Productivity Tips

  • Read fewer emails
    • Filter out emails you don't need to read

      The easiest way to spend less time reading email is to get less of it.

      Gmail provides a great feature that allows you to apply custom rules to emails that match certain criteria. One of the most common and powerful aspects of this feature is the ability to have certain emails skip your inbox entirely. That means emails with this filter won't come in to your inbox, and you won't have to deal with them ever again. But don't worry, you'll still be able to search for them later if you need!

      Check out Gmail's own documentation to learn how to create your own filters.

    • Unsubscribe from unnecessary emails

      There are a couple ways you can easily unsubsribe from unwanted newsletters and spam:

      • Unsubscribe directly in Gmail.
      • Click on the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email. In the US, this link will always be there - it’s federal law.
    • Mute annoying or irrelevant threads

      Hate those threads at work that never die? Gmail has a solution - muting.

      For emails you mute, any replies will skip your inbox. You can still search for the emails later, and if someone CC’s you directly, you’ll still get the email.

  • Process emails faster
    • Enable keyboard shortcuts

      Keyboard shortcuts provide an incredibly powerful method of getting more stuff done in less time (our estimate is that you can save around 35 hours per year using keyboard shortcuts).

      Google provides great documentation to get you going.

    • Be brief

      Very few people appreciate long emails. Be brief.

      Especially for internal emails, these techniques can help:

      • Ask direct questions. Bold important phrases to clarify the relevant information.
      • Remove any greeting and sign-off.
      • If you can fit the whole email in the subject line, do it. For example: “Can you send me the advertising budget for Q4?”
      • If you’re asking multiple questions, or making multiple points, use bullet points to separate them.
    • Canned responses

      Find yourself writing the same thing over and over again? Canned Responses is a helpful Gmail Lab lets you build email templates that pre-fill the common text of these emails, saving you minutes of typing per day and hours of typing per year.

    • Take some type of action right away

      Most emails require you do 1 of 3 things:

      • Act. If the email requires action on your part and can be accomplished in around 3 minutes or less, just do it right now.
      • File. There are lots reasons why you may not be able to take action on an email right away (longer emails that take time to digest, those that are waiting on some other task, etc.). Make sure to file or label these accordingly, and create a task for yourself to take care of it whenever appropriate (don't let it sit in your inbox unread).
      • Delete. Get rid of as many emails as possible, as quickly as possible.

      Whatever you do with your emails, do something. That is, try to avoid not dealing with emails altogether, and work on not having to read anything more than once whenver possible.

    • Sometimes email isn't the solution

      Cool email flowchart