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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 1234567890@vtext.com (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 September 24, 2020

              17 Ways Learn New Skills Faster and Enjoy the Process

              17 Ways Learn New Skills Faster and Enjoy the Process

              In the movie The Matrix, everyone was intrigued with the ability that Neo and his friends possessed to learn new skills in a matter of seconds. With the incredible rise in technology today, the rapid learning in the movie is becoming much more of a reality than you realize.

              The current generation has access to more knowledge and information than any before it. Through the internet, we are able to access all sorts of knowledge to answer almost every conceivable question. To become smarter, it’s more about the ability to learn faster, rather than being a natural born genius.

              Here are 17 ways to kickstart your Matrix-style learning experience in a short amount of time.

              1. Deconstruct and Reverse Engineer

              Break down the skill that you want to learn into little pieces and learn techniques to master an isolated portion. The small pieces will come together to make up the whole skill.

              For example, when you’re learning to play the guitar, learn how to press down a chord pattern with your fingers first without even trying to strum the chord. Once you are able to change between a couple of chord patterns, then add the strumming.

              2. Use the Pareto Principle

              Use the Pareto Principle, which is also known as the 80 20 rule. Identify the 20% of the work that will give you 80% of the results. Find out more about the 80 20 rule here: What Is the 80 20 Rule (And How to Use It to Boost Productivity)

              Take learning a new language for example. It does not take long to realize that some words pop up over and over again as you’re learning. You can do a quick search for “most commonly used French words,” for example, and begin to learn them first before adding on the rest.

              3. Make Stakes

              Establish some sort of punishment for not learning the skill that you are seeking. There are sites available that allow you to make a donation toward a charity you absolutely hate if you do not meet your goals. Or you can place a bet with a friend to light that fire under you.

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              However, keep in mind that several studies have shown that rewards tend to be more motivating than punishment[1].

              4. Record Yourself

              Seeing yourself on video is a great way to learn from your mistakes and identify areas that you need to improve. This is very effective for any musicians, actors, speakers, performers, and dancers.

              5. Join a Group

              There are huge benefits to learning in a group. Not only are you able to learn from others but you’ll be encouraged to make progress together. Whether it’s a chess club, a mastermind group, or an online meet-up group, get connected with other like-minded individuals.

              6. Time Travel

              Visit the library. Although everything is moving more and more online, there are still such things called libraries.

              Whether it’s a municipal library or your university library, you will be amazed at some of the books available there that are not accessible online. Specifically, look for the hidden treasures and wisdom contained in the really old books.

              7. Be a Chameleon

              When you want to learn new skills, imitate your biggest idol. Watch a video and learn from seeing someone else do it. Participate in mimicry and copy what you see.

              Studies have shown that, apart from learning,[2]

              “Mimicry is an effective tool not only to create ties and social relationships, but also for maintaining them.”

              Visual learning is a great way to speed up the learning process. YouTube has thousands of videos on almost every topic available.

              8. Focus

              Follow one course until success! It’s easy to get distracted, to throw in the towel, or to become interested in the next great thing and ditch what you initially set out to do.

              Ditch the whole idea of multitasking, as it has been shown to be detrimental and unproductive Simply focus on the one new skill at hand until you get it done.

              9. Visualize

              The mind has great difficulty distinguishing between what is real and what is imagined. That is why athletes practice mentally seeing their success before attempting the real thing[3].

              Visualize yourself achieving your new skill and each step that you need to make to see results. This is an important skill to help when you’re learning the basics or breaking a bad habit.

              Take a look at this article to learn how to do so: How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results

              10. Find a Mentor

              Success leaves clues. The best short cut to become an expert is to find an expert and not have to make the mistakes that they have made.

              Finding out what NOT to do from the expert will fast-track your learning when you want to learn new skills. It is a huge win to have them personally walk you through what needs to be done. Reach out and send an email to them.

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              If you need help learning how to find a mentor, check out this article.

              11. Sleep on It

              Practice your new skill within four hours of going to sleep.

              Josh Kaufman, author of The Personal MBA, is a noted rapid learning expert. He says that any practice done within this time frame causes your brain to embed the learning more rapidly into its neural pathways. Your memory and motor-mechanics are ingrained at a quicker level.

              12. Use the 20-Hour Rule

              Along with that tip, Kaufman also suggests 20 as the magic number of hours to dedicate to learning the new skill.

              His reasoning is that everyone will hit a wall early on in the rapid learning stage and that “pre-committing” to 20 hours is a sure-fire way to push through that wall and acquire your new skill.[4]

              Check out his video to find out more:

              13. Learn by Doing

              It’s easy to get caught up in reading and gathering information on how to learn new skills and never actually get around to doing those skills. The best way to learn is to do.

              Regardless of how unprepared you feel, make sure you are physically engaged continuously. Keep alternating between research and practice.

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              14. Complete Short Sprints

              Rather than to force yourself into enduring hours upon hours of dedication, work in short sprints of about 20-30 minutes, then get up and stretch or take a short walk. Your brain’s attention span works best with short breaks, so be sure to give it the little rest it needs.

              One study found that, between two groups of students, the students who took two short breaks when studying actually performed better than those who didn’t take breaks[5].

              15. Ditch the Distractions

              Make sure the environment you are in is perfect for your rapid-learning progress. That means ditching any social media, and the temptation to check any email. As the saying goes, “Out of sight, out of mind.”

              Before you sit down to learn new skills, make sure that potential distractions are far from sight.

              16. Use Nootropics

              Otherwise known as brain enhancers, these cognitive boosters are available in natural herbal forms and in supplements.

              Many students will swear by the increased focus that nootropics will provide[6], particularly as they get set for some serious cramming. Natural herbal nootropics have been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic traditions to improve the mind and learning.

              Find out more about brain supplements in this article.

              17. Celebrate

              For every single small win that you experience during the learning process, be sure to celebrate. Your brain will release endorphins and serotonin as you raise your hands in victory and pump your fits. Have a piece of chocolate and give yourself a pat on the back. This positive reinforcement will help you keep pushing forward as you learn new skills.

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              The Bottom Line

              Learning a new skill should be exciting and fun. Whether you use online courses, real world experience, YouTube videos, or free online resources, take time to learn in the long term. Keep picturing the joy of reaching the end goal and being a better version of yourself as continual motivation.

              More Tips on How to Learn New Skills

              Featured photo credit: Elijah M. Henderson via unsplash.com

              Reference

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