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Mary Wu, Social Media Consultant

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Tag Archives: Gmail

How to clean up your inbox

Mailboxes On Monitors Showing Emails Inbox And Online Communication

Mailboxes On Monitors Showing Emails Inbox And Online Communication

An email in box seems innocent enough. It’s just bits and bytes in a digital format that you look at a few times a day to see if anything important has popped up.

  • BUT — did you ever open your inbox and realize that you haven’t really cleaned it in a while (like years)?
  • Did you ever open your inbox and realize you have no clue how to prioritize, not the 50 new messages you’ve received today, but the 50 new messages you’ve received today plus the 50 new you’ve received each day for the last 50 days?

Sometimes it’s hard to figure out how to muddle through way too many messages.

One idea (developed by Merlin Mann) that has taken hold over the past few years is Inbox Zero:

This is probably a great goal to aspire to, but realistically speaking, there are people I know (heck I’m one of them) that might give up on something if it seems unattainable. So I’ve always been about actually DOING 85% instead of procrastinating if I think 100% is too difficult or time consuming.
evie quote
With that in mind, what are some TIPS for attaining Inbox Manageable:
  • Limit the time you spend reading email. Check email a few times a day (for longer periods of time) instead of many times a day. Perhaps pick 3 or 4 times a day you’ll just muddle through your mail instead of checking every 5 minutes. (Though I’ll admit to doing that at times – perhaps if a friend has run off to the hospital because a new grand-baby is about to appear).
  • Turn off notifications. Even if you don’t instantly jump to check what’s happening when you hear a “ding” or a “buzz,” you are still slightly distracted by it.
  • Your Inbox is NOT your To-Do list. You can make a separate folder for ToDo – or “Items Needing Action,” but don’t keep these “front and center”
  • Touch it once. Many organizational gurus suggest “touching it once” for paper that comes into your home (file it or toss it or act on it). The same works for electronic communication. Look at it and decide where it needs to go. If it’s something that needs to go on your schedule, put it on your calendar and delete the email.
  • User folders. Using filters you can create folders, and send mail from certain parties directly to a folder. In Gmail (and I assume in other email applications), if you have a folder with something “new” in it, you can look at it when you have the time.
  • Don’t use folders. One suggestion I’ve run across is to only use “inbox,” “trash,” “draft,” “sent,” and “archive.” With current search engines, you’re often able to find a message if you can use the proper search parameters.
    (Yes – I know that’s the exact opposite of what I said above – but your mileage may vary on any of these points, so take what works and leave the rest).
  • Make subject lines clear. This helps if you’re looking for something later, because it makes things easier to identify.
  • PICK UP THE PHONE. Sometimes you can be more productive by spending a few minutes talking to someone than going back and forth by email.
  • Print – or print to PDF. For myself, for information I need to retain from clients, I will “print” an email to PDF, and save the email in my client folder. Sometimes that’s the best place for me to find it.
  • Kill ’em while you’re killing time. Two years ago Gmail rolled out the tabs. (I wrote this at the time about the Gmail changes). I love the “new” (is it “new” if it’s two years old?) Gmail tabs, but sometimes I ignore things in my tabs. Sometimes you really need to go through and remove things, but this is great use for down time, for instance while you’re in the cell phone lot at the airport or while you’re waiting in line at the DMV.
Gain control of your email and don’t let other people prioritize your day.

Tuesday Tip – Do Not Disturb

Bedroom, 3D visualization modern style

Bedroom, 3D visualization modern style

Tuesday Tip – “Do Not Disturb”

 This tip is directed at GMAIL users, but it’s an idea that Outlook users (or anyone using an email service that schedules) can keep in mind.
I’m (somewhat of) a stalker. I don’t necessarily go hunting people down, but I can use tools that I have readily available to find out information about them. Saturday morning I woke up and wanted to send a quick chat message to a client. While doing something else, I noticed that she had been idle for about 3 hours. This was on a Saturday morning, and from doing the math, I could tell that maybe the best form of communication would be something that did NOT pop up in a notification window.
Instead of sending a chat or a text message, I decided my best course of action would be to send something LATER. For those of you that have Gmail, you know there’s not a way to send a message “later” …
ID-10079666OR IS THERE?
You can add Boomerang for Gmail by Baydin to your Gmail. Boomerang will allow you to send emails later, and also to “Boomerang” a mail if you’ve sent it and want to make sure you hear back from the person.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Q&A The Gmail changes

ID-10050644A friend of mine likes to use the saying, “It is what it is.” And that’s pretty much what I thought when the new Gmail tabs were rolled out. It was mildly irritating at first, but I got used to it.

Then I started reading emails and talking to people and found that, for some people, it’s a bit more complex than that. At a networking group I go to a coach was concerned about her newsletter distribution, so while I was preparing to send information to her, I decided to create a blog post.

If you liked Gmail before

If you want *YOUR* Gmail to be as it was before the change:

  1. Open Gmail.
  2. Click on the gear   in the top right and select settings.
  3. Select the Inbox tab.
  4. In the Inbox type section deselect all the categories to go back to your old inbox.

(I grabbed this straight from the Google support website).

If you have subscribers

If you have a mailing list and are concerned people won’t find you because your mail now appears under the Promotions tab.

If the receivers (your subscribers) want your mail to go directly to  their inbox.

Option 1

  1. In Gmail, click on the promotions tab.
  2. Hover over the mail you want moved.
  3. Click and drag on your mouse, and move the mail to the desired tab.
  4. At the top of the screen you will get a message that looks something like this:
    The conversation has been moved to “Primary”. Undo

    “Do this for future messages from name@email.com?” Yes
  5. Click “Yes” in the popup message box to have all future messages appear in the desired tab.

Option 2

  1. In Gmail, click on the promotions tab.
  2. Right click on an email that you’d like to move.
  3. Hover over “move to tab” then hover over “primary” (or other desired tab).
  4. At the top of the screen you will get a message:
    The conversation has been moved to “Primary”. Undo

    “Do this for future messages from name@email.com?” Yes
  5. Click “Yes” at the top of screen to have all future messages appear in your primary inbox.

Of course, if you’re sending information to your email list using a service like AWeber or MailChimp, the mail will likely end up in your subscriber’s promotions area, so you might have to send out individual emails for this step. If you do send out individual emails, you’ll only need to be concerned with people that have gmail.com addresses.

Another way to contact your newsletter subscribers is to post to any social networks (Facebook, Google+, Twitter). In addition to this post, you can share a video that Michael Stelzner of Social Media Examiner made this YouTube video describing Gmail tabs.

Personally, I’ve found that I actually like the new tabs. I find it more convenient than using filters. So I have removed all my filters and let Gmail do the sorting. I’ve taken a few very items that were sorted and forced them into my “Primary” tab (client’s and colleagues newsletters and my mail from my mom’s group) but other than the things I deem important, most of the other tabs can be looked at once every day or two.

And, hey, if a promotion is over a week old, it’s probably time for it to hit the Trash. There’s something very satisfying about putting mail in trash.

When I was researching this blog post, I found this article from NYMAG that had a (short) history of what email used to look like. This article gave me an urge to dig a little deeper (I have 10 minutes before my next appointment) to find some statistics. For anyone as old as me (or a bit geekier) I bring you this tidbit. When it was closed down in 1989, ihnp4 had a capacity of 50 MG /day UUCP traffic.

So for me, I’ll take the Gmail changes as they are. Like Dylan said, “The times they are a changin’.”

Image courtesy of Ohmega1982 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net