Gmail Productivity Tips: How to Become a Gmail Power User
Naya Tsoukala
April 7, 2017

Gmail power users know something that your average user doesn’t. In this article you will discover how to:

  1. Turn Gmail into a cross team collaboration platform
  2. Integrating Gmail with your team's favorite tools
  3. Organize your inbox with stars
  4. Use labels to properly organize your inbox
  5. One-click share email streams and all their notes
  6. Work with filters to automate email processing
  7. Automate your workflows for immediate productivity
  8. Set up email delegation when you're not available
  9. Use Gmail keyboard shortcuts to save time
  10. Search through your emails faster
  11. Use Gmelius email snippets
  12. Plus a bonus tip of ongoing strategies

Tip 1: Turn Gmail into a Team Collaboration Platform

Gmelius turns Gmail into a platform designed for teams. So before we get into optimizing the Gmail productivity of your specific inbox, let's look at how the power of Gmelius extends to your teams and partners.

True productivity in email management is a team sport. The conversations that flood your inbox all lead to required actions. Whether it's client or project management you, along with your team, need the ability to communicate and collaborate together to get work done.

Gmail as it is was not designed for teams and although we're going to get into how to maximize it, it's good to know that Gmelius removes the limitations of the standard email inbox.

By creating shared inboxes and shared labels, you and your teams can manage emails together. Taking it a step further, Gmelius turns your email conversations into flexible project boards allowing you to manage your pipelines with our inbox-based kanban boards that can be synced with Trello thanks to our 2-way Gmail to Trello integration. You may also import your Trello boards in Gmail and convert your task cards into actionable emails.

And when it comes to email outreach, Gmelius gives you shareable email templates that save you tons of time. Add to that automated sequences, email campaigns, and the ability to @mention each other in email notes and you have a complete cross team collaboration solution - all without leaving your Gmail inbox.

Tip 2: Integrate Gmail with Your Team's Favorite Tools

The average person has to use way too many tools to get their work done. And when it comes to teams you have to manage even more tools and their various platforms.

Gmelius integrates in a two-way sync with the most widely used tools by professional teams. Some of your teams may prefer to work from Slack, while others like to manage their tasks with Trello. And they shouldn't have to choose, while worrying about how all the data will be synced across their teammates. Thanks to Gmelius you no longer have to worry about that.

Imagine the time-savings, efficiency, and productivity gains when you can manage your inbox activity, along with all Gmelius features, without leaving your favorite tools.

Now let's get into how you can become a Gmail power user.

TIP 3: Organize Your Inbox with Stars

Using Gmail’s star system, you’ll be able to tag your inbox messages with color-coded shapes and stars. You’ll notice that, by default, your Inbox only provides a yellow star but you also have the choice of tagging messages with other colored stars and icons.

It’s entirely up to you which icons and colors you use, and how you use them. As an example, you might prefer that your urgent messages be tagged with a red exclamation mark, the messages you need to read should be tagged with a yellow star, and messages that must be researched before responding to be tagged with a purple question mark.

How to Activate Other Stars and Icons

Follow these simple steps:

  1. In the upper right corner of the screen, click the settings (gear) button;
  2. From the menu, select Settings;
  3. On the General tab in the Stars section, drag the stars you’d like to use from the Not in Use list to the In Use list.

Note: You have to know the star’s name in order to search for starred messages in the search box. Find this by going to the Settings page, General tab, and hovering your mouse over that particular star in the Stars section. For example, the red exclamation mark is known as Red-Bang, and the yellow star is known as Yellow-Star.

How to Use Stars

When you choose to use a star to tag a message you simply click the star icon until you find the one you want, and Gmail will rotate through the stars you’ve placed in your In Use list. But it gets even simpler.

As an option, you can perform this same task by using the keyboard shortcut s. If you’re sending a message and you want to apply a star, go to the New Message window and click on the three-dot icon in the lower right-hand corner, choose Label, then select Add Star.

TIP 4: Use Labels to Properly Organize Your Inbox

Labels are one of the easiest and most effective ways of organizing your inbox. Labels are great for categorizing by topic, client, project, action required etc.

