7 Tips to Tame Your Gmail

Gmail tips I learned while working at Google

My Gmail Crush

In 2011, I got accepted into Google!

After agreeing to join, I wasn’t too sure what I would be doing, and that was fine by me: I was happy to do anything and learn in the process!

So, my first day at Google felt a bit like joining Hogwarts, you’re excited and not entirely sure what you’ll be doing:

For two years, I was lucky enough to train Google employees on Gmail and to pitch Gmail to companies of all sizes.

I’ve left Google since and now work at Buffer and on Remotive.io but I still use these 7 Gmail tips which have a daily impact on my work to this day…

Disclaimer — I’m not affiliated with Google or Hubspot :)

Let’s chat email!

Opening Gmail on Monday morning can feel like:

Emails are everywhere. According to McKinsey Institute, we spend close to a third of our time managing emails:

“The average interaction worker spends an estimated 28 percent of the workweek managing e-mail

I want to share my 7 favorite Gmail Tips. While they are not brand new, they have helped and are still helping me save many hours per week on email.

PS: I’m excited to exchange thoughts in the comments!

Source — McKinsey Global Institute 2012

(1) Undo “Send”

Ever spotted a major spelling mistakes right after hitting “Send?”

The easiest, fastest tip to set up — is enabling Undo Send!

Find it in Gmail’s “Settings>General” menu

Fear no more, Undo Send help you stop your email from sending for a few seconds so you can modify it.

It has saved me from many typos and potentially uncomfortable situations!

Gmail’s “Undo Send” in action

(2) Canned Responses

A surprising percentage of emails we write can be referring back to something we’ve already sent recently:

Those often-typed long messages could be standardized for the most part, and then customized individual answers.

Canned Responses, gives you a head start on emails!

Compose then save your Canned Responses that you can retrieve and reuse at a later time:

Found in Gmail>Settings>Labs> Canned Responses

By using Canned Responses, my brother and I manually emailed Remotive’s first 1,500 subscribers and customized each email with our contacts’ name and occupation (more on how to see this in Tip 7 below).

It’s very handy for those recurring situations that could use a draft, here’s an example:

Canned Response, before being customized

(3) Gmail Offline

Manu Cornet © 2015

Another challenge is to keep working while being offline.

I love to disconnect and focus on creative tasks, yet often I need to reference back to communications and documents that mostly live in my Inbox.

For all those train rides, WiFi shortages or sailing trips I use Gmail Offline.

Woohoo! Getting to access all those emails (and documents, it combined with Drive Offline) really helps me catching up while I’m on a plane/train/boat:

Gmail Offline Icon is blue #wow
Gmail Offline Chrome extension Interface

(4) Inbox Pause

I really can’t help it — I find “Inbox (1)” very distracting!

With time, more emails keep coming in and I find it tough to stay focused on what I’m doing…

Aaah 10 pending emails! I… Must… check them…

The best solution I could find has been Inbox Pause, allowing you to work in your own time by holding emails back.

“Pause” your Inbox, work, then “Unpause” to fetch all new messages

(5) Unsubscribing

It feels great to try and reduce the overall volume of emails.

We’re all on numerous mailing lists, and taking control of it makes a nice difference on your Inbox.

Meet Unroll.me, a free tool helping to organize your Subscriptions in minutes!

It took me 4 minutes to unsubscribe to 64 publications, only keeping 27 (including Remotive ;) ).

Unroll.me helps reducing subscriptions

(6) Gmail safety

Gmail is my hub for all-things online!

Gmail is the central node of all my all information, since other Google and non-Google services connect to it:

Gmail has all my communications, pictures, documents & phone numbers…

Activating Two-factor authentification means that you’ll need both your password AND a unique code (via an App, or SMS). This is the best way to keep your Gmail safe (I also use 1Password).

Other services such as Dropbox, GitHub… also use Two-factor authentification.

Authenticator for Android, by Google

BONUS — Another security tip to keep for Gmail users who connect from other computers is to be aware that other sessions can be running elsewhere:

On the bottom right corner of your Gmail

You get the ability to check whether your Gmail has been open elsewhere, and possibly log out with one click.

(7) Gmail Notifications

When we use WhatsApp, we get delivery notifications:

WhatsApp’s FAQ page

When we use Facebook, we get delivery notifications:

Facebook’s FAQ page

When you use Gmail with Sidekick (freemium app), you can get those too:

I love Sidekick, especially if you are looking for a job, working in Sales or are genuinely curious, it takes a lot of guesswork out of emails.

Just like with Whatsapp or Facebook, getting context about whether people might have received, read and/or interacted with your email is invaluable!

If you are keen on more productivity tips outside of Gmail, my other Medium article on being efficient has already gather 10,000+ views.

So those are my 7 Gmail tips!

Do you have any tips to share? I would love to hear how you folks get organized to get more done!

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& Feel free to connect on Twitter: @rdutel

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Rodolphe Dutel

Rodolphe Dutel

Founder at @remotiveio | Prev. Director of Operations at @Buffer