While e-mail organization might not be the sexiest of topics, it is key to keeping your personal life and/or business organized. As it is my main mode of communicating with customers, planning fundraisers and managing a team of volunteers, and making plans with friends, it is key that I keep on top of it organized it especially since that I have limited time to check it as I have a busy toddler who is awake many hours of the day. I’ll admit, there are days where I feel completely overwhelmed by my inbox (because who seriously has time to go through hundreds of e-mails each day?)
I’m going to let you in on a little secret of how I keep my world in order: Google.
I find Google products, including Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Calendar, to be essential for keeping myself and my family organized. If I don’t write things down and keep them in one space I will never remember them or find them. I’m also all about breaking things down and labeling them. I find this to be especially important for big, unwieldy things like checking my e-mail. Today I’m going to help you to tackle and organize your Google inbox with two of my favorite tools: labels and filters.
I have all of my e-mail, including my business e-mail, go to one inbox. While on the one hand it’s really convenient because it means I only have to lot into one place to check it, it can also be a little overwhelming sometimes. Every day I’m inundated with more e-mails than I could possibly go through. To make it more manageable I have systems in place for my Gmail using labels and filters to help me keep it organized. I’m also a visual person and I like creating labels with different color tags for different e-mails and projects so I can easily scan my e-mail to see to what my messages pertain. For example, if anyone sends me an e-mail to my business e-mail address Gmail automatically labels it Linkouture and puts a handy purple tag in front of it.
To set up labels, click on the gear below you name and click on “Settings”
Click on the second tab, “Labels,” and scroll down to the third bolded category where it says “Labels”.
Click on “Create new label” and create categories for things that make sense to you. For example, when my husband and I were planning our wedding I created a label for anything wedding related and when we moved I had one labeled “Moving”.
Once your labels are set up, you can easily label your messages by clicking on the box to the left of your e-mail message. When you do that, a little tag icon will appear and you can choose a label for it.
You can also easily create new labels here and add more than one label to a message. You can use labels for each of your children, different projects you are working on, events you are planning, upcoming trips — anything that makes sense for you and will help you to organize your e-mails.
Once something is labeled you can Archive it so it is no longer in your main e-mail inbox. You can easily see all the messages with that label (and access archived messages) by hovering your mouse all the way on the left where it says “Inbox”. All of your labels will show up as different categories. You can click on it to access to see just the e-mails with that label instead of scrolling through your entire inbox trying to find an e-mail about a specific topic.
Another great feature is to have e-mails with a certain subject line, that contain a specific keyword, are sent to a specific e-mail or are sent from a certain e-mail filter into one of these labeled categories instead of going right to your inbox. I find this to be really handy for things like listservs I’m on that tend to send a ton of e-mails each day and would otherwise clog up my main inbox (and completely overwhelm me). It’s also a great tool if you have multiple e-mail addresses forwarded to one e-mail address but you want to keep them separate.
To set up filters, click on the gear icon like you did to set up your labels and click on “Settings”. Click on “Filters” and click on “Create New Filter” at the bottom.
When that screen pops up, decide on what type of filter you want. Do you want it to be from a certain e-mail address? Contaiing a certain word or group of words? Once you have decided and filled out what type of filter you want, click on “Create filter with this search”.
On the next screen you will have the ability to choose to have it automatically labeled, skip to a different inbox, etc.
Next month I’ll be sharing some tips for using Google Calendar and Google Drive for keeping your life in order. In the meantime, for more simple tips for keeping on top of things, be sure to check out my posts on five ridiculously simple things I do to stay on task and eight tips for managing your time better.
This post first appeared on A Dish of Daily Life.
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