For further categorizing you can use sub-labels. For example each of your clients could have his or her own sub-label.Note: If you’re coming from another email system and moving to Gmail, you’re probably wondering why there are no folders. The answer is that Gmail doesn’t use folders. It uses labels. A Gmail conversation can have many labels and be in many locations: Inbox, Sent Mail, All Mail, and so on - which offers the user more flexibility than having messages in only one folder.

If all your Gmail messages are in your inbox and you’ve never used labels before (and many, many people are guilty of this), this is the time to start. And the best part is how Gmelius turns your labels into a shareable collaboration tool that empowers your workflows.

Gmail’s Three-Step Labelling Process

If you’re just getting started with Gmail labels, here’s a three-step process to help you get started:

  1. Create your labels and sub-labels
  2. Apply these labels to the messages that are currently in your inbox
  3. Each time you review your inbox you should apply labels to every new message.

Alternatively, you can set up a filter to do this step for you.

How to Create a New Label

  1. Select a message and click on the Labels button on the navigation sidebar
  2. And select Create new label
  3. Chose a name, decide if you want the label to be nester under a parent label and click on Create.

As an alternative, when a particular email is open, you can create a new label simply by starting to type the name of the label and clicking on create new.

How to Apply Labels to Existing Messages

To apply labels to messages in your inbox the easiest methods are as follows:

  • From the navigation sidebar, drag the label to the message: Gmail will apply the label and the message will stay in your Inbox
  • From the Inbox, drag the message to the label on the navigation sidebar. The label will be applied by Gmail and the message will be moved out of the Inbox
  • At the top of the Inbox, use the Move To button or the Labels button to label or move messages; however, it’s usually quicker to use the drag-and-drop method.

How to Manage Labels

If you want to view all messages that have been tagged with a certain label, click on that label in the navigation sidebar. Labels can be managed on the Labels tab of the Settings page. From here you can specify which labels to hide and which labels to show in both the message list and the label list. You can also remove a label (which doesn’t delete the messages in it) and edit the name of a label.

Check out this ultimate guide to Gmail labels to create a neat, tidy, and well-organized inbox, in a few simple steps.

TIP 5: Share Email Conversation Streams

Gmail offers a way for you to capture and share all conversations in an email thread.

Click here to learn more and install Gmelius for free.

TIP 6: Work with Filters to Automate Email Processing

Filters are another powerful Gmail feature: they enable you to automatically perform a specific action when a message arrives in your inbox that matches the filter criteria. For example, filters can be created based on the subject line, the sender, content of the message, attachments, or size.

The most popular filters are based on the sender. You can let Gmail know what action you want taken after determining what triggers the filter. One or more of the following actions can be selected:

  • Mark as read
  • Archive, and skip the inbox
  • Mark with a star
  • Forward
  • Apply with a specific label
  • Delete
  • Never mark as important
  • Always mark as important
  • Never send to Spam
  • Categorize: (referring to category tabs, like Social, Primary, and so on).

A Word of Caution: Gmail filters are a wonderful timesaver, but creating filters that are too general could well result in missing vitally important messages. Let’s say you created a filter based on a word in the subject line, an important message you wanted to read could inadvertently be moved out of your Inbox. Generally, using a sender’s precise email address as a filter will yield the most accurate results.

How to Create a Filter

To create a filter:

  • In the search box, click the Down arrow;
  • Next, enter your filter criteria: this may be messages from a specific sender;
  • Next, click on the "Create filter" link;

Specify what you want Gmail to do when it encounters a match, such as applying a star or a label.

  • Finally, click on the blue "Create filter" button.

Tip: If you need to include multiple senders in the same filter, each sender’s email address should be separated with the word ‘OR’ - like john@gmail.com OR sandra@gmail.com.

Managing Filters

Filters can be managed on the Settings page using the Filters tab.

On this page you can create a new filter, plus you can delete, edit, import, and export existing filters.

Tip 7: Automate Your Workflows for Immediate Productivity Gains

Imagine turning Gmail into your virtual assistant. It's possible with Gmelius. Here are just a few of the actions you can automate.

  • Set up auto-replies for your shared inboxes.
  • Auto-send specific emails to your project boards.
  • Auto-assign emails to the certain members of your team.
  • Use automated rules to follow your "If this - Then that" instructions.

You no longer have to worry about an inbox flooded with emails waiting for a response or that your clients aren't getting the immediate attention they deserve.

