Get organized! You don't need a New Year's Resolution to finally gain control of your email. I've been using Gmail since it was in Beta testing, so to say I'm an avid user is an understatement. Today, I share my tips for organizing your Gmail inbox.
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1. Use labels
I am all about labels. All of my house emails (mortgage payments, cable bills, utilities companies) are sorted into one label, all of my blog emails (PR, social media) are sorted into one label, and all of my freelance work is sorted into another. My filters even go beyond that, but I'm not trying to overwhelm you.
You can easily color code your labels, too, which helps me visually differentiate between email types.
2. Automate your inbox with filters
If you rolled your eyes as I gushed about labels, this one is going to make your life a whole lot easier. You can automatically filter emails in your Gmail inbox by a variety of factors including subject line and sender. Or label!
For example, all of my electric bills come from a single email address. I set up a filter that automatically applies a green "House" label to them. See? Organizing Gmail made easy.
Another way I used this at work was to have certain incoming emails skip my inbox entirely. For example, everyone in the marketing department received fundraiser requests, whether you were the fundraiser coordinator or not. The emails always had a consistent subject line, so I filtered them to archive immediately and skip my inbox.
3. Change your inbox type to "important first"
There's a little bit of machine learning on Gmail's end and a little bit of manual work on your end to really make this feature work well. By default your inbox is designed to display emails in the order in which they were received with new emails at the top. When you change your inbox type to "important first" in Settings on the Inbox tab, Gmail determines which emails should rise to the top.
To get the most out of this feature, you should take advantage of Importance Markers to improve your results. Gmail automatically analyzes your incoming emails to predict what's important, considering how you've interacted with similar emails in the past or how the send addressed the email. This is Google's way of helping you organizing your Gmail. There's more than goes into it, but that's the gist. Gmail has a lot of features they don't explain well, so if you have any questions, let me know.
4. Archive read emails regularly
This one is easy: Just get rid of the clutter. If you've read it and you're done with its contents, hit archive. "Archive" is not the same thing as "delete," so you'll always be able to search and find the email later (especially if you're using labels effectively).
5. Avoid leaving emails marked "unread"
This is a terrible habit of mine, but I've known people who are epically bad at leaving mass amounts of emails unread. I understand the mindset here. I used to leave emails unread when there was a certain action I needed to take to get the email off of my plate (pay a bill, schedule an appointment, read an article). This kind of works... until it doesn't anymore. I perpetually found myself with 90+ unread emails.
Now, I live in my Reminders app and Calendar app on my phone. When I need to set a reminder to pay a bill, in it goes. I've even turned to my Amazon Alexa for reminders!
6. Try Unroll.me to organize your email subscriptions
I've used Unroll.me for probably six years. It's an amazing (and FREE) service that bundles all of your subscription emails (Lume, HostGator, LOFT, Sephora, Urban Decay, ColourPop) into ONE daily digest. You're welcome.
Lorenz Gude says
I'm a 78 year old who reads a lot of philosophy and psychology and find I really prefer to use electronic books where I can highlight quotes I want to use later and email them to Gmail, where I have a rule to Tag Red anything I send from my own Gmail address. I put the author, short title, and page or location in the subject line. Then I can pull all of my quotations together cut and paste them into my paper as a when I need them.
Thanks for getting my Gmail menu back and for the Unroll me tip especially! A big pat to Beta all the way from Perth WA!