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How to Organize Your Email To Save Time And Boost Productivity

 
ANNACOLIBRI, how to organize email, web presence, tech savvy marketing, values-based marketing

Use Keyboard Shortcuts For Faster And Healthier Email

If anybody had asked me even three years ago if I would be a Power User, I would have said, “no,” if for no other reason than . . . .

I didn’t know what a Power User was.

Times have changed and so have I. Maybe I’m not the most powerful user on the block, but more and more I try to use technology solutions to their fullest in order to save time and boost productivity.

Today I receive over 150 emails per day.

Duh. Email Takes Time

You are probably better at math than I am, but here goes:

30 seconds times 150 emails = 1 hour 15 minutes and that is if each of your emails really only takes 30 seconds to process.

1 hour, minimum, of email per day is a little daunting, to say the least.

The other aspect of it is that when you are dealing with large volumes of email, it is easy to lose the one that says you are in charge of carpooling — today.

And then the other mothers in the carpool get mad at you and the children are stranded in front of the school and turn to crime and . . . .

Well, you get the picture.

Email Has a Solution

I hate to nerd out on you but if you follow these suggestions, you will be able to:

  • Live out your Super Nerd fantasies
  • Organize your Gmail like never before
  • Get faster with Gmail keyboard shortcuts and
  • Avoid turning children into criminals (maybe)

Let’s get started with Gmail labels.

How To Organize Email Using Gmail Labels

You can think of Labels the same way you think of Folders, except that you can have more than one Label for each email. This feature is convenient if, say, you have a friend with whom you are working on project.

You can label that email “Friend” and “Work.”

Here are some Labels to consider:

  • Family
  • Finance
  • Friends
  • Vacation
  • Work

You can also use Labels to rank emails by importance or time sensitivity:

  • To Do
  • Time Sensitive
  • Pending

Use Labels the way you would use a filing system and organize them in a way that makes sense to you.

Here is a Google Tutorial that explains how to create Labels:

https://support.google.com/mail/answer/118708?hl=en

It is a little confusing at first to figure out where the “Label” button is. It looks kind of like a clothes tag:

Gmail Label

 

 

 

Realize, too, that you can custom color your labels.

screenshot of custom colors for Gmail Labels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a newbie Power User, I wish I could import my own hex tags and choose the colors from my website or other custom colors, but you can still have fun with this!

How To Organize Email Using Filters

Once you have your Labels set up, you can use them in combination with your Filters.

Here is the Google Tutorial for using Filters:

https://support.google.com/mail/answer/6579?ctx=gmail&hl=en&authuser=0

To be perfectly honest, I find the above tutorial a little confusing. Here is one I like better that also explains more how to use Labels in combination with Filters:

http://www.switched.com/2010/10/20/use-gmail-filters-and-labels-to-effortlessly-organize-your-e-mai/

Here’s my suggestion:

Don’t go crazy with Filters right away. Start by getting into the habit of using Labels. Set a “no brainer” Filter just to get started.

To manage my children’s complex and changing sports schedules, for example, I set up a Label called “Children’s Sports.”

Next, I set up a Filter for their coaches’ emails. Emails from their coaches are automatically marked as “Important” and Labeled as “Children’s Sports.” That way, I don’t have to label each email by hand.

When I need to retrieve information about sports, I just click on the Children’s Sports Label on the lefthand side of my inbox and, voilà, everything from their coaches appears before my eyes.

Pro Tip: If you want to take the functionality of Filters even further, read this post about 20, let’s say, Powerful Power User ways to use Filters:

http://www.lifehack.org/articles/technology/20-ways-to-use-gmail-filters.html

Change Can Be Difficult

Adjusting to Labels and Filters is, well, an adjustment.

Like most technology, there is a learning curve that, once you get past it, will save you time and boost productivity.

If, like me, having a full inbox stresses you out, you will use the “Skip The Inbox (Archive)” Filter.

Skip the inbox (archive) screenshot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The potential problem with this is that your messages will be “out of sight, out of mind.”

My suggestion is this:

Schedule one to three times per day (I choose morning and evening) to do a once-over of your inbox, taking a careful peek at Labels such as “Important” and things that have to do with work or kids.

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3 Comments to “How to Organize Your Email To Save Time And Boost Productivity”

  1. Thank you for the article, Anna.

    Another suggestion is to have a seperate email address for personal and business mail. You may even want a third one specificly for sending social media notifications. Email used to cause me a lot of stress until I set up multiple accounts.

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