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16 Less Known Gmail Hacks That Will Super Boost Your Productivity

16 Less Known Gmail Hacks That Will Super Boost Your Productivity

You are probably an ardent user of Gmail and use it almost every day. Do you think you’ve utilized every function of Gmail to ensure maximum productivity when you work? Likely not.

In fact, not all useful Gmail features are spelled out explicitly. So in this article, I will run you through 16 less known Gmail hacks that will super boost your productivity.

1. Unsend a Sent Email

Email blunders are extremely common. An AOL survey, covered by CBS states that around 32% of people accidentally forward the wrong email.

A wrongly sent mail with an undesired attachment or carrying confidential knowledge may create a bad impression as a professional or can even ruin your career.

Keeping this common error in mind, Gmail has created a feature that can help to “unsend” a sent email within a time span of up to 30 seconds.

To do this, simply go to the “Settings” page of your Gmail account. Enable the Undo Send button and set the invalidation period according to your wish. The below given screenshot will help you to understand better.

    2. Get All Emails in One Tab

    Are you the kind of person who hates tab hopping? Would you rather see all your emails at one place rather than different tabs like Social and Promotional?

    This hack ensures that all your emails, irrespective their category are all neatly stacked up in your primary Inbox.

    To achieve this, simply go to the settings of your Gmail and click on the Inbox tab. You can un-select the promotional and social check box and now all your email would be in one place.

    The following screenshot should help:

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      3. Get More Tabs

      However, if you are not someone who likes a laundry list of things, you can likewise add tabs like Updated and Forums and further segregate emails.

      Emails will now automatically be clubbed into the new tabs, helping you focus on important emails.

      4. Self Destruct Email

      Gmail has developed a custom software script that hosts a self-destruct feature. Using this can add a timer to your mail and it will be self-destructed after a certain interval of period.

      This helps when you don’t want an email to be forwarded to someone else. To do this, click on the padlock icon near the send button before you send out the email.

      A new tab named Confidential mode opens with the option of Set Expiration. Make the necessary changes here. Refer to the screenshot and easily self-destruct emails!

        5. Send Mails with a Verification Code

        The confidential mode discussed above also allows you to send an email with a verification encryption sent via SMS to the recipient.

        This will enable you to build an additional coating of security to your mail. Using this feature, you can be sure that the mail is read by the intended recipient only.

          6. Keyboard Alternatives

          If you use your desktop or laptop computer to check your emails, you can use shortcuts from your keyboard to enhance your productivity. Some popular Gmail hacks to improve your productivity are –

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          • Use the alphabet key “N” to read the next message and “P” to read the previous message if you are reading a multi-message conversion.
          • By holding Ctrl + Enter you can send your composed message.

          To utilize the keyboard alternatives, you have to enable it from the settings of your Gmail as given in the screen capture below:

            7. Display Density

            If you are not receiving a lot of emails, I’d recommend you to decrease the display density of your Gmail Inbox.

            It serves like a multi-window function. It is also helpful for you to glance at the just important part of the email.

              8. Reply All

              Occasionally, we forget to select the “Reply All” option while sending a response to multiple recipients.

              However, Gmail has come up with a solution to this problem. Just click on the settings tab and go to the general tab. Scroll down to the “Default Reply Behaviour” and select the Reply all option.

              Now the “Reply All” option will always be the default option selected when conversing with multiple recipients.

                9. Showing Maximum Number of Emails per Page

                If you are receiving too many emails in a day, then you should definitely explore this option.

                It gives you the ability to access more conversations per page. To achieve this, go to settings, click on the General menu bar and scroll down to “ Maximum page size”.

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                Thereafter set the number of conversions you want per page. For reference, check the screenshot given below:

                  10. Conversion View

                  If you are a fan of the classic Gmail, this is a handy hack.

                  To avoid a “thread” view in favor of the old conversation view – just follow these steps. Go to the General menu in the setting tab and simply scroll down to the “Conversion View” and select the option “conversion view off”. Refer to the screen capture underneath.

                    11. Desktop Notification

                    If you live off your emails, then this is a great option. You can simply add a chrome extension of Gmail or go to Settings > General > Desktop Notification and turn it on. It is also extremely helpful if you have set up email alerts for critical functions . The screenshot shared below will help you get it set up.

                      12. Advanced Search

                      This is one of my favorites of all the features. You probably would be using the regular search feature for your Gmail.

                      However, with the sheer amount of emails in the inbox, it is difficult to find specific information. This is where advanced search comes in.

                      Using this feature you can search a specific mail among hundreds of email of your inbox by applying useful filters as illustrated below:

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                        13. Insert Google Drive Files

                        Need to send a large file? Not a problem with Gmail’s new integration feature. You can insert Google drive files as attachments to your mail.

                        Simply click on the Google drive icon on the lowermost portion of the window. It will convert your file as a link or an attachment as shown below:

                          14. Right Click Menu

                          Previously absent from the classic feature. The good old right click is here. Now if you right click on your emails, you can get the option to mark it Unread, Archive, or remove a message. All at a click of a button, straight from your Inbox page.

                          15. Vacation Responder

                          On leave? Don’t have time to reply to all the email you get? Head to the auto-responder option in Gmail.

                          You can customize what message you want to send out to people. To activate it, simply go to settings, click on general tab and scroll down to the vacation responder.

                            16. Account Recovery

                            I get at least one email a day that is spam that tries to hack into my account. So for security purposes, do update your account recovery options. This will be helpful when you are unable to remember your password or have been hacked.

                            It is just a series of questions you need to set up while opening the account (or update later on).

                            Additional tip: You’d need to remember the answers. So choose something you have negligible chance of forgetting or getting it wrong.

                            The Bottom Line

                            If you spend considerable amount of time on Gmail, theses hacks are sure to boost your productivity and better your email using experience.

                            Start adjusting your Gmail settings and make use of all these hacks for maximum productivity!

                            Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

                            More by this author

                            Harsh Binani

                            Harsh has helped a lot of multi-national corporations and startups to leverage technology for greater productivity.

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                            Last Updated on April 19, 2021

                            The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

                            The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

                            Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

                            The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

                            Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

                            In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

                            When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

                            Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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                            1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

                            When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

                            As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

                            That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

                            The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

                            What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

                            Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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                            There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

                            So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

                            2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

                            When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

                            No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

                            3. Move Your Body

                            A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

                            It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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                            So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

                            4. Connect With Another Person

                            Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

                            One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

                            Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

                            5. Use Your Imagination

                            When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

                            That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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                            And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

                            Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

                            Final Thoughts

                            Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

                            Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

                            More on the Importance of Taking a Break

                            Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

                            Reference

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