5 Ways to Organize Gmail

Photo by Gil-Design/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by Gil-Design/iStock / Getty Images

They say clutter impacts productivity. This can definitely apply to your inbox. I feel more scattered, less focused, and less productive when my inbox isn’t organized. When I’m not able to organize my inbox at least when it comes to the basics, I know there is too much on my plate (personally and professionally).

Things to keep in mind:

  • When you have a new email, don’t start creating a bunch of labels or categories until you know what you really need.
  • Evaluate what you’re doing to see if it’s working and make adjustments as needed.

This isn’t about organization, but:

  • There’s this wonderful feature called “Undo Send” to give you a piece of mind when sending emails.
  • When you copy and paste- change the font color to black. When you copy and paste it can show up as purple to the person you sent the email to. 

If you look up information about gmail, a lot comes up! It can be hard to filter through to figure out where to get started. I try to apply tips and tricks to my professional and personal gmail accounts. A lot of them carry over to both and can be very helpful.

Here are 5 of my go to ways to organize my gmail!

Inbox Sections

When I first started splitting my inbox into sections, I split it between unread and read (everything else) that wasn’t archived. Over time, I adjusted and added starred and important to the mix as well. This helps me know what sections to go to first and feels less intimidating than a list of unread emails.

This can be found under gmail settings → inbox

Labels and Color Coding

I LOVE color coding, which can be done with labels.

For colors, I might use the same color for multiple labels if it falls under a certain topic or category. For example, any label that relates to marketing are all the same color even if there are different labels.

I try to limit each email to three labels, but it can go up to six labels (depending on the situation). I let myself use a few at once because how my mind works can vary depending on the situation.

I only have three go to labels for work:

  1. Admin
  2. Team
  3. Blockers for others (but this one is never alone or archived.)

I only have three because each situation is so different and can change over time. I then create labels based off of my needs.

This can be done on the left side of the screen where you see all of the folders.

This can be found under gmail settings → label


How can you have emails get automatically starred, archived, or given a label?

For example, I have all the emails of people I work with (within and outside the organization) as starred so that it shows up in a certain section in my inbox so I don’t miss anything.

You can also have some emails get an automatic label applied to them as well, depending on keywords, or who sent it, etc.

Some emails I automatically archive as they come in- maybe a bunch of things come in and I don’t want to feel overwhelmed. They get filed away and I have a time on my calendar to go check the label. This varies from newsletter sign-ups, survey results, newsletters in general, etc.

Usually my filters involve mark it as read, apply a label, and/or archive it.

This can be found under gmail settings → filters → create new filter

Make an email an event to help clear it out

I don’t like to mark emails read or archive them if I’m not finished with it. If I have action items related to the email, I usually leave it as unread, or if it isn’t urgent I mark it as read but don’t archive it.

One thing I started doing was to create an event with the email if it’s something I need to do at some point but either isn’t urgent or doesn’t need to be done yet. This way I can clear up my inbox, but I don’t have to worry about losing track of it.

When I have an email open, I click on “more”→ create an event. Once it opens in the calendar, I make sure to remove all of the attendees or invitees because this serves as a reminder for me.

Set aside time to go through your inbox

I don’t like being constantly on my email. It becomes a distraction, and I’m not as productive.

At work, I check it three to five times a day. First in the morning, second before or after lunch, and third before the end of the day. If there are things going on that need email responses, I might look a few more times if needed.

I then schedule time once per week to do a deep dive of my inbox of things that aren’t archived or deleted to make sure things are labeled, archived, added to my calendar, etc. About once per month, I try to schedule a deep dive of my entire inbox to assess labels, filters, etc.

Finally, for any emails such as newsletter sign-ups, survey responses, etc. I set aside specific times to check that label and go through it as needed.

Personally, I try to check my email once per day Monday through Friday. I then try to do a deep dive of my inbox for anything unread or not archived every two weeks. Deep dives happen every few months.

There are so many ways to use gmail and to organize it. These are just a few of my go to’s!

What are your favorite gmail tips and tricks for organization?