Controlling your Email Chaos with Gmail

Email. The bane of our existence but something no business can exist without. Like a wild animal, email can be tamed and turned into something that we manage, rather than being managed by. Gmail is an outstanding email client, not only because it is free and gives you easy access to your mail no matter where you are, but also because of the powerful tools it includes to help you tame the beast. Let us take a look at some of these features, including some you might not be aware of.

Use Keyboard Shortcuts

Unless you are using Gmail on a touchscreen device, there are six keyboard shortcuts you can use immediately, and over a dozen more that can be turned on via the Settings menu. These range from basics such as Ctrl+Enter to send your message, to Ctrl+Shift+f to change the “from” address (if you have multiple email addresses configured on your account). The keyboard shortcuts that need to be turned on allow for rapid navigation and editing of messages within Gmail, including moving through your contacts, labels and drafts.

Use Alias-Based Filtering

A feature many users aren’t aware of is using aliases to filter messages. Although you can’t create traditional aliases on Gmail, you are able to modify your address using the + (plus) symbol and . (periods). This allows for almost limitless aliases, distinguishing between and at its simplest, through to combinations involving,, and so on. All of these will still be delivered to your regular Gmail address.

After deciding on which aliases you are going to use, you can now automatically filter messages to each alias by going to Settings>Filters. You can filter using labels, stars and colors, enabling you to quickly differentiate between messages that require immediate attention and those that can wait. It is also an ideal way to filter out any unwanted advertising material.

Connect Messages and To-Do Lists

Gmail allows you to easily add any message to your to-do lists so that you can action it later, without it becoming lost in amongst all your new messages. You can do this individually or in bulk by selecting each message you want in your to-do list, and then clicking on More in the menu bar. From the drop-down list select Add to Tasks, which will open your Google to-do list at the bottom of your screen. You will be able to edit the entry, and create a due date for it, with each item automatically linking back to the original email.

Use Gmail Lab ‘Gadgets’

One of the options under your Settings is for Labs, which is a repository for experimental features that Gmail staff are working on. While some of these features will never make it into the actual Gmail client, they are still worth exploring, allowing to create your own shortcuts, view Google Docs inside messages, even extend the function of Labels. Browse through the selection, and enable any that you believe might help you manage your inbox even better, remembering that since they are experimental they might not always work perfectly.

These are just a few ideas of what you can do in Gmail to make your email more manageable without affecting your productivity. If you have any ideas of your own, feel free to share them in the comments.

About Out of the Office Virtual Assistance:

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Image credit: Gmail! by Cairo | CC BY 2.0