Email, calendar, to-do list - oh my!

What do e-mail, calendars, and to-do lists have in common? They all help keep my busy life running smoothly and efficiently. Or they would, if I could only figure out how to combine them in a simple, streamlined interface. So here is my latest attempt to unite my email, calendar, and to-do list in one place for maximum utility and minimal cost... I first discussed Remember the Milk (RTM) in a previous post, but to refresh memories, it's essentially a web-based to-do list. I like to be able to see my to-do items and my upcoming events in one place, so I've been investigating how to combine RTM with Google calendar. And since I set up Google calendar to email me reminders about things, I thought it would be even better to combine RTM, Google calendar, and Gmail into a procrastination-fearing Frankenstein of organizational applications.

Side note: This is possible thanks to some beta features in Gmail. Beta means these features have been released into the wild for testing purposes but could change, break, or disappear at any time. Hey, did I mention they're free?

I started by venturing into my Gmail settings. There is a section in here called Labs that contains a collection of experimental features for Gmail. They are all disabled by default, so like an efficiency ninja, I swooped in and enabled a select few:

  • Right-side chat
  • Right-side labels
  • Google Calendar gadget
  • Add any gadget by URL

The first two features move the Gchat and Labels boxes respectively from the left side of the Gmail interface to the right. This wasn't strictly necessary, but the left side is premium screen real estate (since as English-readers, our eyes are trained to go to the left first), and I'd much rather see my calendar and to-do items there instead.

Enabling Google Calendar gadget adds a Google calendar gadget to the Gmail interface on the left side where Gchat used to reside.

Add any gadget by URL makes it possible to add an RTM gadget beneath the calendar gadget, but it takes one more step to actually add it. Still in Gmail Settings, I went to the Gadgets section and entered the following URL: http://www.rememberthemilk.com/services/modules/gmail/rtm.xml

Now when I access Gmail, I see my Google calendar events and my RTM to-do items on the left, my email in the middle, and Gchat and labels on the right. Zzzap, zzzap, zzzap! IT'S...ALIVE!!!