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5 Lesser Known Gmail Tips and Hacks

5 Lesser Known Gmail Tips and Hacks

Gmail has been through a lot of changes lately, and you may be left wondering how you can get back in control of your inbox. Here are some little-known Gmail tips and hacks to help you master your email workflow!

1. Create your own alias-based filtering

Gmail doesn’t technically provide aliases unless you’re using Gmail to view and respond to emails sent to your own registered domain email (for example, [email protected]). But it does allow you to set up aliases using plus signs or dots in your email address.

So “[email protected]” and “[email protected]” will both go to the same inbox, as will “[email protected]” and “[email protected]”.

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Once you’ve chosen a few aliases, set up filtering within Gmail by going to Settings > Filters.

You could create one that redirects all messages to “[email protected]il.com” to the spam folder but stars all messages to “[email protected]”, for example. Or automatically label messages by choosing Settings > Labels and creating a few useful labels for different things, then using filters to label messages to “[email protected]” as “Family” and messages to “[email protected]” as “Business”.

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Using filters in Gmail

    Then all you need to do is give the appropriate version of your email address to different people and your messages will be filtered and labelled for you when they arrive.

    2. Save time with keyboard shortcuts

    If you access your Gmail via a laptop or desktop computer with a keyboard (rather than a touchscreen device) you can use keyboard shortcuts to navigate and manage your messages so that you don’t waste time moving your hands from keyboard to mouse to keyboard again. There’s a full list of the many shortcuts here, some of which you have to enable in Gmail’s settings before they’ll work, but the most useful ones to start with are:

    • n for next and p for previous, which will move you through a multi-message conversation in chronological or reverse chronological order.
    • Ctrl + Enter to send the message you’re composing.

    3. Get extra tools from Google Labs

    Within your Gmail settings, there’s a tab marked “Labs”. Click on that tab and you can add a range of tools people have built to work with Gmail.

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    Using Labs in Gmail

      There’s a tool called Canned Responses that lets you save messages you send often and insert them into your Gmail composition with just a couple of clicks. Another, Undo Send, gives you the ability to recall a message up to a few seconds after you hit Send—handy if you spotted a mistake just after sending. There’s even a tool that lets you set your own custom keyboard shortcuts in case the ones Google provides aren’t right for you.

      4. Use Labels in full color

      To speed up your brain’s ability to recognize and select the emails you need, create Labels for your Gmail messages and then set a different color for each label. Once your business emails are labelled in red, your friends and family’s messages in green and your financial transaction receipts in blue, for example, it’ll be much easier to scan your inbox visually and find what you’re looking for.

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      5. Use Tasks to connect your emails and to-do lists

      When you get an email that requires an action from you, and you don’t intend to act on it right away, look up at the menu bar above your emails. If you’re in the reading view, you’ll see a button marked “More”. If you’re in your inbox list view, you’ll need to check the box to the left of the relevant item to make the More button appear.

      Using Google Tasks in Gmail

        When you click that More button, you’ll be offered a drop-down list of options. Select “Add to Tasks” and a Google Tasks to-do list will pop up at the bottom of your screen with the subject line of the email added as a to-do list item. Edit the to-do text and add a due date if you like. The great thing about this way of adding to your to-do list is that each item in your list that’s related to an email in your Gmail will automatically include a link back to the email so that you can easily remind yourself of the task’s details.

        More by this author

        Sophie Lizard

        A writer who shares about lifestyle and productivity tips on Lifehack.

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        Last Updated on February 15, 2019

        7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

        7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

        Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

        Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

        Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

        So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

        Joe’s Goals

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          Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

          Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

          Daytum

            Daytum

            is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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            Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

            Excel or Numbers

              If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

              What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

              Evernote

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                I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

                Evernote is free with a premium version available.

                Access or Bento

                  If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

                  Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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                  You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

                  Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

                  All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

                  Conclusion

                  I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

                  What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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