Learn how to boost productivity by utilizing these eight Gmail hacks!
1. Color-Coded Labels
Labels are life. I’ve used labels in Gmail for years and years, but for some reason I didn’t start color coding them until recently and it has much such a difference in my workday flow. Now, when an email comes in my inbox, I immediately (upon reading) assign it a label. The key to label is not over-doing it, but categorizing your top 5-7 priority tasks. For me, it looks a little something like: Top Priority, The List Inquiries, Editorial, Sponsorships, To Do, etc. Then, each of those labels is color coded. I have several other labels, but I leave those grayed out and only color code my main priority labels. This allows me to quickly, at-a-glance see the breakdown of my inbox and take a time-batching approach when it comes to replying (and working toward that seemingly never achievable inbox zero).
2. Undo Send
If you don’t already use the ‘undo send’ feature, you will now. It’s one of the gmail features I use at least five times a day and has saved me SO many times… when I’ve spelled a name wrong, forgot to add an attachment or link, forgot to add an important part of my reply or cc someone, etc. In settings under the general tab, click the “Enable Undo Send.” Once on, you can choose whether you want the delay to be 5, 10, 20 or 30 seconds.
3. Analyze Your Email Activity
If you love Google Analytics like I do, you might just love EmailAnalytics. It’s like Google Analytics for Gmail. It breaks down stats including how many emails you send and receive every day, who is sending you the most emails, what your average reply time is, etc. This is a great way to improve productivity by taking a look at which projects, clients or tasks are taking up most of your time.
4. Canned Responses
How many times have you searched for a previously sent email in your archives that you want to pull text from because you’re sending out a similar message? Canned responses is by far one of the biggest time savers when it comes to email productivity. As a lifestyle publication, this feature is hugely helpful to me personally with editorial submissions, inquires, brand deals, etc. This doesn’t mean my replies are cookie cutter—far from it. By using canned responses, I am able to start with a template and customize as needed.
5. Pause Your Inbox
Scenario: You’re in the middle of replying to an email and that little (1) pops up next to ‘Inbox’… the curiosity eats away at you. You only have a few more sentences to write before sending your currently in-progress email. But what if that (1) is an exciting new opportunity, a new client reply, something you need to read now!? You quickly click to your Inbox, to be disappointed by an email that is of no importance. You then, click on a different email (instead of that in-progress one) and before you know it you’ve gone down the rabbit hole of email crazy. Stop the crazy, with Inbox Pause by Boomerang. It’s a Gmail plugin that literally adds a “pause” button to your inbox. Click the button and you’ll stop receiving new emails until you click it again to “unpause” your inbox, at which time all the emails you received during the time it was paused arrive in your inbox. Studies show that checking email only a few times a day reduces stress and boosts productivity.
6. Choosing Ideal Send Times & Follow Up Emails
In addition to Inbox Pause, with Boomerang, you can write an email now and schedule it to be sent automatically at the perfect time. Just write the messages as you normally would, then click the Send Later button. There are also times you need to make sure you follow up within a specific time frame after sending a message. You can select to only be reminded if nobody replies, or regardless. This way you won’t let messages slip through the crack and will never forget to follow up with people.
7. Hide Snippets
Part of my email mindset and approach is keeping things as simple and as clean as possible. One way I started doing this a couple of years ago was to turn off ‘snippets’ (the first bit of text that follows the subject line of an email in your inbox). By hiding snippets, you will only see the subject line of your emails rather than the first few words of a message. It allows your inbox to breathe a little bit and not feel so overwhelming to look at.
8. Utilize Inbox Type
This might be one of those features that’s right in front of your face every single day but you rarely use it. It was for me. By clicking on the little arrow to the right of ‘Inbox’ you can choose to display unread messages, starred messages, or “important” messages as a first priority.