Gmail Power User Tips

Today I tracked the amount of time I spent in front of email. The total — 17 hours (and counting). I basically live in email all day and have come up with a few Gmail tips that I use to keep myself organized. in the interest of personal organization, I thought I would share them with the world.

1. Install Greasemonkey and some cool Greasemonkey scripts
Greasemonkey is really cool. However, it is not for the tame. It can undermine your browser’s stability at times and make you have to restart Firefox a bit more often than you’d like

2. Use Labels
I am a huge fan of labels. I use labels in Gmail to basically turn my inbox into a mini-CRM system. Here are a few examples that I find really helpful:
-”contactinfo” label: I have a label called contactinfo that I use to track all of those emails where people send me updated contact information, new jobs, etc. Periodically, I go back and take the information and enter it into my favorite contact management system at the time.
-”calendar” label: Most things I schedule get scheduled over email. Making sure that those events get into my calendar is not always a done deal. I label all conversations with a calendar event with the “calendar” label and check at the end of the day to make sure all of those events have made it into my calendar.
-”todo” label: You can probably imagine what this one does if you have read the following two points above.

With these small tips, you can use Gmail as a mini-CRM system. It’s really useful.

3. Use Operators and Shortcuts
I will admit that keeping track of the various shortcuts can be tough. There is a very simple solution — print them out and tack them up on your desk next to your computer. That way, they are easy to see. Second, learn the operators. For example, you will greatly increase your odds of finding the mail message you are looking to track down if you use the “from:”, “to:” and “subject:” operators along with your search term. It will save you the trouble of wading through emails that mention your search term but not in the context you had in mind.

4. Archive Email Often
A colleague of mine gave me the radical suggestion to take my inbox to zero messages once per day. After I got over the shock of his suggestion, it made a lot of sense — one of the biggest impediments to managing email is deciding what to do with the messages that are in your inbox. Once per day, try to look at all of the mail you have and decide whether it needs to be in your inbox. In many cases, you can delete it or archive it and put it out of sight. There is something satisfying about driving your inbox to zero from time to time. Any important threads that you archive will reappear when someone responds to them.

If you have other good tips, let me know. I am always on the hunt for them. I usually find lots of good tips on Lifehacker, too.