Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Only 98 emails in 2 weeks: Gmail filtering and labeling minihowto

Yep, only 98 emails to respond to after two full weeks of holiday.
Took only 4 hours to handle them all ... inbox back to zero.
These are *cough* important *cough* emails, emails that demand some kind of response from me.

All other emails are filtered away (out of my inbox) and given an appropriate label. These emails are not essential stuff and clutter my inbox. This group of emails consists of newsletters, notifications, updates, news from different social networks, ... after two weeks I had 900+ of them. I should read/handle most of them, but there is no pressure/urgency to do such.
I use Gmail filters and labels to make these -less important emails- skip my inbox and drop them in a labelled "folder".
Your filters/labels could look like this:
  • Do this: Skip Inbox, Apply label "NEWS"
  • Do this: Skip Inbox, Apply label "DEV"
  • Do this: Skip Inbox, Apply label "BIGBOOBIES"
To filter on multiple email addresses you can simply add "OR" between them (my newsletter-filter contains more than 100 email addresses). You can add a wildmark like "@newsletter.com" in your filter to grab all mails coming from a certain source. You can find other search/filter - operators here.
I admit it took quite some time to set this system up and produce the needed filters. I estimate the setup time (from scratch) at about 5 hours.

The filtered setup boosted my email handling efficiency enormously and greatly improved my focus while working. Furthermore I saw a light at the end of the (email-)tunnel ;)
Another advantage is that I consult my email more via the smartphone. As only stuff that matters comes in my inbox, it makes reading/responding much easier.
I estimate the ROIT (return on invested time) at about 1 month.

No rocket science here, just a very simple little triage that saves me A LOT of time.
Do not forget to backup your filters! (labs -> Filter import/export)

If you know other easy and simple tricks, please let me know!

Posted via email from bartcollet's posterous

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