Since I started blogging I have had a Gmail account. It was the easiest way when I had a wordpress.com site that I could get something that looked like my own domain instead of a personal email address. Over the years I have continued to use the same inbox in Gmail, but added my own domain emails addresses to it. But one thing has always been consistent – 1000’s of unread emails.
It got worse when Gmail changed the format of the inbox as well. But recently focusing on my productivity as I really want to spend less time on the chores of blogging. And more time doing the bits that I enjoy I researched, played around and have a solution that works. I’ve even managed to keep track of those all-important MUST REPLY to emails.
So what did I do – I rearranged my account and the way that I use it. I know that the ideal solution would be that I only touch the email once. But I tend to take my time on the afternoon school run to read through my emails so that just wouldn’t work. Instead, I got organised.
Step 1 for your Productive Gmail Inbox
Now the first step I took was radical but it was a moving forward step. I marked ALL of my emails as read. Instead of the skimming over the emails that I didn’t want to read and just leaving them there. Yes, I know you do it too! I marked them ALL every single one as read.
Step 2 your Productivity Cycle
WHAT? Ok, it’s my name for it – my productivity cycle or lack of productivity as it was – I sat and worked out what I needed to do. I basically on the school run have 4 things that I do in my inbox:
- Don’t Open it as it’s not really relevant!
- Open it read it delete it!
- Open it skim want to come back to it because it sounded interesting!
- Open it read it – need to reply to it but can’t because I have fat fingers and my typing on the phone is just plain ridiculous!
Once I get home, I would open the ones that I remembered I need to reply to reply to them – hope that the person replied to them back and forget about them. The ones that I wanted to read more on I would hunt for and see if I could remember where they were and then give up. Do you see the problem and how unprofessional it is? I’m running a business and a brand and because of the way that I was working it wasn’t good.
So I categorised my inbox activity into
- Read More/To Do
- Respond To
- Waiting for a Response
Step 3 your Gmail Hack
First off – you know your unread messages in Gmail number well it’s an LIE – that is how many unread messages you have in your Primary Inbox not including your Promotions and social inboxes as well. See it’s an LIE.
So lets set it up to tell us the truth.
- Hover over inbox on your desktop and a little drop down will appear
- Select Priority Inbox from the menu
- You now have a true representation of how many unread emails you have – if you followed Step 1 that should be very low now
Step 4 putting your productivity cycle in place
Remember back there I asked you to write what you did with your emails now we are going to label them up so you can be organised. Here’s the thing only 4 sections will be displayed but I like to be organised so I create more labels where I put my archived emails and I split these into the type they are: Courses, Freelance, PR, Ad Agency, Collaborations, Press Trips, Books, Invoices, Finished Projects and Campaigns etc…. as well as Personal.
However, everything when it first comes in either goes to –
- Read More/To Do
- Respond To
- Waiting for a Response
To set up your labels
- Click on the Cog on the right-hand side
- Select Settings
- Click on Labels
- Scroll Down to Create New Label
- Create all the labels that you think you will need (don’t worry you can come back to them)
- Once you are finished click back on your Inbox
Step 5 Working Gmail with Labels
So go back to my routine – in the car on the afternoon school run I open my Gmail I look at the email Ohh delete, Ohh interesting read delete, the third email need to respond to that I label it – Respond to – HOW?
In an iOS click on the arrow in the top right-hand corner and you have the option to label the email – chose what you want and move onto the next email.
On Android top right-hand corner and click the three dots – change label and chose what you want
I repeat with my emails and then when I get home I open up and because of Step 6, I can easily see what I need to do next.
Step 6 Laying out your Priority Inbox
At first, your Priority Inbox is set up for Important and Unread, Important, Unread, Starred and EVERYTHING ELSE… well umm Gmail doesn’t know what is important for me or you. So it’s time to change it to those labels that we have given everything.
- Go to the little arrow beside your inbox name and click more options
- Choose the label that you want
- Then sort out the other 2 parts – you only get 3 chosen inboxes so I have my Respond to, To Do and Waiting for Response and then EVERYTHING ELSE.
Does this actually work
Here we go – my inbox pre-afternoon School run. 71 unread messages (I do a clear out first thing in the morning as well)
Remove all the email’s that are rubbish and I straight away deleted and I’m left with 29 emails that I want to actual look at.
When I returned from the school run – 15 minutes of replying to those emails and added to tomorrow’s to-do list longer actions needed on the other emails.
Inbox back to ZERO!
Not sure about our Gmail Hack to increase your productivity
Why not give it a try – if it doesn’t work out and you want to go back to your normal view then just go back to the little beside Inbox and select Default.
Save this for later:
Images from DepositPhotos – Happy Woman with Laptop