Posted 08.19.2009

Posted 08.19.2009

Getting Social Media to Work for You (Part 2: Gmail and Google Calendar)

Yesterday, I talked about Evernote and how I love being able to catalog items with it. Today, I’m looking at Gmail + Google Calendar. I’ll admit, it scares me when I think about all the information that Google has on me. They could probably profile me better than most of my friends! But at the end of the day, right, wrong, or indifferent, I continue to entrust pieces (ok chunks) of my life to them.

I’ve experimented with a variety of services:

  • Thunderbird
  • Lotus Notes
  • Apple’s Mail
  • Entourage
  • Outlook Express
  • Mobile Me

I’ve tried a little bit of everything, but at the end of the day it came back to Google. Several reasons.

It’s Free!

You can’t argue with this one. I really would like to buy into Apple’s Mobile Me. It looks great and integrates nicely with all of Apple’s products. However, I struggle to justify $99 / year when Google offers the same services for free ninety-free!

Send + Receive from multiple accounts

I have all my email accounts forwarding to my Gmail account. Not only can I receive Emails from multiple accounts, but I can also reply using those various accounts as well. Plus, there’s a certain assurance that comes with knowing if my computer crashes, I haven’t lost my Email.


I’m part of the GTD cult. When I was using Apple Mail, I tried really hard to keep a folder structure. I even used MailTags. However, emails would pile up in my inbox because I didn’t have/make time to file them properly.

The difference with Gmail is that I have labels set up, but most of them are applied automatically through filtering. (i.e. An email newsletter comes in, automatically marked @Read). I’ll still use @Action or @FollowUp, but the majority of items are simply archived as they’re dealt with. I trust Gmail’s search engine to find the email when I need it.


Syncing is everything—being able to access my calendar at work, home, and on my phone is make or break. I followed the directions on the Self Conclusion blog for setting up Google + iPhone Syncing. I love that it syncs both ways. I add an event on my iPhone calendar and next time I log onto Google calendar it’s there and vice versa.

NOTE: I have yet to sync my contacts because I’ve heard horror stories of Google trying to add every person that’s ever Emailed you to your address book.

Google Gears

Google Gears allows you to access your mail offline.

NOTE: I’ll be honest in my assessment.

  • Recently, I’ve heard complaints about limited features (i.e. not being able to attach files) while offline.
  • I don’t use this feature a lot (ok, at all) because rarely am I away from an internet connection and even then, I have my phone.


More Google Greatness

Better Gmail
Gina Trapani has created a Firefox add on called Better Gmail that does exactly what the name implies: makes Gmail better. Some of my favorite features include:

  • Displaying the unread count within the tab favicon.
  • Changes the attachment icon to reflect the type of attachment (Word document, image, zip, etc.)
  • Add Row Highlights
  • Hide spam count

My friend, Lydia, and I sent off for Google stickers. You can’t beat the color it adds to your keyboard (or the number of questions you get) or the handwritten note (“Enjoy the stickers.”) from the GMail Team.

This concludes Part 2 of my 11 Part Series on how I use a variety of web services:

  • Lens

    This is very good idea. Thank you for the post.

  • Shikai Color Reflect

    I am delighted with the color of the keyboard!! grin