HOW TO SPEND LESS TIME IN GMAIL, SO YOU CAN FOCUS ON THE “REAL” THINGS THAT NEED TO GET DONE
[5 Quick Tips to Implement NOW!]
Everyone is getting more email these days, especially with so much of our communications having to be done virtually. Keep reading to learn some tricks that will help you spend less time in Gmail.
I’ll show you ways to keep your email fresh and organized so that you can focus on the “real” things that need to get done.
Spend less time in Gmail!
[This post was originally written for students but can easily be applied to anyone looking to be more efficient when using Gmail.]
Don’t try to hide it! There are lots of you that don’t check your email everyday. Some of you even brag about how many emails you have as new.
“Look at how many emails I have!” As you show off your little red badge in the corner of your email app that is an outrageous number.
It’s time to get that under control and feel better about your productivity. So, watch the video above, or keep reading for ways to improve your efficiency.
How to “Get” All of Your Email
Turn on Notifications
I don’t know about you, but if I don’t get a notification “ding” from my computer letting me know I have a new email, I probably won’t know about it until at least the next morning.
Especially if it comes after a certain time in the morning when I’ve already checked my email thoroughly.
It’s probably happened to you before. When a teacher sends an update to an assignment – or worse another assignment halfway through the day that is due TOMORROW!
I know – it’s so frustrating.
So … turn on your notifications in email. ‘Cause I’m sure it won’t be the last time that happens in your educational career.
Here’s how you can make that happen:
Go into your settings through the wheel in the top right corner.
Select “See all settings”
Scroll down to Desktop Notifications and make sure New Mail Notifications is turned ON!
Don’t forget to scroll to the bottom and SAVE CHANGES.
Now when a new email arrives you’ll get a “ding” and a notification will appear to let you know you might have an important message.
Who knows – maybe it’s your teacher telling you that a only small part of the assignment is due tomorrow. That means less work! 😃
Check All the Inbox Tabs
One place that students forget to look is the Updates & Promotion Tabs at the top of your Inbox.
This may not be activated on your account, but if it is, you will want to remind yourself to check this daily. Google Classroom notifications often end up in one of these tabs and they can get lost if you don’t know to check them.
These are called Categories and you can also check them in the right-side menu.
If you want to turn these off it’s easy to do in the settings section.
Go to the Settings wheel in the top right corner.
Select “See all settings”
There should be another top menu that begins with “General”
Find & select “Inbox”
You should see Categories near the top. This is where you would unselect the boxes for these filters to show up in your Inbox.
By unclicking these it will mean that all of your email will come directly to the main Inbox page.
How to Prioritize In Gmail
We’re all communicating so much more digitally these days. which means there are more emails in our inbox than normal. How do you manage all of them?
Here are some ways that you can organize your Google mail to make things more efficient for you.
First, look through your emails to help you prioritize which order to address them in.
I’ve got this new email about an assignment that was just posted in my Google Classroom.
“I need to get that done.” BUT “I don’t really want to do it right now.”
Keep Emails as Un-read
For any email you will need to respond to, it’s a good idea to mark is as “unread” so that it stays bold. This makes it easier to see when you end up having a little more time to answer it later.
How do you do this?
You can mark it within the email that you have open. Look in the top menu of the email just below the search bar. You should see an icon that looks like this:
You can also do this in the “Inbox”
Select the box next to the email you want to “Mark as Unread” and you will see the same icon appear in that top menu (below the search bar).
Likewise, you can mark others as “Read” in this same way if you know you do not need to respond to them, but feel you should probably keep them for future reference.
By doing this with all of your emails that you need to respond to, you can focus your energy on doing that, instead of trying to figure out which ones need your attention.
Use the STAR system! ⭐️
Another way you can prioritize is to use the built-in “star” system Google has next to each of your emails.
By selecting the star it will turn yellow and allow you to say,
“This is important! I need to do it right away!”
You can also sort your emails so that all the stars come to the top!
But guess what!?! You can do so much more with this feature.