TIP 8: Delegate Your Email Account to Someone Else

With Gmail, the management of your inbox can be delegated to another person, such as a colleague or an assistant. This person can then read, reply to, send, delete, and organize your messages.

Set Up Email Delegation When You Are Not Available

Follow these steps to set up delegation:

  1. In the upper right-hand corner of the screen click the Settings button
  2. Click on the Accounts and Import tab
  3. Click on the Add Another Account link in the Grant Access to Your Accoun section
  4. Add the email address of the person you wish to grant access to, then click the Next Step button;
  5. Finally, click on the Send Email to Grant Access button.

The person you’ve chosen to delegate your emails to will receive a notification from Gmail confirming your request.

Understand the Limitations of Delegation

Delegating your Gmail account to a colleague or assistant can be a very handy tool for busy people, but there are limitations. Remember that the person you’ll be delegating access to must have their own Gmail account and the number of accounts you can delegate is limited to one.

You also need to remember that you can’t use Gmail’s delegation feature to create a group email account; and if Google does notice that many people are accessing the same Gmail account it’s within its rights to shut the account down.Note: By default, when a delegate opens a message the message is marked as read. If you want to change this, go to the Accounts and Import tab and select the ‘Leave Conversation Unread When Opened by Others’ option.

How to Cancel Delegation Access

Let’s say you’ve decided you no longer want someone to have access to your Gmail account. To cancel delegation, follow these simple steps:

  1. In the upper right hand corner of the screen, click the Settings button;
  2. From the menu, select Settings;
  3. Next, click the Accounts and Import tab;
  4. Click on the Delete link next to the person’s name whose access you want to cancel in the Grant Access to Your Account section.

And you’re set!

TIP 9: Use Gmail  Keyboard Shortcuts to Save Time

Did you know that Gmail provides many keyboard shortcuts, thus enabling you to complete tasks quicker?

If you’re not already using them, you really should take the time to familiarize yourself with the shortcuts and start using them for your common Gmail tasks.

Turning on Gmail’s Keyboard Shortcuts

By default Gmail offers a number of shortcuts however there are others that are not available unless you turn them on. Follow these simple steps to turn Shortcuts on:

  1. In the upper right-hand corner of the screen click on the Settings button
  2. From the menu, select Settings
  3. Select the Keyboard Shortcuts option on the General tab
  4. At the bottom of the page click on the Save Changes button.

How to View a List of Keyboard Shortcuts

Press ? To view a complete list of keyboard shortcuts: remember that when you press the  ?  key you need to hold the Shift key down. See below for a comprehensive list of keyboard shortcuts.

That's impressive, isn't it?

TIP 10: Search Through Your Emails Faster

Another huge time-waster is searching through Gmail trying to find a certain email message. Yes, performing a basic search is easy. However, when you’ve got thousands of Gmail messages, whether they’re archived or in your Inbox it can often be difficult to find precisely what you’re looking for.

The solution is learning to perform advanced Gmail searches.

To do so, click on the arrow to the right of the search button.

Now, in the search window provided, you can search by sender, location , subject, recipient, attachments, words in the message or words not in the message, and date.

You also have the option of using various search operators in the Search box:

  • has:yellow-star: Messages with a yellow star
  • 2020 work plan: Messages containing this exact phrase
  • Vacation-Geneva: Messages about a vacation, but without Geneva
  • label:work from:Helen: Messages from someone named Helen with the label ‘work’
  • after:2020/01/01: Messages dated after January 1, 2020

You can view a complete list of search operators here.

Tip 11: Use Gmelius Email Snippets

Many of your emails require you to input the same information. Gmelius allows you to use a quick backlash "\", that can inject in one click, everything from:

  • Email closings
  • Information recaps
  • Needed list of documents
  • Customer and employee onboarding processes
  • or any other repetitive parts of your emails.

Snippets are saved into your template library, and easily accessed from your compose window. When combined with shareable email templates you and your team will save tons of time on your path to mastering Gmail.

Bonus Tip: Join the Gmelius community

These tips are just the beginning.

Join the Gmelius community and connect with teams of all sizes across a range of industries. Our community is where we exchange ideas and share more detailed tips on maximizing how your team uses email and Gmelius for ultimate productivity.

In Conclusion

It's now your turn to apply these Gmail tips to your daily email routine and boost how you and your team communicate and collaborate. And in no time you'll become a Gmail master.

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