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5 Gmail Filters to Get You to Inbox Zero

5 Gmail Filters to Get You to Inbox Zero

The elusive Inbox Zero. It’s the moment when you have all of your “inputs” somewhat dealt with and the the slate is clear for you to concentrate on what is truly important. Some people think that it’s simply getting your entire email inbox to no emails. If that is the case, I could do that pretty easily by selecting all email and trashing it.

That’s not necessarily the point.

Inbox Zero is a state where we have our decks cleared, have the right things in the right places, and we can start to work on what is important. But, we can use some hacks to get us to this state a little bit easier everyday.

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Use the 5 Gmail filters to help clear out your inbox, achieve Inbox Zero, and free up the time and space to get done what really matters.

  1. The “you email me too much and you are going to get ignored” filter.This is one of my favorite filters that I have ever used and by far the one that gets the most use. Basically, if you get too much email from someone and you don’t want to see it in your inbox day-in and day-out, add the sender to the “From:” field in the filter.
      Using OR statements to combine email addresses
        Archiving and labeling email

        Depending on how much you really don’t want to see this person’s emails, you can either trash the email immediately (essentially turning this filter into a blacklist), or be a little more humane and give the email a “Review” label for later review.

        As more and more people keep sending you more and more email that you don’t want to see, you can simply add them to the “From:” field in the filter preceded by an OR operator.

      • The newsletter review filterSome people like getting a bunch of newsletters; really, they all aren’t that bad. One thing that I can’t stand is diving into a some unprocessed emails and seeing a newsletter that seems interesting. 30 minutes later after I have read it and probably clicked through to watch some video or comment somewhere else I wonder where time has gone.

        It doesn’t have to be this way. One way to clear out a bunch of these emails is to search the content of the email for “unsubscribe here OR unsubscribe”. Since it’s “unlawful” for individuals and companies to send email that you signed up for without an unsubscribe link, chances are you are going to catch most if not all of these newsletter emails this way. After you find these emails check Skip the inbox (Archive it) and choose which label you want to give it (I go with something like Read/Review). Now you can review these newsletters on your own time.

          Search for unsubscribe here OR unsubscribe

        • The social reviewIn the same vein as the last filter, if you get a lot of email notifications for social networks and you still want to receive and review them, you can set up a filter with a subject search of all of the social networks you are involved with. For instance you could say “facebook OR twitter OR linkedin OR google+ OR”, you get the idea.

          You can then Archive these and give them a label. Sometimes, a filter like this can be overzealous, like if you are waiting on an email with the subject of “Facebook wants to buy your company for a billion dollars”. But, as long as you review this label every couple of days you won’t lose anything important.

        • Get notified fastAll of these filters are great, but what if you are waiting for a specific email from someone and you don’t want to keep checking your inbox every 30 seconds? Well, then you can set up what I like to call “the poor man’s AwayFind”. All you need is a cell phone for this.

          Set a filter with the To: field from the email address you are waiting on a message from. Then, set the search to foward to a different address. Instead of forwarding to another email address, you are going to set up an forward address to your phone number. Follow this format of address for your carrier.

            Add a forwarding address
              Forward the important email to your phone

              I’m with Verizon, so my address is forwarded to [email protected] (couldn’t get the MMS address work). Gmail will send you a confirmation code, confirm the email address, and boom: you now get text notifications of any sender you deem as important.

            • Set yourself up to keep projects aliveOne of the best things that I have learned from GTD is to keep a “waiting for” list. It allows me to keep track of everything that I have outside of myself pending to be done.

              I have an @Waiting label in Gmail that I use all the time. Anything that I need to follow up on gets this label. I move a lot of email here manually, but you can set up a filter that can apply this label automatically when you send an email.

              Create an email with the From: filled out as your email address and the content of the email searching for something like “_wf_” (without the quotes). Then assign this message an @Waiting label. When you send an email to someone that you want to track it as something you are waiting on, after your signature simply type “_wf_”. After it sends it will be caught by your @Waiting label for further follow up.

