The Secret Life of Gmail (Part 1)

April 28th, 2014 by Search Influence Alumni

Part of my everyday is sorting through ~150 emails, which can be quite taxing if you don’t have a good system in place. We use GMail for our email system at SI. I know most small businesses probably have their email system already figured out, but if you don’t, I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND using GMail as it has lots and lots of great features that make emailing less painful. I have learned some great tricks offered within Gmail- far too many for just one blog post. This first post is about organizing and archiving your email account. Part two will be geared towards writing and scheduling emails. I hope you find this helpful!

1. Priority Inboxes

Priority inboxes are a great way to organize your inbox if you have trouble figuring out what’s important and what is actually relevant to you. This setting is very customizable, and you can set the number of emails you wish to see or have visible per section. I have mine set up as Important and Unread, Important, and Everything Else. Important and unread is exactly what it says- all messages that are marked as important or all messages that are unread. Important is everything that I have read and marked as important, but I haven’t necessarily responded to or handled the particular issue yet. Everything else is compilation of things I just need to file away or delete (because they’re not applicable to me).


2. Important Arrows

These are great in combination with the Priority Inbox. If you use these, Google will start to learn what is and is not  important to you. It will learn to sort them in the priority inboxes accordingly.  When I get an email in my Important and Unread, Google knows to put it there because it has the important arrow. If I receive an email in my Important and Unread section that is actually not applicable to me, I uncheck the arrow. That way, the next time I get a similar email (with that same subject or from that same person), Google puts it in my Everything Else inbox. It works the other way too- if I see something in my Everything Else Inbox is actually important, I put the important arrow with it, and Google moves it into my Important and Unread Inbox. It learns these habits over time, so your Inbox for the most part really does become organized.


3. Filters

Do you find yourself receiving emails that you don’t ever need to read or open? We get emails from our CRM system all the time, but I never look at them because, frankly, I receive way too many other emails a day that are much more important. So, I have set up a filter so the emails I receive from that recipient are automatically filed away into my “CRM” folder. They never actually show up in my inbox! To set up a filter, go to settings, filters, and then create new filter at the bottom. You can perform a search function by email recipient addressed to you with a certain subject line, etc. You can set it so GMail will either automatically apply a label or archive it into the folder you have identified. This will save a lot of filing time if you have emails similar to this coming to you everyday.


4. Unread Messages Icon

This is a Lab in the settings. If you’re like me and you leave your email open all day in a tab (I know I shouldn’t, but hey- we all have our vices), you can enable this feature so you can monitor your email as you are working on other tasks. My recommendation is if you get more than 10 new messages, you should probably hop back over to your email just to check and make sure nothing SUPER important needs to be tended to.


5. Mute Button

This is a great feature that you can use to mute conversations if they keep popping up in your inbox. I get a lot of emails that are not related to me, so I often put a “Not Mine” label on them. If that same conversation pops up again in my inbox, I’ll see the “Not Mine” label on it, realize that it is not for me, and press the mute button. This will make it so if anyone else responds on this email strand, the conversation will no longer come to my inbox, but it will stay filed away in its folder. BRILLIANT STUFF HERE!