7 Tips to Make Gmail WORK for You

7 Tips to Make Gmail Work For You #AdriansCrazyLife I get a TON of Emails, so I have learned to be extremely organized about managing them and trying to keep my inbox under control.

I don’t know about you, but I get a LOT of email. I am the Email Queen and I do just about everything I possibly can via Email!  So, between work and my personal account, I probably get a couple of hundred Emails every single day.  Keeping your sanity under those conditions takes some careful planning and organization.

At work I use Outlook, which is great and has a lot of built-in tools, but at home, I use Gmail. That seems to be about the most popular of the freebie Email services. It’s a great tool, but it does take some work to understand and to set up efficiently.  And with my crazy life, I have to be very efficient or I would just drown!

1.  Filters  The most helpful Gmail tool I use is the filters. They are very easy to set up and are very powerful. I have many filters I’ve set up to classify different categories of Emails:  Emails from close friends and relatives are set up with a color-coded Priority tag.  Scouting tasks have a Scout tag, blogging Emails (lots of those) have a tag, etc.  Here is why it is helpful to take the time to set up these automatic filters

  • You can tell at a glance what is in your Inbox
  • It’s easy to see what is urgent and what is not.  You can even set different filters to “float” to the top of your inbox – for instance Overdraft notices or bank notifications.
  • It makes it very easy to Archive or Delete whole categories of Emails at one time.
  • Note that when you click Archive on a labeled Email, it automatically shifts it into the appropriately labeled folder.

How to set up filters – let’s say you get Emails from your child’s school.  You click on just one Email from the school and across the top are some buttons – the last one will say More.  Under that is a choice that says Filter Emails Like These.  You click on that, and it will bring up a list of all the other Emails from the school that are currently in your mailbox.  It brings up a screen that has the address the Email comes from and a few other choices.

At the bottom, it says Create a Filter with this Search.  About midway is a choice that says Apply the Label and a box to enter a Label (think of a label as a folder name).   You click that box, enter a label of School and make any other choices – Always Mark as Important, Skip the Inbox, Star It, or Delete It – whatever you want to happen when new Emails come in.  Then at the bottom, it says Apply this setting to XX other Emails.  Click Create Filter and you are done!  Now every Email from the school will automatically be handled the same way.

Here is a YouTube video that shows you how to set up your own Labels – .

2.  Skip the Inbox.  This is another filter option.  It’s great for newsletters and things I want to read, but they aren’t time-sensitive. It pops them directly into a folder and I can read them when I have time.

3.  Email Bankruptcy.  This is the nuclear option when you are just at your wit’s end.  No, it’s not the most efficient solution, but it does work when you are super buried.  I call myself a digital hoarder so I just take everything and I dump it all into a folder called Email Bankruptcy. Sometimes it’s a couple of thousand Emails (how embarrassing is that?) That way I can use the search function to find any Emails I might actually need.  But I’m not slogging through piles of Email daily and feeling guilty about it.

4.  Priority Inbox – Gmail has a new feature that I love called Priority Inbox. Based on which Emails you read and respond to the most, it puts those messages at the top of your Inbox and puts the rest of them further down the page. There are buttons to specify what you feel is Priority and what isn’t so you can set it up however you want. I’ve only had it for a week or so, but I’m finding it very helpful.  Note that I have not yet moved into the whole tabbed mailbox system yet – I’m not a big fan of change, especially when it comes to my Gmail.

5.  Stars – The other feature I use a lot is Stars. I can’t always act on things right away, so I add a Star my “to-do” items so I don’t forget them.  All my starred items go a special spot right below my Priority items.  Then when I’m ready to work, I can just go to my starred items and dig in.  See, I almost sound organized now!

6.  Task List – You can also create tasks directly from your Emails.  I don’t use their task lists, so I’m not all that familiar with it, but it’s available.

7.  Unroll.Me – I saved the best for last.  My favorite tip is a service I’ve found called Unroll.me. They take all your semi-junk Emails and it puts them all into a folder.  Then it sends you a daily summary. It’s free and it really simplifies life, especially for all those Pinterest, Groupon, and shopping Emails.  I love it most for shopping Emails.  When I’m in the mood for shopping, I can search them Emails for coupon codes.  But I don’t have to deal with the daily temptation of all the sale Emails.

What is your best Gmail organization tip?


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Comments

  1. I’m going to have to look into Unroll.Me. I haven’t heard of that one before, but it sounds like something I could use 🙂

    Hi from #sitsblogging

    • I hope it helps you. Email does pile up when you aren’t paying attention. I cleared out my inbox just last week and I was already up to 80 unreal messages today – sigh. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Boy, did I need this. I had no idea you could do all of that!

