Part 2 - Gmail tips & tricks
Here are lots of little time and energy saving tricks. Some are specific to Gmail, but most will work with any email provider.
Try to empty your inbox
This sounds obvious, but I do know plenty of people who just leave all emails in their inbox, sometimes ending up with 1000s in there and just trying to remember which ones they’ve dealt with.
The way I see it, is there are only 3 things that shoud be done with an email:
1. File it / archive it.
In Gmail, there is a feature called ‘archive’. That basically files the email away, but doesn’t delete it. So it is out of your inbox, but you can still find it later by searching for it or labeling it.
Gmail also uses ‘labels’ instead of folders. So you can give an email a label or multiple lables, which you create. See the picture below, where I’ve highlighted the archive and label feature.
So as soon as you’ve dealt with the email, label it and archive it. Or just archive it – the search feature with Gmail is so good that you can often get by with just that.
2. Delete it.
Self explanatory, but only do this if you’ll never need to see it again.
3. Take action
If you can reply or take whatever quick action is needed, try to do it, then archive it.
But try not to use your inbox as a to-do list. If you keep emails in your inbox to remind you to do something later, it will keep your inbox full. Better to have an actual to-do list or other system of reminders.
So, for example, let’s say you get an email asking you to provide a set of figures, but you know you won’t have the figures ready for a few days – ideally you want to put that task on some kind of to-do list, then archive the email so you can find it later.
If your inbox becomes your to-do list, it will always be full and stressful.
So Ideally you do one of those 3 things with your email and your inbox gets close to zero!
Set up your email signature
In Gmail, you can do this for all the email addresses that you are sending and receiving from. This is a great opportunity to spend a few minutes doing something which will save you time and even help with your marketing. Obviously you don’t want masses of stuff in there, but here are a few things you might have:
- Your usual sign off phrase, i.e. ‘many thanks, Karl’ or ‘Best Regards, Karl’.
- Your full name, name of business, logo and contact details.
- Links to your social media accounts, with a nice logo ideally.
- A marketing message. I like to have a sentance saying ‘Tennis camps for 3-16 year olds in the schools holiday, Click Here’.
So e4very time you send an email, all that info will automatically be included.
Use Canned Responses - top tip!
This is a GREAT feature of Gmail. Anything that you have to repeat often, you can save it in Gmail as a canned response. It’s really easy to set up and you can have as many as you like (I think).
This is great for enquiries and even better when combined with links to information on your website. Somebody emails you for information about tennis lessons for their child – you send them the canned response (with a couple of edits to make it personal), it directs them to a page of your website for further info, but still directs them to get back to you for further info or to take next steps.
This is a HUGE time saver.
The snooze button - use with caution
I’m not quite sure about including this one – it may be a bad habit in the same way that the real snooze button is a bad habit – and it probably goes against the advice of not using your inbox as a to-do list. But anyway……..
If you just can’t bring yourself to archive an email, you can ‘snooze’ it with Gmail. You choose a date for for email to pop back into your inbox. It will disappear until then. Actually it doesn’t disappear completely, you can always see your snoozed emails if you want to, but it does leave the inbox.
Filters and 'rules'
So maybe there are certain emails that you need to save, but you don’t want them in your inbox. I find this useful for newsletters, although I try not to have newsletters coming into my work email at all these days.
Maybe I receive the Fuzzy Yellow Balls newsletter or marketing emails, and I want to read them later in my own time, but don’t need them filling up my inbox. So I set a ‘rule’ which says that every time an email comes from that email address, it will skip the inbox and be given a label, like ‘newsletters’.
When I have some spare time, I might have a look at the newsletters label, but otherwise I just won’t see those emails. It’s a great way to avoid unnessecary distractions and keep the inbox down.
I will be adding a few more of these tips soon. Please add your own in the comments. And in Part 3, coming soon, some bigger ideas about emailing in general.