If you don’t like Gmail’s new tabbed interface, and you want more control over your inbox and what *you* deem important, check out Gmail’s Priority Inbox.
I’ve been using Priority Inbox since it first came out in 2011. It has been a lifesaver.
First, Priority Inbox allows you to designate which emails are important and which are not. Emails from clients? Important. Emails from clueless PR peeps? Not important.
Once you mark an email as “important,” all email from the person or company arrives in your Priority Inbox. If Gmail sends an important email to the “Everything Else” box, simply mark it as “Important” and it rises to the top.
The screenshot below shows my “Everything Else” box where I’ve indicated that two emails are “important.” By labeling them this way, Gmail will send these emails to my Priority Inbox in the future.
Second, Priority Inbox saves you time. I no longer wade through hundreds of emails skimming for the important stuff. It’s all right there in my Priority Inbox. And, because the stuff I don’t want to see is in the “Everything Else” box, I simply click the “Delete All” button and POOF! — it disappears. This saves a huge amount of time — as in hours per week.
Third, Priority Inbox eliminates the need for add-on tools. Because I’m able to deal with the important stuff quickly, I’m usually at zero inbox (or pretty close to it) without needing to incorporate an email management tool or learn a new system.
Priority Inbox is very easy to set up.
1. Open Gmail. Find the little gear icon and click “Settings,” then click “Inbox.”
2. At the “Inbox Type” field, click the arrow to display the menu. Choose “Priority Inbox.”
3. You can use the default settings or configure it how you like. I have it configured so that I can “star” emails that need attention but aren’t urgent. These emails get moved to the “Starred” section directly below Priority Inbox.
That’s it — you’re now ready to roll.
In the last two years, I’ve made real inroads to effectively dealing with email and reducing overwhelm. A few other tips I highly recommend are:
Turn off ALL notifications — I don’t receive any social media notifications (except for blog comments and when people contact me directly through LinkedIn). By turning off notifications, you eliminate distraction and free up space in your inbox.
Unsubscribe — Anything I no longer read, I unsubscribe. Someone sends me something I didn’t ask for, unsubscribe. Does this mean I miss out on information? Probably. But I get plenty of it in my Facebook, Twitter and G+ feeds. I don’t need it in my inbox, too.
Use your Spam button — For some reason, many companies continue to send email even after you’ve unsubscribed. It’s actually quite annoying. When this happens, I report these emails as spam. You have no idea how effective this tactic is. If a company gets too many spam complaints, their ESP will shut them down and/or Google will block them. Once I report an email as spam, the emails stop.
Do you use Priority Inbox? Feel free to share your comments.