Gmail like a boss
Email can be the perfect tool to stay in touch with friends and colleagues but it can easily turn into a gigantic beast that you need to defeat every single day to get on with your tasks. I get hundreds of emails every day and a tiny part of them is important, having them in my inbox draws attention and I lose track of the important information. You can’t really filter everything away but there’s measures that really helped me improve emailing.
There isn’t much to add to this bullet but if you’re stuck in Microsoft, Yahoo or something homegrown, change it! Gmail works and there’s no spam.
Enable/Learn keyboard shortcuts
Stop jumping from keyboard to mouse when you’re browsing your email. It takes time and Gmail has brilliant shortcuts built in. Enable them in Settings -> Keyboard Shortcuts.
? - Help gi - Goto inbox. j/k - Move up and down. x - Mark email. e - Archive cmd + enter - Send
More shortcuts here
Do one more click and unsubscribe from the mailing lists that you just mark as read. If you’re unsure, filter them into some Newsletter folder and “Skip inbox.”
Make sure to mute the ongoing flame wars and conversations that doesn’t concern you instead of getting yet another non sense email.
Filter and archive(e)
One thing the really helped me was going from thousands of emails in my inbox to zero. I archive everything that I read or responded to. Having just the active and important things in front of me keeps me from context switching and losing focus.
Creating filters and assigning labels to filters improves visibility and archiving. Reading old emails is just a matter of going to label ‘direct’(email sent to me directly) or a label corresponding to a email list.
My old labelling technique was based on filters that labeled and archived directly, something that actually made things slower since it’s better to label and keep the email in inbox until it’s processed instead of jumping between labels in the sidebar. Another downside by archiving directly is that you lose the mute functionality since your email is already archived.
In my journey for better emailing I discovered ActiveInbox that let you set due dates and mark emails as “waiting on”, “todo” and “action”. The application creates custom labels in your gmail and adds a toolbar that shows your email status.
iPhone users should really look deeper into Mailboxapp, something I really want for Android.