  3. Some great tips and I may try a couple. With 3 businesses I find that the easiest way for me to keep track is to have different addresses to sort them all. Although I get hundreds a day, this has worked great i.e. one address will be for blog posts I want to read, etc.

    • I’ve thought about doing that too, but at this point my Email is plastered all over the interwebs! Thanks for stopping by.

  4. I like the new tabs in gmail. I can sort my email so much easier and can tackle my email in categories. I like the star option, too, because I have a tendency to forget the important emails I need to address. That option keeps them in all my tabs so I don’t forget. Thanks for sharing your tips at Inspire Me Mondays!

    • That’s great. I’ve been a little nervous about switching to tabs because it seems to be a one-way switch. I’m glad you are saying they work well. Maybe I’ll get brave and make the switch.

  5. I like the idea of declaring email bankruptcy. I have a “misc. and junk mail” account and it just seems like I can never get it down to 0. I signed up for unroll.me a few weeks ago and it’s helped a bit. My personal email is fine thankfully.

    Nice tips!

    • Yes, Unroll.me has been very helpful for me, although usually it just gives me permission to ignore messages I don’t really want, but can’t quite let go of. I read through my digest maybe twice a week and I’ve unsubscribed from a lot, but there are some subscriptions I really do enjoy. I have a couple of fashion ones, some finance ones, etc. that I find very helpful.

  6. p.s I shall definitely be checking out the rest of your blog, subscribed now 🙂

  7. Seriously I wish I’d read your post last week! I was trawling through my 2000+ emails trying to sort them out and unsubscribe to ones I really didn’t need. But your post is going to save me so much time and be more organised (even just a little bit) with my emails. Going through them I realised I’d missed some that I wish I hadn’t but with filters I can hopefully avoid this happening. Thank you so much!!!!

    Brilliant and helpful post. RT/pinned etc, lots of people could do with this advice I’m sure!

    Kate 🙂

    Over from #SITSBlogging

    • That’s exactly why I write posts like this. I just love to help make other people’s lives easier! I hope this helps you and your mates. Thanks for sharing and I’m so pleased you’ve signed up as a subscriber!

  8. I never thought of setting up filters and organizing my Gmail. I use the mac mail system and wonder if it will work with gmail to filter on the computer, too. Thanks.

    • I’m not too experienced with Macs, but I bet it would. You could always try it. When you get as many Emails as I do, you need some kind of help. Hope this gives you some good ideas.

  9. Visiting from SITS Sharefest. Thank you so much for these tips!! I’m going to save this post because I have way too much email every day and I need to figure out the way to organize it all. Have a fabulous Easter weekend! Stacie xo

  10. I use the color coded stars too and find them very helpful. I also have a separte email for Pinterest, Twitter and contests so that I do not have to see all of those emails every day. I will have to check out Unroll.me soon!

  11. These are great ideas! The only one I use currently are the stars but I’m going to make a shopping folder tonight for sure. Thanks for these tips, they wil really come in handy to help get me organized!

  12. That is probably the one part of my life that I feel super organized in… EMAIL. I keep my inbox down to 0 consistently and utilize folders and the starring in gmail. For once I don’t feel like an organizational loser. LOL

  13. Thanks for the great GMail tips. I’m definitely going to go set up my filters. I’m a member of your Monkey Tribe from the SITS girls. Can’t wait to get to know you.

  14. I still use Hotmail, but I’ve managed to organize it similarly with a couple of special folders.

    I’ve named one Leisure for stuff I want to read, but don’t have to deal with right away. Then I have another folder named News for all those headlines I’ve signed up for (though I’m liking Twitter more and more for news). I’ve set up rules for these folders so stuff goes into them automatically.

    Whatever is left in my inbox is my priority stuff, and I use a method similar to David Allen’s GTD system: Deal with it, Delegate it, Date it for later, or Delete it. So far, I’m down to a 5 minute process time and loving it!

  15. Gmail does have a goos system especially with the priority inbox mail and such…
    How’s life in YOUR blogging world?
    🙂
    How’s that perm working out for you?
    You look good….BTW. 😉 I always liked curls for my hair too.

  16. Great tips! They’ll be helpful for cleaning up my gmail, which I have only because it’s necessary for various reasons. Maybe now I’ll use it more often.

    Stopping by from the monkey tribe. Nice to meet you!

  17. Wow is all I can say- I wish I could set up something like this with my apple me acct. Maybe when life slows down, I will look into it. This is a treasure of a post- look forward to Mondays for the decluttering 😉

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