Before I set up email address with Gmail, I really struggled containing my inbox. I would have week/month old emails sitting in my inbox waiting for me to action them.
There was a great inefficiency in the way that I was handling my emails. When I was in my inbox and I could see the emails sitting there, I found that I was often reading them multiple times, deliberating on what to do with them and generally getting sidetracked by non urgent emails.
I went away last week and decided to have an online holiday as well. I did not check my email for six days! When I had been using Outlook, such behaviour would have seen me most likely exceed my mail box storage and a massively overflowing inbox.
Using Gmail effectively though means that my return scenario was very different for the following reasons:
Gmail allows you over 7000MB (and continually growing), so the chances of me exceeding this storage limit are almost impossible.
SKIPPING THE INBOX
I receive email from so many sources on a regular basis that I do like to read, but they do not need my immediate attention. The types of emails that fall into this category are statistic reports, monthly newsletters, subscriptions to my own blogs, etc.
By setting up filters within the settings function of Gmail, I can choose to apply a label to the email and have it skip the inbox completely and be archived under this label. This is a fantastic way to reduce distractions that can arrive in your inbox.
As most people do, I receive regular emails from particular friends or groups that I am working with. In the filters section I can apply a filter to a particular email address, so that it labels the email with that name.
For example I have set up a website for the occasional care centre that my youngest child goes to. Every time I receive an email from my contact person at the centre, it is automatically lablelled “Occassional Care”. Once I have actioned the email, I then simply click on archive button to remove it from my inbox and keep it filed appropriately under “Occassional Care” if I need to recall it later.
Dealing with spam can be a big time waster. The spam filters are so smart on Gmail. Over a week in Outlook, I would receive at least 30 – 40 spam emails in my inbox. In my six day absence, there was no spam in my inbox and only eight in my spam folder.
Gmail groups all replies with their original message, creating a single conversation or thread. Replies to replies (and replies to those replies) are displayed in one place and in order. So when you have been away for multiple days like I had, it made it so much easier to follow the “conversation” of some of my emails. It also reduces the total volume of emails that you see initially in your inbox.
These factors, combined with a more disciplined approach by myself, meant that it took less than an hour to action and tame by inbox back to zero again.
So if you are having trouble managing your inbox and have not yet set up email address with Gmail, I can highly recommend doing so as the first step to effectively managing your inbox to zero.