Posts tagged ‘inboxzero’

February 8, 2011

Inbox Zero with Google Mail

I’ve started using the inbox zero techniques recently, and have seen my productivity increase massively due to it.

If you don’t know what inbox zero is – you should read the articles at 43 folders first.

Google Mail gives us some additional tools that can really help over and above what the 43 folders articles offer. In this article I’m going to briefly outline some of the tools you can use with Google Mail to improve your productivity around email.

Much of what is referenced below uses the google lab features. If you are not familiar with them, look for the green conical jar icon in between your email address and the Settings menu in the top right of your Google Mail screen.

Using inbox zero, I went from 21,000 emails in my inbox to just actionable email (currently 5).

1. Filters and Labels

Create filters! Lots of them! Make this an active, on going process. The Gmail filters are very powerful, and so I’d recommend using these to clear your inbox. I don’t quite agree with the 43 folders motto of “Delete, delete, delete”. Instead, with Gmail, archive, archive, archive is the way forward. Make certain email types auto archive (for me this is Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc.); and also make sure you label all emails that come in – this not only increases the findability of information in the future, but also ensures that you can deal with only the emails you want to at any moment. Archived emails are not visible to you, but you can use the powerful search functionality of Gmail to find old information at any time.

2. Nested Labels

There is a great lab feature available to enable nested labels. Nested labels allow you to create “folders” of labels; and this is great for being able to manage large numbers of labels (I have 60 labels, seperated into 3 main categories, some of which have sub categories).

3. Hide Read Labels

Another lab feature that is incredible is the “Hide Read Labels” lab. This hides any label which does not have any unread messages in it. Pairing this with auto archive, means that you can quickly come back to unread (though unimportant) messages at any time.

4. Send and Archive

Send and archive is a lab feature that allows you to archive a thread as soon as you send the response. Enable this to ensure that your inbox remains clean.

5. Tasks

Enable Google Tasks lab feature if you haven’t already, and then use the More Actions menu to create tasks from emails where you have actions within an email. You can then archive the email, and use the Google Tasks feature to manage your to do list. In addition, if you add a deadline to the task, this will appear in your Google Calendar.