Tuesday, February 24, 2009

«Gmail Sorting Technique»

I have a specific system that I use to manage my email. You may have a different system, and I'd like to hear about it in the comments. I use my Gmail account for all my email. Even the mail sent to my official website contact address gets forwarded to Gmail and is treated the same way.

I don't really throw much away other than spam. I love the archive feature of Gmail. On many occasions I've searched back in the archive for something. However, I usually only archive an email when I feel I'm done with it. Another feature I love about Gmail are the labels. It makes it so much easier to categorize and color-code emails. I have tons of automated filters (some quite complicated) that sort most of my incoming email into their appropriate labels.

So what I see in my inbox are emails that have already been sorted automatically thanks to my filters (one less thing I have to do manually). From there, I read any new bold-face emails. Some don't require much action after reading them and can be archived.

Others however, I want to reply to. I may not think up a reply right away or may not have the time to. So those ones I leave in my inbox until I decide to take action on them. I'll also leave blog comment notification emails in my inbox until I've decided if I am going to respond to the comment. Basically anything that I leave in my inbox I have plans to take action on. After I've taken that action, I archive it.

If I'm too indecisive about an email and it sits in my inbox for a long time, I'll star it with the special purple question mark superstar, then archive it. I can always find it again easily by looking in my starred emails if I decide to do anything with it at some point.

My official website contact address gets special treatment in that it gets its own inbox using the new multiple inbox feature. I have a filter that assigns a label to all mail sent to or from that address. I then have my multiple inbox set to show only mail with that label and is in my inbox. I use the search term [in:inbox AND label:label name] (without the brackets).

Anyway, this system works quite well for me. I rarely have much buildup and am often able to reach inbox=0. FYI: the empty inbox message in Gmail is:

No new mail! Want to read updates from your favorite sites? Try Google Reader

I bet that a lot of Gmail users never get to see that message!


  1. Hi Marf,
    I use my gmail in a very similar way. Using filters to pre-apply labels is a great help.
    I don't get round to archiving as often as I should though.

  2. @ Bunc: Yeah, a lot of people don't. People tend to allow email to build up in their inbox.

  3. Or, like me, just have about a dozen email addy's. I'm pretty sure you know them all by now.


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