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New Gmail Filter Hacks

New Gmail Filter Hacks

We can make this a running discussion of uses for Gmail’s Filter feature. It’s a simple tool that makes organizing your emails a breeze, and importantly, automatic. Today we’ll focus on three topics: Storage, Bookmarking and Organization [GTD].

Either in Settings or next to Gmail’s search box, is a link to Create a Filter.

  • When adding a filter we enter some parameters like who the email is from or what the subject line contains etc.
  • Next step, we check Skip the Inbox, add the Label we want the email to be sorted to, check Apply to conversations below and Create Filter.

That’s a simple process that we will repeat for the following hacks.

New Gmail Filter Hacks

    Storage

    There are two handy programs out there that turn that free 2.something gig on your Gmail account into real space. This is great to keep certain files mobile and accessible.

    GSpace is a firefox extension that creates a direct link through your browser to that disk space. It will create an icon in your status bar that, when clicked, will open a dialog box to add and extract files from.

    You can drag files directly from your browser, but it’s somewhat temperamental. However, this extension’s strength lies in the ability to manage multiple Gmail accounts.

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    Gmail Drive is a “Shell Namespace Extension that creates a virtual filesystem around your Google Gmail account,” to quote the website. This enables you to use your Gmail storage as another drive on your computer.

    This works very well and enables you to throw any filetype in there – you just need to login. Since we’ve created another drive, you can treat it as such and organize files into folders.

    Each time you add a file to your Gmail drive, via either application, it will show up in your inbox as another email. So instead, we create a few filters so your inbox isn’t filled with emails each time a file is uploaded.

    Each file added from the Firefox extension will come into Gmail, as an email, with “GSPACE” in the subject line. So create a filter with “GSPACE” as the subject, and a Label called something like Drive.

    The same applies for the Gmail Drive uploads, however, use a filter with the subject line, “GMAILFS”. Now, here’s the good bit.

    If you do happen to upload files into separate folders on the drive – MP3s, Documents etc – we can create a different label for each, so your files are not only organized inside the drive, but also out on your Gmail.

    All we need to do is append GMAILFS with the folder name ie: “GMAILFS: /mp3s/” filtered to a label called MP3s. There is no way to create a label hierarchy, so labels should be used more like tags.

    With Gmail Drive you can move existing files around into new folders. Keep in mind, a new email will be sent through for each change.

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    Bookmarking

    This hack relies on a site called RSSFWD.com or something like it. There you can forward any RSS feed to your email, without having to register. Each update will come through to your email with the feed’s post as it’s content.

    A handy way to keep all your bookmarks stored in Gmail – with the added benefit of Gmail’s search – is to use your bookmark’s feed through RSSFWD so all your bookmarks come through your Gmail.

    I use my del.icio.us account so each site I tag, will come through. All I really have to do is create a filter for anything from del.icio.us to be archived in a label called Bookmarks.

    The beauty here is, say I use a range of bookmarking sites, I can have all of them stored in one place.

    Organization or GTD

    There is already a Firefox extension called GTDinbox that implements GTD styled filters and organization within Gmail. You can send yourself tasks, keep track of outstanding tasks and even print HipsterPDA-friendly index cards. Also 43Folders suggested this kind of filtering back in 2004, so it’s not a new idea.

    However, it’s worth mentioning a few things that may not have been covered yet.

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    First of all, it should be mentioned that creating your own GTD Gmail is as simple as setting your labels [ToDo, Someday/Maybe, Projects etc] and creating filters using the username+ function.

    For example: Anything I send to username+todo@gmail.com will get filtered off to my ToDo list. Add information and links that may help the task and just delete tasks as they are completed.

    If you need a reminder for a future event or task, you can Add Event Info to any email and specify a date for the task to occur. If you have Notifications set to Email in your Google Calendar settings, you will be reminded to act on the email at that time.

    New Gmail Filter Hacks - Label Search

      Let’s look back at the RSSFWD program. We can integrate a lot of things with Gmail, as long as there is an RSS Feed.

      Twitter

      Try Twitter. It’s all the rage and has a feed.

      Create a Twitter account just for your tasks. Add it’s feed to RSSFWD and let it roll through the ToDo filter in your Gmail account. Now you can add tasks via IM and your mobile’s SMS straight to Gmail.

      If you preface each ‘Tweet’ with where you want it to go, in Gmail, you can organize your Twitter feed just by refining the parameters of your filter to include a keyword.

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      For example: “TODO email jack” through Twitter could go through a filter with “Twitter” and “Todo” as parameters.

      Flickr

      Your Flickr photos have a feed. Add a filter with the parameter From: ‘Your’ Photos and utilize Gmail’s search to find the photo you want.

      Want a family member or friend to know when you’ve added a new photo? You can forward emails within a filter to a particular email address. You’ll just need to create a new filter for each email you want to forward to.

      New Gmail Filter Hacks - Camera

        Also don’t forget you could just put any feed you like to read through RSSFWD, set it to send to username+anyfeed@gmail.com and create a filter for that email to forward to a label for anyfeed.

        Tip of the iceberg? Have some more interesting ways to use Gmail’s filters? We’d like to hear them.

