For most of us, keeping up with email takes up a significantly larger portion of our day than it should. In fact, it can feel like you’re entire job is to read and answer emails. When will you ever get any actual work done?
There are lots of different strategies for dealing with out-of-control-inbox syndrome—like designating specific times for email and sticking to those hours or setting an out-of-office that alerts people to when you will and won’t respond—but here’s a simple one you may not have tried.
If you’re like almost everyone I encounter on a daily basis and use Gmail, you can easily set gmail filters. Filters can auto-organize your mail in some pretty cool ways if you use them right.
Why use Filters?
Say things get buried in your inbox often and you want to make sure you never miss emails from someone important. You could set a filter that puts your boss, business partner, or assistant’s email in the From field, and then depending on how you like to organize your inbox, choose Star it, Mark it as Important, or Apply a Label (in the last case you’d need to create a Label first, like one called “READ RIGHT NOW!” for example ). Then, every time that person emailed you, their message would be marked in a way that would alert you to its importance over other emails.
Another scenario: If you manage requests coming in from a website that always have the same word in the subject line or are in a field where people send you pitches for products or stories, you can create gmail filters using a world that’s always in those messages, apply a label, and even choose “Skip the Inbox.” This will put all of those messages in a nice folder (Labels essentially act like folders, too) for you that you can check whenever you’re ready, rather than having them crowd up your inbox.
How to create gmail filters
From your Inbox, click on the wheel icon in the top right-hand corner and scroll down to Settings. Within Settings, the menu options appear across the top in blue. Tab over to Filters and Blocked Addresses and then click Create New Filter.
This will bring you to the gmail filters screen where you choose how you want incoming emails to be filtered. You can filter based on who the email is from, what’s in the subject line, words the email has or doesn’t have, and more.
Fill in at least one field and then click Create Filter with This Search.
In the next screen, you choose what you want Gmail to do with the messages it finds that meet your criteria. Options include Star it, Forward it, Delete it, Apply a Label, and more. When your’e done, create the filter.
There are a million other ways to use filters, so I suggest playing around with them depending on your business and specific needs, until you find a system that seems to help you stay organized.
Do you already use filters in some creative way? Share with me in the comments, below, so we can learn from each other!