Get Inbox ZERO: How to Organize Your Gmail – The Ultimate Guide

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It’s a moment in everyone’s professional career which calls for a celebration.

No, it’s not a promotion or nailing a big presentation to the executive team – although those are good things too.

It’s the moment your Gmail account achieves Inbox Zero, the business phenomenon where your inbox remains empty or as close to empty as possible.

Learn How to Use Gmail to its Utmost Potential.

Sure, you could take the gamble of just archiving all of your messages (not recommended) and starting from scratch, but without proper Gmail organization tips, your inbox will be overflowing with new and unread messages before you know it.

Gmail Organization Tips – Why It’s So Important

How many emails would you say you receive in a day?

According to a report by a technology market research firm, the average worker will send or receive 140 business emails daily by 2018. In a typical eight-hour workday, that’s more than 17 emails each hour, or one email almost every four minutes.

Consider any personal or junk emails that may also go to your work account, and that number could easily top 200 emails each day. Imagine how much more productive you could be if you didn’t need to waste time sifting through all those emails to determine which ones are most important and require an immediate response.

5 Gmail Organization Tips to Help You Achieve Inbox Zero

It may seem like an impossible challenge and might take some time to fine-tune, but organizing your Gmail account will help you reduce stress and better manage your time and priorities.

Here are five simple Gmail organization tips you can use to reach Inbox Zero and become more productive at the workplace.

1. Select Your Layout to Organize Gmail

The first step to organizing your Gmail is to select your preferred layout.

When you open your inbox, click on the gear symbol in the upper right corner and select “Settings.” Then along the top of the settings window, click on the “Inbox” tab. From here, Gmail gives you five layout options for your inbox.

  • Default: This is the standard format that organizes your Gmail by date an email is received. In this view, you can select different categories in which your emails are placed. They appear as tabs at the top of your screen and can be helpful in determining which of your emails are likely to be more important.
  • Important First: In this view, Gmail tries to predict which emails you are most important (noted with a yellow marker) and displays those messages in a top inbox. Your less important messages are displayed in a lower inbox at the bottom of your screen.
  • Unread First: This view is similar to the Important First option, however, your top inbox includes messages you haven’t opened yet, while the bottom inbox would include everything else.
  • Starred First: Your Starred First view also splits your inbox into two fields and displays only the emails you’ve starred in the top view. Everything else appears in the second view below.
  • Priority Inbox: This is like a combination of all of the views. Gmail uses predictive analysis to determine which emails you’re most likely to interact with based on past actions. It then puts those emails into the top view.

Finding a layout that works for you will help you keep your Gmail organized.

2. Add a Preview Pane to Organize Gmail

The default view of Gmail just shows the sender, subject line, and a little bit of preview text before the row runs out of room. In most cases, you’ll need to open the email to determine if it’s something that was really worth reading.

You can save time and organize your Gmail by adding a preview pane. Click on the gear symbol and “Settings” from the dropdown. Then select “Labs” from the tabs that appear. Scroll down to “Preview Pane” and click enable. Save your changes and then you’ll have the option to see a preview of each email that comes in.

3. Create Custom Labels and Folders to Organize Gmail

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On the left side of your inbox, you’ll notice a list of labels to which you can add emails to help keep your inbox organized. But did you know you can create custom labels in this area too?

If you select a message or several messages, you can click on the button at the top of your inbox that looks like a shopping tag. This allows you to assign those messages to predefined labels that Gmail uses to keep your inbox organized.

You can also create custom labels in this area by selecting “Create new.” You even have the option to nest labels within other labels, similar to creating subfolders when saving files on your hard drive.

You even have the option of color-coding your labels to further distinguish priority. For instance, you might select red for a label called VIP to which you archive all messages from your boss.

Once you create a label, you’ll notice it adds a folder in the list on the left of your inbox and adds the label name next to the subject line. Now, when you archive this message, it will be moved to that specific folder.

By customizing your options, it makes it easier to organize your Gmail folders and keep your inbox clean.

4. Create Filters to Organize Gmail

After creating custom labels, you can apply filters to messages to send certain emails directly to their folders and keep them out of your general inbox.

For instance, if you know that every Friday you’ll receive an internal communications newsletter that you really don’t have time to read, you can use filters to send that message to a specific folder where you can check it out – or delete it – later.

After selecting the email or emails you wish to filter, click on the “More” button at the top of your inbox and select “Filter messages like this” from the drop-down menu. From there, you can select to filter messages by sender, subject line, keywords, and attachments, among other things. After selecting your criteria, you click “Create filter with this search” and select the action you’d like this filter to take – such as assigning to a custom folder or label and skipping the inbox. When finished, click “Create filter.”

It’s important to note that you can also select to have this filter applied to all conversations which match the criteria, so you don’t have to create individual filters for each one.

5. Use Send and Archive Feature to Organize Gmail

Now that you’ve organized your Gmail inbox to automatically archive certain emails to custom folders, you can really clean out your inbox by archiving messages at the same time you send responses.

To activate this feature, click on the gear icon and “Settings” from the drop-down menu. Scroll down and select the “Show ‘Send & Archive’ button in reply.” Save your changes.

Now when you reply to a message, you’ll have two send options. One is a traditional send and the other will send the message and automatically send the email chain to the All Mail archive. If you assigned a label to the message, it will instead go to that specific folder. If someone replies to your sent email, the conversation will automatically move back to your inbox.

Turning on this feature is a fast and effective way to clear the clutter out of your inbox and keep your Gmail organized.

Following These Gmail Organization Tips Can Make Inbox Zero Possible

Inbox Zero won’t just be an elusive dream if you follow these simple Gmail organization tips.

But just like any shortcuts, you need to find a system that works for you. If one of these methods makes it harder for you to find archived messages or keep track of important conversations, then try something else. Once you find the procedures that make sense for your daily routine, your inbox will be a well-oiled machine.

Increase Your Gmail Productivity

Most people understand how to use the basics of their Gmail inbox, but what about the nitty-gritty tips and tricks that could make your life easier, your work more efficient, and your interactions more successful? We’ve pulled together eleven tricks that exist both within Gmail, and through external Google Chrome Extensions, that will show you how to use Gmail better. These tricks will allow you to enhance your inbox, save time, and scale your business. Click on the photo below to learn how to use Gmail.

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Aaron Colby

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