under the column you designate. (This feature also works for the Primary inbox, which has given me some respite from the mouse dragging I mentioned above.)

    • Mihir Patkar
      November 20, 2014 at 11:48 am

      Ah, I don't use the Priority inbox and other tabs, thanks for noting how to use those in Sortd, Lena!

  17. Pat Pughe-Parry
    November 20, 2014 at 6:44 am

    It is just a pity that I have stopped using Chrome as it chews the memory on our computers. I have gone over to Firefox.

    • Mihir Patkar
      November 20, 2014 at 10:02 am

      I switch between the two, but yeah, extensions are making me stay with Chrome longer now.

  18. Thomas Stachelski
    November 20, 2014 at 6:36 am

    Is there something like this for Firefox? Are the developers working on a Firefox version?

  19. Paul
    November 20, 2014 at 4:22 am

    I like Inbox's features but find it a bit difficult to navigate around. Too many colours and a cluttered look.
    I like the gmail interface but am terribly frustrated that you can't customise the tabs.
    Could be that Sortd will be a good fix for me.

    • Mihir Patkar
      November 20, 2014 at 10:03 am

      Try it out! Personally, I prefer this to Inbox. Same issue as you, too many colours and clutter.

  20. Tinkicker
    November 20, 2014 at 1:21 am

    Playing around, I realized that (for my purposes, at least) the far left pane where emails appear is actually redundant. The mails could simply land in the To Do column straight away, and be handled from there. Every mail you'll ever get qualifies as a "To Do".

    • Mihir Patkar
      November 20, 2014 at 10:02 am

      I use the panel while sorting the emails. Not every email I get qualifies as a to-do for me :)

  21. javier
    November 19, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    This addon grabbed my attention and got exited because I have no way of following up on emails sent but to go to the Sent button, but when I tried to include in followups list emails that I had sent, I could not find a way to do it. I want to follow up on email I originated,

    If someone has a solution, please let me know, I will be coming around to see any answers here and contact Sortd whom already sent me a welcome email

  22. K
    November 19, 2014 at 8:37 am

    The dragging has bugs - seems like it would get the wrong email as ID to link to the to do /lists...

    • Mihir Patkar
      November 19, 2014 at 11:31 am

      Hmmm I haven't noticed that yet. The good news is that Sortd's developers are reading this thread, so hopefully they'll take your feedback on board :)

  23. Umberto
    November 19, 2014 at 7:55 am

    Have you ever checked the new google baby? it's called Inbox by Gmail, it's both an app available at the store and a website for desktop browsing (inbox.google.com) It gives these features plus a lot more!
    It is by invitation only at the moment, but access can be requested via a simple mail

    • Mihir Patkar
      November 19, 2014 at 11:32 am

      I've been using Inbox and I prefer this. Not slighting Inbox in any way, it's a great app, just a matter of preferences :)

      The reason I like Sortd is because I like Gmail the way it is. What Sortd does is give me a new interface within Gmail itself. It's not another tab, it's not a different inbox/app. It's integrated with Gmail in the regular Gmail itself. I know it seems like a small thing, but it makes a big difference for me in how I use my inbox.

  24. Dann Albright
    November 19, 2014 at 7:34 am

    Interesting to see the shift towards task-list-like apps for email; Mailbox and Inbox both come to mind. I've come to like Trello a lot, though, so this definitely appeals to me. Might have to give it a shot!

    • Mihir Patkar
      November 19, 2014 at 11:27 am

      Duu eeet! I have to admit, I was skeptical at first, but I've been using it for a good 3 weeks now and colour me impressed. I don't use it for EVERYTHING, but it's great for sorting out a daily email to-do list as well as sorting those "what needs to be addressed/what's done" lists.

    • Mihir Patkar
      November 19, 2014 at 3:39 pm

      Do it! Honestly, I'm surprised by how much I'm liking it. It's not essential to the Gmail experience, but it's a great tool to boost it.

    • Dann Albright
      November 20, 2014 at 1:40 pm

      Alright, I'll give it a shot. Though if I like it, I'm going to be slightly irritated, as I just spent quite a bit of time testing desktop clients to see which works best for my way of working with Gmail. :-)

    • Mihir Patkar
      November 20, 2014 at 2:39 pm

      Haha irritating you is why I write these things, Dann :D

  25. SpoonmanWoS
    November 18, 2014 at 7:03 pm

    Hmmm...interesting. Does it use native tagging to organize tasks into the different categories. If that's the case, wonder if you can't use IFTTT to hack together reminders into this.

    • Mihir Patkar
      November 19, 2014 at 11:26 am

      Naah, not native tagging at the moment afaik, so IFTTT won't work.

    • Mihir Patkar
      November 19, 2014 at 3:39 pm

      Not native tagging, afaik. So IFTTT won't work.

    • Sam
      November 24, 2014 at 5:10 pm

      Nice article Mihir. Great to see the 'emails-as-tasks' subject catching on. ActiveInbox is the bee's knees when it comes to Gmail extensions doing this kind of thing - for my workflow at least. Have you come across it?

      Uses standard Gmail labels also, so it's cross compatible with loads of apps like Mailbox and IFTTT...

      I think Inbox by Google is pretty limited in terms of it's task management capabilities - been trying it for a few weeks now.

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