              Waiting for filter will keep your projects alive

              Getting to Inbox Zero isn’t as hard as you think. Use these Gmail filters to set up your system so you can concentrate more on important work rather than checking your inbox.

              (Photo credit: Mailslot via Shutterstock)

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              More by this author

              CM Smith

              A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

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              Last Updated on May 24, 2019

              How to Be Productive at Home and Make Every Day a Productive Day

              How to Be Productive at Home and Make Every Day a Productive Day

              If you’ve ever wondered how to be productive at home or how you could possibly have a more productive day, look no further.

              Below you’ll find six easy tips that will help you make the most out of your time:

              1. Create a Good Morning Routine

              One of the best ways to start your day is to get up early and eat a healthy breakfast.

              CEOs and other successful people have similar morning routines, which include exercising and quickly scanning their inboxes to find the most urgent tasks.[1]

              You can also try writing first thing in the morning to warm up your brain[2] (750 words will help with that). But no matter what you choose to do, remember to create good morning habits so that you can have a more productive day.

              If you aren’t sure how to make morning routine work for you, this guide will help you:

              The Ultimate Morning Routine to Make You Happy And Productive All Day

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              2. Prioritize

              Sometimes we can’t have a productive day because we just don’t know where to start. When that’s the case, the most simple solution is to list everything you need to get accomplished, then prioritize these tasks based on importance and urgency.

              Week Plan is a simple web app that will help you prioritize your week using the Covey time management grid. Here’s an example of it:[3]

                If you get the most pressing and important items done first, you will be able to be more productive while keeping stress levels down.

                Lifehack’s CEO, Leon, also has great advice on how to prioritize. Take a look at this article to learn more about it:

                How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

                3. Focus on One Thing at a Time

                One of the biggest killers of productivity is distractions. Whether it be noise or thoughts or games, distractions are a barrier to any productive day. That’s why it’s important to know where and when you work best.

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                Need a little background noise to keep you on track? Try working in a coffee shop.

                Can’t stand to hear even the ticking of a clock while writing? Go to a library and put in your headphones.

                Don’t be afraid to utilize technology to make the best of your time. Sites like [email protected] and Simply Noise can help keep you focused and productive all day long.

                And here’s some great apps to help you focus: 10 Online Apps for Better Focus

                4. Take Breaks

                Focusing, however, can drain a lot of energy and too much of it at once can quickly turn your productive day unproductive.

                To reduce mental fatigue while staying on task, try using the Pomodoro Technique. It requires working on a task for 25 minutes, then taking a short break before another 25 minute session.

                After four “pomodoro sessions,” be sure to take a longer break to rest and reflect.

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                I like to work in 25 and 5 minute increments, but you should find out what works best for you.

                5. Manage Your Time Effectively

                A learning strategies consultant once told me that there is no such thing as free time, only unstructured time.

                How do you know when exactly you have free time?

                By using the RescueTime app, you can see when you have free time, when you are productive, and when you actually waste time.

                With this data, you can better plan out your day and keep yourself on track.

                Moreover, you can increase the quality of low-intensity time. For example, reading the news while exercising or listening to meeting notes while cooking. Many of the mundane tasks we routinely accomplish can be paired with other tasks that lead to an overall more productive day.

                A bonus tip, even your real free time can be used productively, find out how:

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                20 Productive Ways to Use Your Free Time

                6. Celebrate and Reflect

                No matter how you execute a productive day, make sure to take time and celebrate what you’ve accomplished. It’s important to reward yourself so that you can continue doing great work. Plus, a reward system is an incredible motivator.

                Additionally, you should reflect on your day in order to find out what worked and what didn’t. Reflection not only increases future productivity, but also gives your brain time to decompress and de-stress.

                Try these 10 questions for daily self reflection.

                More Articles About Daily Productivity

                Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

                Reference

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