Not much. Always something. Mostly good.

New Gmail Likes and Dislikes

I like the new Gmail. Others have already written about the new features (snoozing emails, etc), and I admit I don't use those. For those who are worried about the change, here's my quick two cents.


  • Good-looking dark theme
  • Right sidebar with Calender and Keep is useful
  • Left sidebar can be collapsed. Love this!
  • I previously always used Compact display density. Now I'm using Comfortable because I like seeing the email attachment links/titles, and I keep my Inbox pretty clean.
  • Mark All as Read


  • I wish the left sidebar didn't auto-expand when hovered over
  • Google Keep right sidebar app doesn't allow reordering of list items. Grrr.


  • Tasks looks prettier than before, but doesn't really have better features. And it doesn't fit the way I work, because I need to rapidly copy sets of tasks elsewhere. I can do that with Keep. But I think it'll be a good app for many people, especially now that there's a mobile version.


The Keep sidebar app puts completed list items in a Completed area at the bottom. Why can't I have this feature in Keep? Several years ago, Google removed some per-list settings, including where checked items appeared. I wrote about this at the time as a step backwards.

How to Handle Backlog Overload: Dump It

A couple of years ago I realized the older I was getting, the more stressed I was becoming about my backlog. Subjectively, I wanted to do everything on my list. Objectively, it was impossible. Even if I happened across Shangri-La and lived an extra hundred years, it was a steep challenge.

You see, my backlog is currently eleven pages long. It's divided into these categories.

Health and Fitness
- Karate
- Fencing
- Other
- Food
Learning and Self-Improvement
- Apps
- Job Hunt
- To Try/Use
- Security
- Misc
- Titles
- Prompts, Other
- About Writing/Inspiration
To Read
To Watch
To Organize

In Getting Things Done (GTD), it's OK to have a Someday/Maybe list, where dreams go to slowly decay. I had several of these lists, in Google Docs, Google Keep, physical notebooks, and elsewhere.

I also collected web site bookmarks. If it was interesting, and I didn't read it then, I'd bookmark it. You can imagine. Every few months I'd discover I had a hundred bookmarks--a couple of week's worth of full-time reading (let alone comprehension). I'd beat myself up for being a lazy ass.

Things finally came to a head when one day I couldn't work because I was overwhelmed by all the bookmarks in front of me. I couldn't do them. I couldn't delete them. I couldn't look at them.

What was I going to do?

The Pomodoro Technique suggests writing down your distractions while keeping focused on the task at hand, and dealing with them later. I asked myself a simple question:

What if I treated my backlog and bookmarks as distractions?

Could I daily throw everything into a grotesque backlog that I didn't look at until Sunday? Would it be OK with me to archive my bookmarks--knowing I could find the info--and start fresh each week?

That's what I did, and still do with some tweaks. Want to try it yourself?

The Process

1. Collect all your backlog items ("someday I might do this") into one place.

I wrote everything in a Google Write document. I then recited this...

"Dude, it's perfectly OK if you never do any of this. It'll always be here for you to come back to."

2. Make it easy to jot down backlog items during the day.

I use Google Keep for this. I have a note called "Backlog Dump," and I just write down whatever it is that's distracted me at the moment and leave it completely alone until the end of the week. I tell myself,

"You'll most likely delete these, because they won't be so shiny anymore."

3. Export all your bookmarks...

  1. In Google Chrome, open the Bookmark Manager
  2. Export bookmarks
  3. Put the file in a computer folder such as Bookmark Archives, and name it so it will sort alphabetically, e.g. "20180424 Chrome.html"

"It's like your own little Google."

4. ...then delete them
This was when I knew I was doing the right thing. I deleted all my bookmarks--I had them saved, after all. Then I created two--yes, two!--folders:

  • Quick
  • Backlog

The Quick folder had a few links I knew I'd need to check almost every day. The Backlog folder held anything that distracted me. I could just drag and drop into it my Keep note...forget about them. (I could also use this for temporary bookmarks).

"You rarely need to keep a web site bookmark, because you almost always search for the site again next time. Besides, by searching, you might find something new and better."

5. Every week, without fail, purge
Every Sunday, I take a couple of hours and do a weekly update/review. For my Backlog Dump, I decide if I really might someday do whatever it is. If so, I move the item to my true backlog document. If not, I delete it.

For the bookmarks, I export, then go through each backlog link and decide if I'm going to read it right then. Do I care enough? If not, I delete it or maybe let myself hold onto it another week or two...but I can't have more than ten backlog links at the beginning of any week.

"It's OK to not save this stuff. If you're really interested, you'll find it again."

What Am I Doing Now?

Pretty much the same thing. After a year, I found I could keep a small number of bookmark folders always available. I still purge most of what I collect each week. I empty my Backlog Dump each week.

And I actually do some of the things I set aside, because I no longer feel I have to do all of it.

Dump It, You'll Like It

Don't let your backlog control you. It's like storing up all those odds and ends thinking you'll use them some day, then you can't get your car in the garage. The method above lets you "throw them away" from your daily life without losing them forever. I think it's a good compromise. It has certainly dropped a boulder of guilt from my shoulders.

A Brilliant Google Keep Tip Using Labels and Archive

The Admission and the Issues

First, there's a confession in this on to find it.

I like Google Keep, and use it for my daily task list, grocery lists, and some other useful notes I'd rather not store in Drive or elsewhere.

Keep has a few flaws. One I've written about extensively, when Google changed some checkbox behaviors to be global instead of per-list. Two others, the subject of this post, are:

  1. Notes can only be rearranged in the "Notes" area, not in Labels.
  2. By default, all labeled notes appear in the "Notes" area.

The Examples

Here are three notes in my Notes area. I can move these around in either Grid or List view.

If I switch to my Groceries label, I can't arrange the notes.

Now, as noted, the order of notes can be controlled in Notes. But unless you're in List view, it's really easy to mess up your other notes.

Now, that's just one of those things, so, fine, I can switch to List view as needed. But this leads to another issue. How many of you have more than twenty or thirty notes? Labeling is great, but by default all those labeled notes appear in the Notes area. What I want is to have my four or five daily notes in their own area and easy to rearrange, and my other notes only appear in their label areas.

I have a couple of options:

  1. Create a Daily label, and only switch to Notes when I need to reorder things. This becomes unwieldly and frustrating quickly.
  2. Only show my daily notes in Notes, and still be able to rearrange my labeled notes on occasion.

Now, for the confession and shout out.

It's my wife who came up with this brilliant solution. Because...she's brilliant!

The Solution: Archive Labeled Posts

It's really that simple. An archived post still appears in its labeled area, but does not appear in Notes.

Archive both of the grocery lists.

They'll no longer appear on the Notes page, but they still appear in the Groceries area.

On the rare occasion I need to reorder my grocery lists, I can Unarchive them, change their order, and rearchive.

The Wrap Up

This is not an ideal solution. I'd like to be able to order my labeled notes in their areas, and I'll bet for many people not being able to do so is a Keep dealbreaker. But for me--and maybe you--this simple (and brilliant!) tip will help keep Keep clean.