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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.

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        Last Updated on August 16, 2018

        The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

        The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

        No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

        Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

        Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system”.

        A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

        Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

        In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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        The power of habit

        A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

        For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

        This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

        The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

        That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being six hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

        Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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        The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

        Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

        But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

        The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

        The wonderful thing about triggers (reminders)

        A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

        For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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        But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

        If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

        For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

        These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

        For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

        How to make a reminder works for you

        Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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        Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

        Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

        My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

        Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

        I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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