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How to: Managing Your Email Inbox

In Digital Communications, Personal Development on June 26, 2012 at 5:30 pm

Remember when keeping your email inbox tidy was easy? When you only received a few emails a week?

26 June 2012–It is not uncommon to receive upwards of 50 emails per day, which means digital organization is paramount. Your inbox does not have to be an untamed storage device or a detriment to your digital communications. With Gmail and some personal training, your inbox can be a source of happiness and productivity. There is only one requirement: learning to use the Gmail tools to your advantage. Before engaging these tools, it’s best practice to sift through your inbox and delete unnecessary messages as you see fit.

  1. The Label. Labels are comparable to the standard folder. You can personalize labels with colors, names, and nesting or subcategories.
  2. The Filter. Using filters in Gmail is the single greatest organizational feature, IMO. You select an email address in the filter settings and click “create filter”. Once you establish labels, they can be applied to inbound messages to easily automate inbox maintenance. This is also done in the filter settings when creating or editing a filter. Google provides step-by-step instructions to create a filter. Play with the settings to achieve desired results (e.g. auto-archive).
  3. Control your contacts. Keep a complete list of completed contacts, with at least names and email addresses. Add notes to provide relationship context. This automates a step in compose email, specifically: recognizing your email contact by filling out the “To” field.
  4. Outsource your inbox. Google offers more to its users than Gmail. Have you ever used Google Documents? Google Calendar? These two G-tools, in particular, are very valuable when managing your inbox. Instead of holding emails in your inbox to remember dates or emails containing files, upload them to the appropriate Google tool.

A common task in email management is properly storing information and archiving. Create a routine digest for archiving your information and you will keep your inbox trimmed and lean. The “important” tab and “starred” email are great for managing more ephemeral issues—such as bookmarking important emails, in the moment, which may not carry significant weight in the long-term.