Trying to organize your email, especially if your inbox fills up fast – not easy. I use Gmail for my personal email and I forward my business email here, too. Plus, I generally have multiple irons in the fire.
I tried all the tricks. First, I tried to create rules. But the Google tabs and their rules kept getting foiling my best efforts. Then, I created 18000 folders. Then I forgot about the email once it was so nicely tucked away.
Then I heard about the Google Labs for multiple inboxes.
Google Labs is the testing ground for new features. You should definitely explore in there – once you’ve got this set up. After all, isn’t this whole exercise about focus?
First things first, let’s get rid of the Google-suggested tabs, if you haven’t already.
Click on the gear icon on the right-hand side. Choose settings from the drop down menu.
Choose Inbox and deselect tabs.
Deselect social, promotions or whichever tabs you have checked off. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and save your changes.
This will kick you back out to your inbox. Select the gear icon on the top right and hop back into your settings.
Head into the Labels tab to create folders. Scroll down until you see the option.
Create folders like ‘Follow Up’ or ‘Action Needed’ or ‘To Do’. Action words will trigger you to take action. Hopefully.
If it’s not immediately visible, type in ‘multiple inboxes’ and enable. Save your changes.
Again, this will kick you back out to your inbox. Select the gear icon on the top right and go back to settings.
Manage multiple inboxes.
Here’s where the magic happens. Choose ‘multiple inboxes’ from the menu along the top of the window. You now have the option to create up to five panes.
Note the “is:” command in the search query. Also, if you have punctuation in your folder name, that needs to be included in the search query. Last, instead of spaces, use hyphens.
The Panel Title is optional, but I like to label mine with kick-in-the-butt action words. They don’t have to match your folder name.
You also have options to choose how many conversations each pane displays and where you’d like to see the panes on your screen.
Save your changes, and yes, Gmail will kick you back to your main inbox screen. But you’ll see…
A whole new *organized* world.
Now it’s up to you to strive for INBOX ZERO each day. When you complete the tasks in your new inboxes, archive them in a folder rather than keeping them around.
Go forth and prosper!
Wait – did I miss anything? Leave a comment if I’ve left something out or if you have your own way to organize email you’d like to share.
Okay, the lesson’s over. Now you can also go back into Labs and see what else you can use in there. Some of those features are pretty cool.