This is part 1 of a 3-part series about email. But this isn’t about bulk emails or marketing emails – that’s another subject – this is about your day-to-day emails. It isn’t the most sexy subject. You might say it’s pretty dull, but let’s face it, emails are a big part of our working life and, like other areas, there are loads of tips and tricks for doing it better so that you don’t spend your life snowed under.
Here’s what we’ll talk about………
Part 1 – the setup that I recommend. Spoiler – it’s Gmail, but don’t worry you can still receive and send from several email addresses through Gmail, so you’ll be able to keep using the email address that you want.
Part 2 – lots of little tips and tricks for using Gmail that will save you time and effort! For example, a great feature called ‘canned responses’, where you can save common responses to send at the click of a button.
Part 3 – some bigger ideas about email. For example, avoid getting too many emails in the first place by having common answers to questions on your website. And more……
Part 1 - the setup - Gmail
Changing from using Microsoft Outlook for my emails to using Gmail was a bit of a game changer. I should say that Outlook has probably changed, I haven’t used it for years, but I can remember it being a real hassle worrying about backing it up and accessing it from any device.
Someone smarter than me recommended Gmail and I took his advice. Here are the things that I love about Gmail:
It is cloud based
So I can access it from any device any time. There is no need to back up. Whether I’m on the computer or phone, I can save my emails (received or sent), give them labels and they will be accessible from anywhere.
You can set up several email addresses to send and receive through a free Gmail account
Ideally you have an email address that is the domain name of your website. So this website is tenniscoachblog.com and I have the email address firstname.lastname@example.org. That is fine, you can set that to flow into your free gmail account.
The same applies to other email providers like Hotmail – you can have several linked up to one Gmail address and receive and send from all of them from the one place.
Gmail is great for saving / storing and searching for emails
Hardly a week goes by when I don’t benefit from the ability to search for an email that I’ve sent or received. You can search by any word, phrase, who it’s from, date and more. So useful!
And there is a system for labeling emails that I think is better than using folders. You just give the email a label or multiple labels, then ‘archive’ it, then click on the label as you would a folder to see what is there.
There is a whole suite of other tools which come with Gmail - all FREE
The main ones that I use are the calendar and Google Drive. The calendar has all the same cloud-based benefits that I’ve described above. The same goes for Google Drive which is basically online storage, but great for sharing and collaborating.
Lots of great features and addons
I’ll go through some of these in Part 2, but there are loads of great features of Gmail which save you time and effort.
The initial setup of your Gmail account
I won’t reinvent the wheel and take up page-space by describing how to do most of the things in this series. A quick google search will bring up guides for that. But before we get onto some of the features of Gmail in Part 2, here are a few things to start you off.
Sign up for a free Gmail account
This just takes a couple of minutes. The username you choose isn’t too important, unless you want to use it as your personal email address.
Once set up, you should see something like this:
Get rid of the Social and Promotions tabs
As I’ve highlighted in the picture above, Gmail gives you 3 tabs by default – Primary, Social and Promotions. I find these annoying – you have to switch between them so you don’t miss anything. I prefer to just see everything in one inbox. To get rid of them:
- Go to ‘Settings’, also highlighted above.
- Click ‘See all settings’.
- Select ‘ Inbox’.
- Uncheck social and promotions. Scroll down and save changes.
Turn off conversation view
Another feature which I find annoying and caused me to miss emails. When turned on, it groups emails together which are part of the same conversation. When turned off, emails just appear individually, in order, in your inbox. I prefer this. To turn off:
- Settings / all settings / general
- Scroll down and check conversation view off.
Set up your other email address(es) to flow into this account
This is one where I’ll leave you to Google how to do it. Please comment at the bottom if you need help though.
However, a word about separating your work and personal email……………..
Separate your work & personal email, completely!
This is a conclusion that I came to in the last year, and I’m most of the way to achieving it, but not quite!
Using the methods above, I had several email addresses all flowing into the one Gmail account, which means they all go into the same inbox. But the problem was that this included my personal email address. So when I want to work, I can be easily distracted by non-work items. But on the flip side, when I’m trying to get away from work, I couldn’t look at my personal emails without seeing work stuff.
I realised that the best thing to do was have a completely separate Gmail account for my personal email address and the several work email addresses all flowing into the other Gmail account. So when I’m working I’m working – and I can switch off when not working.
This has taken some discipline – whenever shopping or subscribing to a newsletter etc. I have to be sure to use my personal email address. And I’ve had to unsubscribe from lots of emails which were incorrectly coming into my work email – and re-subscribe with my personal email. But I’m nearly there and it’s worth it.
Play with the other settings to get Gmail looking how you want
We’ll cover some of these in part 2, but lots of the settings are quite straightforward and you can’t do any harm by trying them out. Have a play around.
So that covers the reasons that I recommend using Gmail and a few of the initial settings.