Gmail is the world’s most popular email service, with over 1 billion monthly active users. Not only is Gmail a premium email service, when used alongside the suite of Google services, Gmail becomes an outstanding productivity tool. The only catch? To make the most of your Gmail and Google accounts you need to know how to use them. Luckily for you here is our guide on how to organize your Gmail like a pro.
Gmail Basics: How to Organize Your Gmail
Getting the Gmail basics right will transform your inbox from a messy source of frustration into the productivity tool it was designed to be. Understanding how to create folders in Gmail, how to use tabs, and how to filter your emails is the first step in organizing your Gmail.
Labels (Also Known as Folders)
First are Gmail labels. In Gmail, labels are folders. Most other email providers and your PC or Mac will use the term folders. Labels in Gmail work in exactly the same way. This can cause confusion amongst Gmail users looking for folders.
Creating a label is easy. Scroll to the bottom of the left-hand menu bar, the one with the inbox and sent messages labels. At the bottom, you should see a “More” button. Once you click on “More”, you will see a create new label button. This will open a pop-up that allows you to create your new label. You will also have the option to create a sub-label, that will sit under a parent label.
Labels are the single most valuable tool for organizing your Gmail. You can check out a more detailed guide on how to create folders in Gmail here.
Categories is best described as an auto-filtering function. This function automatically sorts your emails into one of five categories, Primary, Social, Promotions, Updates and Forums. Categories can be found as tabs at the top of the inbox.
Many users prefer to turn off categories and use the primary inbox and sort the emails themselves. You can choose to use none, all, or any combination of the categories available. Because Gmail is a computer it will not always be perfect in its assignment of categories, for example, if you have both personal and business Facebook pages Gmail will send all emails from Facebook to your social category, rather than the primary inbox. Categories can be great for filtering out promotional emails and other non-urgent messages, but we recommend trialing for yourself and seeing if it suits your needs.
To manage your categories you go to settings, see all settings, and then inbox. Once there you can toggle the categories on and off.
Gmail allows users to determine which emails will appear at the top of your inbox list. If you navigate to settings and select the inbox tab the first option will be inbox type, here you can select how you prioritise your emails. Gmail gives users five options:
- Default – This shows you your emails in chronological order
- Important first – Gmail analyses your email habits to determine which emails are most important for you
- Unread first – Gmail will prioritise emails you have not yet read, moving read emails down your email list
- Starred first – This will move emails and conversations you have before starred to the top
- Priority inbox – This allows users to customise what emails they give priority to, for instance, important first, followed by unread. You can also select how many emails will appear in each section.
Unsubscribe, Unsubscribe, Unsubscribe
We use our emails to sign up for all sorts of things. And in many instances, we consent to receiving promotional emails when we do. This can lead to an inbox clogged up with mail we are never going to open. Taking the time to unsubscribe from email lists you do not open is useful. Once a week go through your inbox and rather than deleting promotional emails, open them and click the unsubscribe button at the bottom of the mail.
Regularly Clean Your Inbox
Now that you have learned how to create labels it is time to put them to work. Take time each week to clean up your inbox by deleting and archiving old messages.
Removing emails that have been resolved from your primary inbox will ensure you don’t bury important messages that still need attention. Exactly how you do this is a personal preference. You can file emails away under their correct label. You can create an archive label to store old messages you might want to refer to again. Or you can delete messages if you are sure you will not need that conversation again. Deleted messages will sit in your trash folder for 30 days before it is deleted entirely.
Cleaning up your inbox regularly will only leave behind what is essential.
Google Tasks and Google Calendar
These two tools can help boost your productivity and improve how you use your Gmail. Both Google Tasks and Google Calendar are built into your Gmail account. These can be accessed on the right-hand menu where you will find 3 icons, the third being google keep a note-taking tool.
Google Tasks is a to-do-list service where you can create tasks and items and cross them out as you complete them. You can create list categories for specific projects and you can create subtasks if a task has a series of required actions. Google Tasks are automatically synced with your Google Calendar and tasks with a due date will appear in your calendar and you will get a reminder to complete each task as it falls due. This is a very handy function for managing your Gmail. If you receive an email that requires action before a reply you can create a task to address the issue and a task to reply to the email.
In addition to Google Tasks, your Google Calendar can help you manage your Gmail. A Google Calendar summary is available as a side panel from your inbox. Here you can set meetings you arrange via email and can email invites to your attendees. You can also set aside time for yourself to answer emails and to regularly clean up your inbox.
Using Gmail Like a Pro
Now you have everything you need to start using Gmail like a pro. From how to create Labels to, keeping track of your emails and tasks with Google Tasks you now know how to organize your Gmail.