Email overload is an expensive productivity killer for companies and individuals alike, but there are many ways you can make your inbox bearable.
Want to get rid of a bunch of emails in a jiffy? Or how about a one-click way to escape reply-all hell?
Thanks to a bunch of Chrome extensions, cloud services, and some of Google’s own built-in features, Gmail users have a solid edge in answering those questions in the quest to achieve inbox zero.
Keyboard shortcuts save you plenty of time in sorting through your emails.
Some of the best ones to use: 'e' archives the email you have selected or are currently reading, 'r' is reply, 'a' will reply-all, and '!' will mark an email as spam.
If you want to see everything you can do, hit Shift + ? and Gmail will overlay a full listing.
To turn on keyboard shortcuts, go to the General tab in Settings, then select 'Keyboard shortcuts on.'
Use an alias when websites ask for your email address, so you can have Gmail automatically delete their unwanted emails.
Most people don't know that Gmail doesn't distinguish between different variations on your username. You may be using [email protected], but [email protected] or [email protected] will go to the exact same place.
This is pretty useful if a website is asking for your email address, when you know it's going to be added to their newsletter.
When you sign up, add a + alias (like [email protected]) and create a filter, so Gmail knows these emails aren't that important.
In Gmail, go to Settings, then the Filters tab, and select 'Create a new filter.' Once there, add '[email protected]' in the To: field and hit 'Create filter with this search.'
Now just hit the check box for Delete and click the 'Create Filter' button. Say goodbye to all that future spam.
If you are constantly getting bombarded by email newsletters, you might want to take Unroll.me for a spin.
Once you sign up with the service, it will comb through your inbox and give you a listing of everything you are subscribed to. From there, you can drop the ones you don't want with just one click.
Unroll.me will even combine newsletters you still want to keep around into a single digest.
Reply-all should be used sparingly, but some people still haven't gotten the memo.
Luckily, Gmail has a built-in feature that can spare you from giant email threads you really don't want anymore.
If you want to exit a conversation, just click the More button on your top menu bar, then Mute.
Or even better, use the keyboard shortcut 'm.'
If you're sending off an important email and want to know the second your recipient sees it, Sidekick will do the trick.
Sidekick, a Chrome extension by HubSpot, gives you the option of tracking the emails you send.
Sidekick-enabled emails are tracked for opens -- you'll receive a desktop notification as soon as the other person reads it -- and it will also tell you if they click a link inside.
If you find yourself frequently answering the same emails over and over, you might want to enable Google's 'canned responses.'
First, go to the Labs tab in Settings, and click Enable on 'Canned Responses.' Your inbox should reload and it will be turned on. Now when you reply to an email, type out what your message is going to be.
Before you send, click the down arrow on the right-hand side, and choose Canned Responses > Save New canned response. Give it a name and hit OK.
From now on, if you need to type that message again, you can just use the same drop down menu to quickly insert it, instead of retyping it again and again.
Rapportive is a free Chrome extension that puts a face to that email address.
After it's installed, you'll get a spot placed in your right sidebar for the extension, which displays the person's name, location, current job position and more -- all based off their LinkedIn profile.
Connecting Gmail with If This Then That (IFTTT) opens up a huge world of automation for your inbox.
IFTT has tons of recipes you can use with Gmail, like sending all your 'starred' emails to an Evernote notebook or automatically saving email attachments to your Google Drive.
If you have the internet-connected Philips Hue lighting installed, you can even set Gmail to blink your lights a certain colour when you get an email from a certain address.
Boomerang is another great Chrome extension that adds the ability to 'snooze' incoming and outgoing emails.
If you are emailing late but don't want the other person to know that, you can use Boomerang to send it first thing in the morning instead.
Or if you've got a ton of emails in your inbox that you'd like to just have snoozed so they can come back a week from now (or whenever you want), select the emails, click Boomerang, set a time, and the extension will do the rest.
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