How I Finally Organized My Messy Inbox With Sortd

I’ve tried dozens of solutions for cleaning your mail box, and so far the expansion Sortd the Chrome closest helps me to use and organize email in my style of work. Sortd turns Gmail into a drag-and-drop workspace with custom list columns. It’s like the Trello web app for organizing life , but for email.

Sortd works for me because it matches the way I think and want to access information: visually and as lists. Like everyone else, my problem with email is that I have too much of it, and I struggled to figure out what action to take, what to keep, and what to discard immediately. Sortd has been a huge help for two reasons: it has a killer user interface and it brings useful task management features to Gmail.

Organize important emails visually

Rather than tagging or flagging emails and then reading them in one long list, Sortd lets you organize your most important emails in a single dashboard. Drag and drop emails into, for example, the Tasks column or the Follow-up column, and you can see at a glance what you are working on (or waiting for).

Basically, it’s similar to the Getting Things Done (GTD) -based email organization structure that I discovered two years ago. In this system, you assign flags to different categories of email messages (for example, “action required” or “pending response”). You can then use Gmail’s Multiple Inbox View to see all of the flagged emails in the column to the right of your main inbox. I found this works well, but only for a limited number of messages, and unless you are using a wide browser window, both your inbox and flagged emails are difficult to understand at a glance. For example, here’s how Gmail searched for me before:

And this is a cleaner and better organized sort of Sortd:

There are also tons of settings. You can add additional lists, rename default lists, change the checkmark icon, and drag and drop lists to change their order. I have lists of things that I have to act on, questions that I am waiting for an answer, emails that I need to refer to for my current projects, a list that may be / someday (which I probably never get there), and shopping / bargain list. Perhaps what I like best about this system is that I don’t have to worry about tagging individual messages, which can take a long time and get out of hand. The most important categories are my columns.

However, you are not limited to just using the Sortd view. The small button on the right side of the window toggles between the normal Sortd and Gmail views. And when you switch to Gmail view mode, you can still access the Sortd columns.

This means you have quick access to emails that you have assigned as tasks or saved in a different category of lists, as you normally would with Gmail. This is the best of both worlds, although I prefer the column view.

Turn your emails into tasks or reminders

Philosophically, I agree with the opinion that email is a bad task manager . We’d rather have one to-do list than scatter them across different programs. However, we all receive emails that we need to act on, and Sortd addresses the ineffectiveness of emails as a to-do by adding task-management features that Gmail currently lacks. (Some of these are available in your Google Inbox, which some other life hackers like . However, the Inbox does not have an organizational view above and some of the functionality below.)

Check Emails Completed: Any emails you drag into columns are marked with a check mark so you can quickly mark them as complete. They can either remain on your list, or you can hide (archive) these completed messages from view. If you want to see all your completed posts / tasks, there is a filter for that too.

Change the subject line to the names of the tasks requiring action: By dragging the email into the column, you can keep the subject line or give it a more meaningful name . This means that when you look at your emails, you will not be contacted by extraneous information, and you can avoid vague task names that only hinder your productivity.

Add reminders and notes: For each email, you can create a reminder and receive desktop notifications when these emails need to be acted upon. There is also a notes section to clarify any email.

Add Your Own Tasks: Tasks in Sortd don’t have to come solely from your email messages. Click the plus sign at the bottom of the column list and create your task. Or, you can only highlight a column for non-email tasks (such as a shopping list or ideas for your next project).

View emails by reminder date: In Date View, lists are reordered by Today, Tomorrow, and Coming Soon categories. Again, you can add tasks to these columns that are not related to your emails.

Flexible work with items: you can drag items up or down in the lists to change their priorities, highlight messages in different colors, and also group messages into one task. These are pretty much all the features you need in Task Manager when combined with your inbox.

Sortd is still in beta testing (but we have invitations!)

Sortd is still in beta by invitation only (but we have invitations below!), So it’s not perfect. There is more that the team is working on and debugging.

When I open the Gmail tab, it takes a few seconds to load as Sortd applies its skin (during this time, you can switch between Gmail and Sortd). Also, when I first installed Sortd, I crashed Chrome and had to restart it. I can’t be sure what the extension was doing, but disabling and then re-enabling Sortd seemed to fix the problem. While searching by label or other criteria in Sortd works the same as in Gmail, I would like to make it easier to select all emails in the inbox (there is no “Select All” checkbox). What is your biggest problem at the moment? Sorting emails does not provide the same thorough results as Gmail. The developers note that they are using the Gmail API, so technically the results should be the same, but the API is new and should improve over time. (For now, you can switch to browsing Gmail for search.)

There is also no mobile app, but in mobile Gmail you can add a Sortd tag to the message and it will be automatically added to your list. (This feature is still in beta and is currently working or disappearing.) Update: There is a mobile app (more like a companion for now) that is also in beta. You can subscribe to it by email at

In general, Sortd suited me perfectly in the way I like to work – visually. I know some people like to use labels and asterisks to organize their messages, and Gmail’s Inbox has great task management features, but I love Sortd’s clean and concise look at emails turned into tasks.

The first 20,000 readers who use the link below can try Sortd out on their own (or you can use the invite code 8J5D3 if you download the extension directly from the Chrome Web Store ). Let us know what you think about it.



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