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The 10 Best Gmail Productivity Tips

October 17, 2018

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The 10 Best Gmail Productivity Tips

Gmail has a ton of hidden useful functionality that few actually use. The following list outlines our top 10 tips to improve your productivity by getting the most out of your Gmail account.

1. Limit Emailing to Specific Times of the Day

Most of us are terrible at multitasking. Dealing with emails as they arrive is a terrible distraction from all the other tasks we are trying to get on top of during the day.

Obviously, some people need to respond to emails in a timely manner, but most don’t. If you can limit going through emails to once in the morning and once in the afternoon, you’ll be able to reply to all of them within 12-15 hours of receiving. If you keep Gmail closed the remainder of the time you will find it easier to focus and you will be far more productive.

2. Route All Your Email to Gmail

Many people juggle several email addresses these days. Some are accessed via Gmail, some via Outlook and some via browser-based clients connected to website control panels.

It’s very easy to forward all these emails to your Gmail inbox. Gmail is a very powerful inbox, especially for managing a complex web of email addresses, both business related and personal.

3. Use an Effective Spam Filter

There are broadly three types of emails.

  • Emails from people you know.
  • Emails from people you don’t know that might still be of value.
  • Emails from those you want nothing to do with.

Managing an inbox with all three of these types of emails can be challenging. You can end up with a spam folder with hundreds of emails that you still have to go through occasionally just in case your filter caught something you wanted to read.

Fortunately, there’s another alternative. BitBounce is an innovative spam solution that filters out unwanted spam while also giving senders the opportunity to verify that they know you.

If you don’t recognize the sender, they are given the opportunity to pay you in cryptocurrency to have their email to sent directly into your inbox at your set price. The best part is that the service is completely free. BitBounce allows you to keep unwanted spam out of your inbox, while also helping you earn money passively from your email.

4. Boomerang

Boomerang is an incredible Chrome extension with several very useful functions.

  • Return to Inbox Later – This is the function after which Boomerang was named. If you are trying to clear your inbox but are not yet ready to respond to mail, you can set the mail to pop back into your inbox at a specific time in the future. (Side note: The new Gmail Snooze function does the same thing but doesn’t come with any additional functionality.)
  • Send Later – Sometimes when trying to clear your inbox, you don’t want to send an email if it’s going to immediately result in replies filling up your inbox. This function allows you to type up a batch of emails and then send them later, after you have closed your inbox.
  • Boomerang also includes a few other useful functions. These include the ability to pause your inbox, send recurring messages at regular intervals, and even tell you how likely an email you’ve written is to receive a response.

5. Use Labels

If you have multiple email addresses coming into Gmail, things can get out of hand. While most email programs have folders, Gmail also has labels which are slightly different. A message can have several labels, regardless of which folder you put it in. Labels can also be color coded and appear on each message in your inbox, so that you can find important emails easily.

For example, you could attach a blue label to all your personal messages, and a green label to emails related to “golf”.

(image credit hiverhq.com)

Labels can be added to new emails in your inbox or added automatically using rules and filters. You can even add a label to outgoing messages, so that replies are automatically labelled when they arrive.

You can create new labels by going to Settings, then Labels – or you can create a new label within each message. Once you have created a label it will appear along with the folders on the left of the inbox. To change the color, click on the three little dots to the right of the label. You can then use filters and rules to automatically add labels to a message based on the sender’s address or the subject line.

6. Move an Email to Your Tasks List

If an email message requires a fair amount of time and attention, you can add it to your Tasks List. Simply open the message and then click on the More icon at the top – that’s the three vertical dots to the right of all the other icons. The drop-down menu includes an Add to Tasks option.

You can easily access your Tasks, Notes and Google Calendar from the three icons on the far right of the Gmail window.

7. Learn a few keyboard shortcuts

Simply clicking on the question mark key (?) with Gmail open will open a list of keyboard shortcuts which are unique to Gmail. You probably find you have specific tasks you do repeatedly while using email. Knowing just three or four keyboard shortcuts can speed things up considerably.

In total there are 32 shortcuts you can use. You may not want to learn all of them, and probably wouldn’t need them all anyway – but if you are a prolific user of Gmail there are probably a handful worth knowing.

Here are a few really useful examples:

  • <Ctrl> + <Shift> + 7 Numbered list
  • <Ctrl> + <Shift> + 8 Bulleted list
  • <Ctrl> + k Insert a link
  • <Ctrl> + m Open spelling suggestions
  • <Ctrl> + ‘ Go to next misspelled word
  • <Ctrl> + \ Remove formatting

8. Use Aliases

Few people know how aliases can be used with Gmail addresses, but they are easy to use, and can make managing your inbox so much easier.

By inserting periods (.) and plus signs (+) in your email address, you can create an endless list of variations of your address which will all be directed to the same inbox. You can then set up filters and rules to treat them differently.

For example, if your email address is [email protected] the following variations will all direct to the same inbox: [email protected], [email protected], and [email protected].

Using a plus sign gives you even more flexibility. With a plus sign you can append any word to the end of the first part of your email address, (like this: [email protected]).

You could use [email protected] to subscribe to golf related newsletters and [email protected] to subscribe to travel sites. You can then apply filters and labels to those addresses to automatically organize your inbox.

If you send reminders to yourself using something like [email protected], you’ll be able to easily group those messages into a to do list.

9. Automatically Unsubscribe from Newsletters

Usually when you want to unsubscribe from a newsletter mailing list, you have to scroll to the bottom of a message, click an ‘unsubscribe’ link, then wait for a website to load

Gmail has automated this process with a button right next to the email address of the sender. Open the message, look for the sender’s emails address at the top, and immediately to the right of it you will see an ‘unsubscribe’ button.

10. Quickly Find and Delete Large Attachments

If you find yourself running out of storage space in your Gmail account, you have two options. You can upgrade to a paid plan, or you can delete a few messages with large attachments. You’ll probably find some old messages that are no longer needed taking up valuable space. Here’s an easy way to find them:

To find attachments larger than 5 megabytes, type “size: 2m” into the search bar, or to find those larger than 10 megabytes, type “size: 10m” into the search bar. This will list all mails with attachments larger than the size you specify.

You can also find out how much space you have available by clicking on the following link, or pasting it into your browser: https://drive.google.com/settings/storage.