Gmail Tips and Tricks: Hack Your Way to Inbox Zero
There is a ton of buzz surrounding the phrase “Inbox Zero” and how achieving it brings nothing but organizational and email management bliss. Funny thing is, not many posts out there explain how to get to Inbox Zero. We’re talking tactics here.
In this post, I’ll give you my best Gmail tips and tricks for conquering your inbox and even recommend a couple of cool tools to help keep your inbox exactly the way it should be – clean, easy to digest, and above all – organized.
st–tech Gmail Tips and Tricks
Now my first inbox goal came about a few weeks after starting a new work position. Due to the sheer velocity and volume of the incoming messages I received per day, the rising notifications and constant alerts became a serious distraction!
So, I jumped into action – digging into Gmail filters and labels as well as hitting the web for Gmail add-ons to boost my productivity. I receive something like 500 emails/day (and that’s just on one email account!) My first step to organize this massive number? Establish detailed goals for work emails. Here’s what I came up with:
- Goal: Gain control over incoming emails.
- Strategy: Prioritize and categorize emails by level of importance.
- Create filter rules that archive/mark as read unimportant emails.
- Label messages by project type using filter rules.
- Pause incoming messages at will to improve task focus.
USING GMAIL FILTERS TO TACKLE YOUR EMAILS
There are several ways to filter messages in your inbox. The easiest way, again, depends on your email goals. Do you want to filter 2 or 3 types of emails from a certain email address? Or 20+ different types of emails depending on specific content criteria?
My goal is to filter 2 or 3 types of emails from a certain email address:
- In the search box, click the Down arrow.
- Enter your search criteria, then click Create filter with this search.
- Check Apply the label and choose a label to automatically sort incoming messages fitting your search criteria.
- If you’d like messages fitting your search criteria to be automatically moved out of your Inbox, but want to be able to access them later, check Skip the Inbox (Archive it).
- Click Create filter.
My goal is to filter 20+ different types of emails depending on specific content criteria:
If it’s the latter, take a different approach and start out by creating filters from the messages you want to filter out. Do this method over time as bulk Gmail filtering isn’t currently supported and it’ll just end up giving you a huge headache getting everything to work right.
Instead, try this:
- Open a recurring or just common email message you receive in your inbox.
- Navigate to the message pane and click on More then select Filter messages like these.
This option allows you to do the same thing as the example above, just pre-populates some of it for you from the email you’re filtering from.
Gmail Tips and Tricks for G Suite Users
Add a word and the + sign before the @ sign in your G Suite email address (such as firstname.lastname@example.org) so you can:
- Sign up for newsletters with email@example.com.
- Let prospective clients or customers contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Allow team members to surface urgent issues in your Inbox by contacting email@example.com.
You can even combine these addresses with filters to automatically label and sort your messages. For instance, filters can automatically archive and apply the News label to all incoming newsletters sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or flag any messages sent to email@example.com.
Feel Like You Need More Email Management Help?
If you’re still not satisfied with your newfound email management skills, give Gmail Labs a try. This hidden gem is a techie’s dream, a home for all of the Gmail add-ons currently being tested by developers.
You can access nifty modifications like the Preview Pane to read mail right next to your inbox so you don’t have to go back and forth to see all of your messages. Another good one here is Right-Side Chat that forces the Hangouts chat to the right of your inbox.
To enable Gmail Labs, navigate to the Settings icon in Gmail and select the tab, “Labs”.
Email Management Tech Reviews + Recommendations to Achieve Inbox Zero
Another tool in my productivity arsenal is Drag, a Chrome extension that turns your inbox into customized lists that you can organize by due date, status, topic, etc. It’s essentially a Trello board for your Gmail.
Ah, Boomerang, the add-on that ended the awkwardness of replying too fast, too slow, not at all to your email messages. In a nutshell, this powerful add-on allows you to take control of when you send and receive email messages.
Scheduling Recurring Messages
The feature I like the most about Boomerang is recurring messages. I use it in order to schedule the kinds of emails that I send at the same time every week, for the same reason, to the same people.
Pausing Incoming Messages
Another favorite from Boomerang is Inbox Pause, the tool to help you focus on tasks and projects rather than on your incoming emails. It free you from constant interruptions but will still notify you about the emails that matter.
Respondable for Gmail
A new rollout from Boomerang is Respondable – an AI-fueled feature that actually helps you construct better emails. It uses Natural Language Processing (NLP) to understand your email and its context, then scores your drafted reply and gives you detailed stats on what you can improve to get the response you’re aiming for.
Regardless of the Gmail tips and tricks, tools and add-ons, or filters and labels you decide to adopt, inbox zero is achievable. Find out what works for you now that you have been equipped with some new tips and tech leads to get there. Now go forth and conquer your Gmail inbox!
We hope this post brought you a few steps closer to achieving Inbox Zero and taking control over your email. Did you try any of these tips? Need some help with filtering? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook.
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