If like me you are a Gmail enthusiast, you are probably finding it can improve your productivity considerably. A recent article by PCmag offers some Best Practices for Gmail in order to to Get Organized. The article is a good rundown on the use of labels but does not offer much that is new. Nevertheless its advice that most email messages should be archived in the abundant storage space that Gmail provides rather than being deleted is excellent.
A better source of ideas for Gmail users at any level of competence is available from Google itself in its Gmail Tips. This is a really rich resource and will well repay whatever effort you put into reading it.
There are three other tips that I find materially improve my email office efficiency and which are not included in any of these source documents. These cover the following topics:
- Start Important Labels with _ (the underscore)
- Color Important Labels
- Split A Conversation by Forwarding With A Changed Subject.
I apply all three and I would recommend that you check out what they can do for you.
Start Important Labels with _ (the underscore)
It is almost standard that the default way of displaying a list of items, whether they are folders or files, will be in alphabetical order. This is also true for the labels in Gmail. It would be useful if ahead of this alphabetical list you could pull out the important folders that you wish to tackle first. A simple way of doing this is to start the label name with an underscore. This is one of the few characters that is allowed in folder names and comes first alphabetically. You can find more discussion on this in an article, _ First.
To illustrate how this works out, the image on the right shows the drop-down of possibilities when you are considering using Move To for Gmail message. The three key labels I use are ACTION, Priority and ToDo. By using a label that starts with the underscore I ensure these three possibilities come to the top of the list.
This is also the same order that is displayed for the labels in the left-hand column, as shown in the image on the left, so again the most important are at the top.
Although these are important folders, the labels are used only on a temporary basis until the message content has been handled. In addition I arrange that any message has one or more other labels to identify the issue it deals with. Once the important action has been taken, then the important label would be removed and the message is then archived under the other labels that apply to it.
Color Important Labels
Again as PCmag reminds us, using color can be a great help when organizing data in quickly spotting a particular folder or label. Labels can be assigned colors in Gmail but unfortunately it is not obvious how this is done. If you go to the settings page for labels there is no mention at all of how to apply a color to a label.
What you must do is to allow your mouse to hover over the label in the left-hand column to which you wish to apply a color. If you click on the downward arrow that appears as shown in the left-hand image, then you will find the drop-down below appears.
In this you can choose the color you wish to apply to this particular label. As usual, Google leaves it to the keen user to search for the less than obvious way of doing things.
Split A Conversation by Forwarding With A Changed Subject.
One of the extremely useful features in Google is that it displays messages in conversations. In a minority of cases this can be a problem where you receive messages with the same title from the same source. These will all be grouped into one conversation even though they may refer to write different topics. This presents a dilemma in trying to remember what has been handled and what is yet to be handled.
The only way to handle this seems to be to forward each of the individual messages to yourself but changing the subject on each. So if the original conversation had three messages, by forwarding like this you create three individual messages. You can then delete the conversation and still have the three individual messages to be handled independently.
In general the Gmail way of handling messages seems to be very effective. This is the only problem I am aware of and this forwarding solution involves only a minimal amount of extra time to resolve the issue.
Do you have a Gmail tip that others may not know
It would be helpful to other readers to hear your views on the above tips by commenting below. I would also encourage you to add in any other not-so-well-known tips that help you work more efficiently with Gmail.