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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 18, 2019

              15 Best Organizing Tips For Office Organization and Getting More Done

              15 Best Organizing Tips For Office Organization and Getting More Done

              You may think that you don’t have time for office organization, but if you really knew how much time that disorganization cost you, you’d reconsider.

              Rearranging and moving piles occasionally doesn’t count. Neither does clearing off your desk, if you swipe the mess into a bin, or a desk drawer.

              A relatively neat and orderly office space clears the way for higher productivity and less wasted time.

              Organizing your office doesn’t have to take days, it can be done a little at a time. In fact, maintaining an organized office is much more effective if you treat it like an on-going project, instead of a massive assault.

              So, if you’re ready to get started, the following organizing tips will help you transform your office into an efficient workspace.

              1. Purge Your Office

              De-clutter, empty, shred, get rid of everything that you don’t need or want. Look around. What haven’t you used in a while?

              Take one area at a time. If it doesn’t work, send it out for repair or toss it. If you haven’t used it in months and can’t think of when you’ll actually need it, out it goes. This goes for furniture, equipment, supplies, etc.

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              Don’t forget about knick-knacks, plants (real or artificial), and decorations – if they’re covered with dust and make your office look shabby, they’re fair game.

              2. Gather and Redistribute

              Gather up every item that isn’t where it belongs and put it where it does.

              3. Establish Work “Zones”

              Decide what type of activity happens in each area of your office. You’ll probably have a main workspace (most likely your desk,) a reference area (filing cabinet, shelves, binders,) and a supply area (closet, shelves or drawers.)

              Place the appropriate equipment and supplies are located in the proper area as much as possible.

              4. Close Proximity

              Position the equipment and supplies that you use most within reach. Things that you rarely use can be stored or put away.

              5. Get a Good Labeler

              Choose a label maker that’s simple to use. Take the time to label shelves, bins, baskets drawers. Not only will it remind you where things go, but it will also help others who may have a need to find, use, or put away anything in your workspace.

              6. Revise Your Filing System

              As we move fully into the digital age, the need to store paper files has decreased.

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              What can your store digitally? Are you duplicating files? You may be able to eliminate some of the files and folders you’ve used in the past. If you’re storing files on your computer, make sure you are doing regular back-ups.

              Here’re some storage ideas for creating a smooth filing system:

              • Create a meeting folder – Put all “items to be discussed” in there along with items that need to be handed off, reports that need to be given, etc. It’ll help you be prepared for meetings and save you stress in the even that a meeting is moved up.
              • Create a WOR folder – So much of our messy papers are things that are on hold until someone else responds or acts. Corral them in a WOR (Waiting on Response) folder. Check it every few days for outstanding actions you may need to follow-up on.
              • Storage boxes – Use inexpensive storage boxes to keep archived files and get them out of your current file space.
              • Magazine boxes – Use magazine boxes or binders to store magazines and catalogs you really want to store. Please make sure you really need them for reference or research, otherwise recycle them, or give away.
              • Reading folder – Designate a file for print articles and documents you want to read that aren’t urgent.
              • Archive files – When a project is complete, put all of the materials together and file them away. Keep your “working folders” for projects in progress.
              • File weekly – Don’t let your filing pile up. Put your papers in a “To File” folder and file everything once a week.

              Learn more tips on organizing your files here: How to Organize Your Files for Better Productivity

              7. Clear off Your Desk

              Remove everything, clean it thoroughly and put back only those items that are essential for daily use.

              If you have difficulty declutter stuff, this Declutter Formula will help you throw away stuff without regretting later.

              8. Organize your Desktop

              Now that you’ve streamlined your desktop, it’s a good idea to organize it.

              Use desktop organizers or containers to organize the items on your desk. Use trays for papers, containers for smaller items.

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              Don’t forget your computer desktop! Make sure the files or images are all in organized folders. I’d recommend you clear your computer desktop everyday before you leave work.

              9. Organize Your Drawers

              Put items used together in the same drawer space, stamps with envelopes, sticky pads with notepads, etc.

              Use drawer organizers for little items – paper clips, tacks, etc. Use a separate drawer for personal items.

              10. Separate Inboxes

              If you work regularly with other people, create a folder, tray, or inbox for each.

              11. Clear Your Piles

              Hopefully with your new organized office, you won’t create piles of paper anymore, but you still have to sort through the old ones.

              Go through the pile (a little at a time if necessary) and put it in the appropriate place or dump it.

              12. Sort Mails

              Don’t just stick mail in a pile to be sorted or rifle through and take out the pieces you need right now. Sort it as soon as you get it – To act, To read, To file, To delegate or hand off. .

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              13. Assign Discard Dates

              You don’t need to keep every piece of paper indefinitely. Mark on files or documents when they can be tossed or shredded.

              Some legal or financial documents must be kept for specified length of time. Make sure you know what those requirements are.

              14. Filter Your Emails

              Some emails are important to read, others are just not that important.

              When you use the filter system to label different types of emails, you know their priority and which to reply first.

              Take a look at these tips to achieve inbox zero: The Ultimate Way to get to Inbox Zero

              15. Straighten Your Desk

              At the end of the day, do a quick straighten, so you have a clean start the next day.

              Bottom Line

              Use one tip or try them all. The amount of effort you put into creating and maintaining an efficient work area will pay off in a big way.

              Instead of spending time looking for things and shuffling piles, you’ll be able to spend your time…well…working and you’ll enjoy being clutter free!

              More Organizing Hacks

              Featured photo credit: Alesia Kazantceva via unsplash.com

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