        More by this author

        Craig Childs

        Craig is an editor and web developer who writes about happiness and motivation at Lifehack

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        Last Updated on October 15, 2019

        Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

        Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

        Procrastination is very literally the opposite of productivity. To produce something is to pull it forward, while to procrastinate is to push it forward — to tomorrow, to next week, or ultimately to never.

        Procrastination fills us with shame — we curse ourselves for our laziness, our inability to focus on the task at hand, our tendency to be easily led into easier and more immediate gratifications. And with good reason: for the most part, time spent procrastinating is time spent not doing things that are, in some way or other, important to us.

        There is a positive side to procrastination, but it’s important not to confuse procrastination at its best with everyday garden-variety procrastination.

        Sometimes — sometimes! — procrastination gives us the time we need to sort through a thorny issue or to generate ideas. In those rare instances, we should embrace procrastination — even as we push it away the rest of the time.

        Why we procrastinate after all

        We procrastinate for a number of reasons, some better than others. One reason we procrastinate is that, while we know what we want to do, we need time to let the ideas “ferment” before we are ready to sit down and put them into action.

        Some might call this “creative faffing”; I call it, following copywriter Ray Del Savio’s lead, “concepting”.[1]

        Whatever you choose to call it, it’s the time spent dreaming up what you want to say or do, weighing ideas in your mind, following false leads and tearing off on mental wild goose chases, and generally thinking things through.

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        To the outside observer, concepting looks like… well, like nothing much at all. Maybe you’re leaning back in your chair, feet up, staring at the wall or ceiling, or laying in bed apparently dozing, or looking out over the skyline or feeding pigeons in the park or fiddling with the Japanese vinyl toys that stand watch over your desk.

        If ideas are the lifeblood of your work, you have to make time for concepting, and you have to overcome the sensation— often overpowering in our work-obsessed culture — that faffing, however creative, is not work.

        So, is procrastination bad?

        Yes it is.

        Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re “concepting” when in fact you’re just not sure what you’re supposed to be doing.

        Spending an hour staring at the wall while thinking up the perfect tagline for a marketing campaign is creative faffing; staring at the wall for an hour because you don’t know how to come up with a tagline, or don’t know the product you’re marketing well enough to come up with one, is just wasting time.

        Lack of definition is perhaps the biggest friend of your procrastination demons. When we’re not sure what to do — whether because we haven’t planned thoroughly enough, we haven’t specified the scope of what we hope to accomplish in the immediate present, or we lack important information, skills, or resources to get the job done.

        It’s easy to get distracted or to trick ourselves into spinning our wheels doing nothing. It takes our mind off the uncomfortable sensation of failing to make progress on something important.

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        The answer to this is in planning and scheduling. Rather than giving yourself an unspecified length of time to perform an unspecified task (“Let’s see, I guess I’ll work on that spreadsheet for a while”) give yourself a limited amount of time to work on a clearly defined task (“Now I’ll enter the figures from last months sales report into the spreadsheet for an hour”).

        Giving yourself a deadline, even an artificial one, helps build a sense of urgency and also offers the promise of time to “screw around” later, once more important things are done.

        For larger projects, planning plays a huge role in whether or not you’ll spend too much time procrastinating to reach the end reasonably quickly.

        A good plan not only lists the steps you have to take to reach the end, but takes into account the resources, knowledge and inputs from other people you’re going to need to perform those steps.

        Instead of futzing around doing nothing because you don’t have last month’s sales report, getting the report should be a step in the project.

        Otherwise, you’ll spend time cooling your heels, justifying your lack of action as necessary: you aren’t wasting time because you want to, but because you have to.

        How bad procrastination can be

        Our mind can often trick us into procrastinating, often to the point that we don’t realize we’re procrastinating at all.

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        After all, we have lots and lots of things to do; if we’re working on something, aren’t we being productive – even if the one big thing we need to work on doesn’t get done?

        One way this plays out is that we scan our to-do list, skipping over the big challenging projects in favor of the short, easy projects. At the end of the day, we feel very productive: we’ve crossed twelve things off our list!

        That big project we didn’t work on gets put onto the next day’s list, and when the same thing happens, it gets moved forward again. And again.

        Big tasks often present us with the problem above – we aren’t sure what to do exactly, so we look for other ways to occupy ourselves.

        In many cases too, big tasks aren’t really tasks at all; they’re aggregates of many smaller tasks. If something’s sitting on your list for a long time, each day getting skipped over in favor of more immediately doable tasks, it’s probably not very well thought out.

        You’re actively resisting it because you don’t really know what it is. Try to break it down into a set of small tasks, something more like the tasks you are doing in place of the one big task you aren’t doing.

        More consequences of procrastination can be found in this article:

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        8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life

        Procrastination, a technical failure

        Procrastination is, more often than not, a sign of a technical failure, not a moral failure.

        It’s not because we’re bad people that we procrastinate. Most times, procrastination serves as a symptom of something more fundamentally wrong with the tasks we’ve set ourselves.

        It’s important to keep an eye on our procrastinating tendencies, to ask ourselves whenever we notice ourselves pushing things forward what it is about the task we’ve set ourselves that simply isn’t working for us.

        Featured photo credit: chuttersnap via unsplash.com

        Reference

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