On average, white-collar workers spend just over 4 hours a day on checking work emails. That’s more than 20 hours a week — 1,000 hours a year.
It’s hard to imagine that spending that much time dealing with emails is the best use of your time (or anyone else’s, for that matter). However, by understanding how to organize Gmail, you will be able to significantly reduce the time you waste on email and better focus on critical tasks.
However, one of the worst parts about the email situation is that nearly every time a new message arrives, it distracts you from the task at hand — and it takes about 23 minutes for you to regain your focus, on average.
With this in mind, anything you can do to make yourself more efficient and create fewer distractions when it comes to emails is going to have a huge impact on your overall productivity.
Prioritize Your Emails
The priority inbox setting is a great place to start when it comes to figuring out how to organize Gmail. It automatically splits up your email into three sections: important and unread, starred, and everything else.
A more sophisticated approach to prioritize your inbox is to have Gmail's machine learning analyze your messages to determine what's important, considering things like how you've treated similar messages in the past, how directly the message is addressed to you, and many other factors.
A few others include, set up Gmail’s Inbox categories to automatically sort messages into different tabs such as Updates which includes email confirmation, receipts, bills and statements. Then, turn on Gmail’s browser notifications for important mail rather than all new mail. Gmail classifies important mail based on whom you mail and how often you email them, which emails you open, which emails you reply to, keywords in your emails that you usually read and which emails you star, archive or delete.
You can change your inbox setting to any of these by clicking on the drop-down menu of the inbox tab. Then, select whichever one works best for you.
Skip Your Inbox
There are plenty of important emails that you receive daily that you might not actually need to read yourself, such as receipts. Surely, you don’t want to delete your receipts, but you don’t need them distracting you and bogging down your inbox.
Thankfully, there is an easy way to make these emails skip your inbox, directly filed away for when you or your team needs them.
Click the small caret (arrow) pointing down in the search bar. At the bottom of the screen, you’ll see the “create a new filter” option in which you can establish parameters, such as emails with the word “receipt” in the subject line.
Next, you’ll decide what the filter does. If you don’t want the email to go to your inbox, click “skip the inbox (archive it).” From this point forward, emails that meet the parameters you set up will no longer end up in your inbox, but will still be available if you need them.
By using this technique for organizing your Gmail account, you can start limiting the number of extraneous emails distracting you and vying for your attention.
Laying Out Auto Labels
Another automatic filtering method that will help you keep your inbox clutter-free and organized is auto labelling incoming emails. The best part about auto labelling emails is that you can focus on the emails that are the most important to the task you are currently working on — such as only the ones that are labelled as relevant to the task.
These labels can range from project-specific and people-specific labels, to general labels, such as “My Projects.”
By again navigating to the filter creation section of the settings menu, you’ll be able to set parameters for when each filter is applied. Then, you will want to click on the checkbox next to “apply the label” and choose the label you want to use from the drop-down menu. If you don’t see the label you want, just choose “new label”.
Labels Inside Labels
By nesting labels, you can further organize Gmail. For example, a useful sub-label could be individual employee names nested within a parent label for “employees.” Gmail’s ability to apply multiple labels to an email offers a richer search experience that doesn't force you to pick only a single location for an email.
You can create these nested labels by checking the “nest label under” box when creating a new label for an email. You’ll then be able to choose a parent label from a drop-down menu.
We often think about labels for incoming messages. However, they’re beneficial for outgoing messages too. As you compose a message, click the three dots more button to add a label to composed messages. Think about all the wasted hours you spend searching your sent folder for an email you have to reference to CYA?
Everyone’s workday is packed with a list of responsibilities and tasks to manage. We think in terms of responding to emails in real-time all day long.
After you create a few labels and set up notifications for essential emails versus all new emails, then write a recurring follow-up email and save it as a canned response. This minimizes the time you waste crafting individual responses.
For instance, the sales team is responsible for responding to questions, requests for information, and demos. The majority of the time, sales responses are general and require little personalization. Canned responses are perfect in this situation.
Under advanced settings, enable canned response templates. Open and compose a response, click the more option to name and save the template. Next time you receive a request for demo select your canned response, add a bit of personalization, and quickly move the task off your plate.
Sorting with Sortd Chrome Extension
The Sortd Chrome extension is one of the top ways to organize Gmail. It increases productivity with reminders, email tracking, notification snoozing, and subject line renaming.
The customizable column layout allows you to create an email workflow that works best for you. The drag-and-drop function to re-order items in your account allows you to establish exactly what needs to be prioritized.
Additionally, the spatial screen layout allows you to see all of your emails and tasks with a single glance.
Digging into the Digitile Chrome Extension
Transport yourself back to your desk when you needed to find a few files to attach to an email. But, you can't remember the file name, who sent it or where to begin searching for it. This process repeats multiple times a day, and employees waste time searching for attachments sitting in their inbox, which kills productivity.
Digitile’s visual file search engine is releasing a Chrome extension to make your Google work apps easier to use. In October, you can search for any file regardless of where it’s stored Slack, Trello, Dropbox, etc. - inside Gmail, then with a click attach the files to any email — doing away with having to download files stored in different places and then reattach them to send. The best part with the extension is that everything auto-syncs and is searchable at any time.
Get Early Access to Digitile’s Chrome Extension
Final Thoughts: 7 Tricks for How to Organize Gmail
Though dealing with emails can be a detrimental drain on your workday, it doesn’t have to be this way. By properly labelling and organizing your emails, it’s possible to significantly cut back on the amount of time you spend wading through unnecessary content.
Of course, if you want to take how to organize Gmail to the next level, take advantage of the Digitile Chrome extension. Sign up now for your free trial.