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How to Organize Your Gmail Inbox

how to organize your gmail inbox
cc image courtesy Bhupinder Nayyar via Flickr

Gmail had 425 million users… in 2012! That’s incredible. Though there aren’t any numbers about how many Gmail users there are in 2015, it’s safe to say that Gmail is the world’s most popular email service. We use Gmail at FreightPros.

You probably use Gmail too. And if you do, you know the sinking feeling in your gut when you glance at your current inbox numbers and see four figures. Five figures if you’re lazy (like me). That’s a lot of emails, and a lot of emails to lose other, more important emails in. It’s time to organize your Gmail inbox. We’re going to show you how.

1. Your inbox should be your to-do-list

We’ve talked about to-do lists here at FreightPros. They’re good stuff. But the year is 2015 and writing things down with a pen and paper is so 2014 (I’m kidding). The first step in how to organize your Gmail inbox is view it as your to-do list.

This means the only emails that should be sitting in your inbox are emails that you have yet to read, or tasks you need to finish. Once an email has been dealt with, it’s time for it to say goodbye to the inbox.

2. Labels are the new folders

So where do you move those messages that no longer belong in your inbox? You’re going to archive them. Obviously, you don’t want to delete them. In fact, you probably don’t have to delete any of your emails to get a clean inbox. The archive feature for Gmail is a life saver.

And though you can toss everything into one giant archive and search for what you’re looking for, it’s much easier to apply labels, making them easier to find in the archives. Labels are the new folders. You can color-code them for different subjects. You can search through all the archive, or only certain colors or labels. If you aren’t breaking down your emails into labels, you’re missing out.

3. Star the important stuff

Unsurprisingly, stars can be used to highlight important emails. Star emails that you know you’ll need to reply to, especially days or even weeks later. It’s a key feature in how to organize your Gmail inbox.

It’s also easy to quickly filter all your starred emails for immediate access. But use the starred feature sparingly, or else you’ll end up with a packed “starred inbox,” essentially replacing one inbox problem for another. Speaking of filters…

4. Filters make life easy

Junk mail infiltrates email just as often as it does regular, old snail mail. Credit card offers. Store sales. Stuff like that. By using Gmail filters you can auto-archive emails from certain addresses, or even emails with particular words in the subject line.

Filtered messages are still (like all archived emails) searchable if you really need them. Filters keep your inbox clean from extraneous junk mail. It’s the final step in how to organize your Gmail inbox. And it’s a good one.

And there you have it: How to Organize Your Gmail Inbox. Start off by archiving everything you’ve got in there now. Get your message number down to zero, and then try to hold it at zero by the end of the day.

Have competitions with your co-workers. Your siblings. Whoever. Knock yourself out with all that Gmail organizing! After all, you’ll have extra time since you’re not searching for old-school emails all day long.

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