Scenario: I’ve got this private comment from my teacher that I want to make sure I respond to. However, I don’t need to do it right now.
So, how do I mark this in my Inbox so I will remember it? I will definitely mark it as “Unread” but how can I set it apart from the more important email I need to respond to first?
LET’S USE MORE STARS!
First, we have to tell Google we want to use more stars.
Go up to the top right corner and click on the “gear” or Settings icon and select “See All Settings.”
Scroll down this first page of settings and you will see the colorful star system toward the bottom.
Next, all you have to do is move the stars and icons you want into the “top row” and then you will have access to them. You can even place them in an order that you might use them more frequently. I like to use all of them and place them in rainbow order. 😁
*Don’t forget to SAVE CHANGES at the bottom of the page.
Now go back to your Inbox and click on the star next to the email we were just talking about. You’ll see that you can now click the star more than once and it will cycle through the other stars and icons you just organized in your settings.
Using this “star system” I can color-code my important emails so that they are visually easier to find. So I might use the “red !” for urgent messages. The “yellow star” for important (but maybe not urgent”) messages. The “purple question mark” for emails that I need to ask a question about, or that has something in it I don’t understand. And maybe the “blue star” to label emails from my friends.
Use Labels to Your Advantage
Okay, let’s say I’ve read this email and it has important information in it I don’t want to forget.
It’s not something I need to act on right away, but I don’t necessarily want to see it in my Inbox.
Let’s apply a Label (or folder) to this email where it can live until I need it.
Create a Label
If you look in the left menu where you see your Inbox, there are other folders as you look down that list.
Close to the bottom you will see a divider with the word “More” under it.
Click on “More” and it should open up more menu items.
Scroll down to see folders such as Spam and Trash, etc.
At the bottom of that list you should see Manage Labels & Create New Labels.
We want to Create New Labels for now.
If you would like to attempt to Manage your labels, then you can look around in that section in the future. There are a lot of ways you can customize them. If you like that kind of organization or think it would help you, make sure you come back to this at another time.
Alright … you should now be looking at a pop-up.
Let’s title this “Important School Stuff”
After you press enter, you should be able to see this label/folder. It will be located underneath your Drafts folder or at least near the top of your left column menu.
Now I can take that “important” email and simply click & drag it into this new label I just created.
If you kept the message as Unread then you will see the entire label become bold and a number 1 beside it. This indicates that you have one unread message within this label or folder.
Create a Nested Label
Oh, look! I have another email that falls under this same situation, where I don’t need to act on it right now, but I don’t want to get rid of it.
Let’s do the same thing for this one and create a label again. Except this time, I am going to put this label “inside” the other one.
Click on “More” in the left side menu and scroll down to Create a New Label.
Give it a title – This email is for an assignment in English, so I’m going to give it the label title of “ELA”
Before I press “Create” I am going to choose to Nest this label underneath my “Important” label.
That way this ELA label will live under (or inside) the Important label.
Now simply move your email to this new “nested” folder called ELA for later reference
There you go!
You’ve just cleaned up some of your email!
Use these five simple techniques to help you organize and prioritize all of your messages. I promise it will make your life so much easier.
Plus, it will save you tons of time not having to sift through all of your emails every time you are trying to figure out what to do next.
For me, it’s so much easier to look at things that have visual cues and to keep my email tidy.
Keeping all your emails as “new” or keeping them all on the front page can get very tiring. Don’t wait any longer! Put these tips into action TODAY so you can be more productive.
Do yourself a favor and implement some of the tips we talked about:
- Turn on Notifications
- Make sure you check your Inbox Tabs for Classroom notifications – OR – turn this feature off in your settings.
- Mark as Unread – all emails that you need to respond to or complete something.
- Prioritize with the Star System!
- Use Labels to declutter your Inbox.
Download the FREE guide below to keep on your bulletin board. It can help to remind you of all these tricks and hopefully be motivation for you to keep your Inbox decluttered all year long.