We spend so much time doing tasks that are repetitive, and if we can automate those tasks we will be more productive and efficient in focusing on real work.
I love making life simple. I search for the best tools and hacks that will make my day easier. There is so much to get done during the day, that if I can automate the repetitive tasks, at least partially, I know I will be more productive.
Here are a few Gmail tips and hacks that make my day easier and more productive. I’m sure you’ll find them useful as well.
When you’re using a desktop mail application, like Outlook, you can set it so you get notifications when a new email arrives. A small envelope, a sound, something to let you know that you’ve got a new email in your inbox.
But if you’re using Gmail online, there’s no sound, no hint, no indication. So you waste time checking the inbox tab time and again.
Go to Settings > See all settings > Advanced > Unread message
Change the setting to Enabled and save your settings.
If you look at the browser tab, you will now notice a small number on the Gmail favicon. That’s the number of unread messages you have in your inbox.
When a new message arrives, the number will change.
No more need to go into the tab itself (and wait for it to reload) in order to see if you have new messages. Just a quick glance at the tab is enough.
In business, as in life, there are always tasks we have to do that are similar in nature.
Write a report, a proposal or even an email. I find using templates saves me a lot of time and headache. For example, every time I meet with a client, I like to send out a meeting summary. And if an offer has been made, then I send a proposal that includes my pricing and terms.
For documents, I customize my templates to include my logo and branding colors and fonts. I create a new document with the basic outline and structure of the document and then I save it as a template.
Next time I open my Word home screen, I see the new template under Personal templates.
For emails, I found that I had some basic templates that kept repeating themselves. Simple, seemingly no brainer emails that take seconds to write, but writing 10 of those a day can really add up.
Gmail has a great feature that enables saving emails as templates.
Before you create the template, you will need to enable using templates from the Settings menu.
Go to Settings > See all settings > Advanced > Templates and hit the Enable radio button.
Save your changes and you’re ready to go.
Now create your template:
- Compose a new email. Include a subject line, the body of the text as well as a signature. If there is text that you sometimes use, and sometimes don’t, add it as well. It’s easier to delete than it is to remember what to add.
- On the bottom toolbar, find the three horizontal dots (more options) and click.
- Hover over Templates and from the menu select Save draft as template.
That’s it! Your template is saved.
Next time you compose an email, click those three dots, and find the templates menu. You’ll have your template ready for use.
When I send out my summaries or proposals, I attach them to a drafted email template. Saves me the hassle of having to make up the text every time.
Repetition also happens when receiving emails. Daily or monthly reports that you need to forward or file away for later. Newsletters you hope to one day read but want out of your inbox to declutter.
I strive for inbox zero. Haven’t seen it in a while, but I like to know that anything in my inbox is there because it still needs to be dealt with, and anything that’s been dealt with, needs to go out of my inbox.
Manually clearing up your inbox from the emails that don’t need your immediate attention takes a lot of time. Especially if your inbox has thousands of emails.
It’s time to use filter rules.
- Click on the Search bar at the top of your inbox.
- Now select the black downwards arrow on the right of the bar.
- Define the criteria for the search. It can be based on keywords, sender, date range and many more options.
- Click Create filter.
- Define the rule you want to implement when there is a match to the criteria you defined. You can forward the email, label it (move to a different folder) and so much more.
- Click Create filter.
The rule will run on all new emails.
Another great feature Gmail has, is Smart Compose. Gmail senses what you’re writing and predicts your next sentence.
On a desktop, you hit the tab button and there you have it.
On mobile, you swipe and the text appears.
Some people find this annoying, but I personally love to use the feature, especially if I’m typing on my phone. It saves me tons of time, and sometimes the offered phrasing is so much better than what I thought to write.
Saving time on small tasks may seem like it isn’t much.
But time has a tendency to add up. A second here, 30 seconds there. In the long run, you’ve added hours to your week.
More time to spend on what you do best.