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Category: Hacks

What’s in it for me?

Today I’m going to show you how I run multiple companies and hundreds of projects out of one GMail inbox.

I preach your goal should be to constantly shave seconds off your day. By the end of this guide, you should be able to shave multiple minutes a day.

Introduction:

Email. It can quite literally consume every free second of your day.

From promotions to friends to funny stories, email has taken over as the number communication medium around the world.

The downside to this is that dealing with all that email can quickly become destructive to your ability to optimize your life.

Most of the successful people I know only check emails during certain times of the day and NEVER have notifications turned on.

At the end of the day, directly responding to email is NEVER worth you time. You are FAR more valuable than that (see my article on “how much are you worth” by clicking here).

Over the years I have tested 3rd party email applications, plugins, add-ons and even go so far as to hire a “email coach”.

At the end of the day, the best process I’ve come up with is keeping things simple.

I use GMail in my browser (Chrome), and make my email management process work within the bounds of GMail’s built in tools, features and shortcuts.

In the following article, I’m going to show you how I make email management easy.

Let’s get to it!

Part 1: Why GMail?

Before I jump into the HOW, I wanted to quickly review the WHY.

I have a email with almost every email provider out there because I want to be able to test and see if there might be a better way.

The reason I keep coming back to GMail is ease of use, great features and most importantly for those of us who use email to generate revenue, deliverability rate!

I was shocked to learn how many emails were “falling through the cracks” with other email systems.

At the end of the day, when your goal is to maximize your impact on the world, its best to use the systems that the rest of the world prefers.

If you can’t beat them, join them applies almost perfectly here.

Part 2: One GMail to Rule Them All

Did you know you can create UNLIMITED emails using your one GMail email?

GMail ignores “+” and “.” in emails.

This means that any emails sent to email+extraword@gmail.com will be sent to email@gmail.com.

Any emails sent to email.extraword@gmail.com will be sent to email@gmail.com.

I’ll teach you how to organize your incoming email using GMail Labels in the next section but you can get ahead of it by creating unique emails for specific companies, topics, etc.

For example, if I have to give my email away to access information from a site called SpamStuff.com, I would “create” a unique email myactualemailaddress.spamstuff@gmail.com.

Now any email sent to that email address would go to my actualemailaddress@gmail.com BUT it makes it a LOT easier to filter it out later (more on this in the next section).

HACK ALERT: There is also a thriving economy of buying and selling emails (or just hacking databases to get them). Its extremely amusing to see your unique email address being used by companies you DEFINITELY never gave permission to use it.

I won’t name names here but there are some multi-billion dollar companies out there buying email lists.

If you don’t want to go as deep as a unique modifier for every company you interact with, you can sub-level by creating emails like myemail+promotion@gmail.com or myemail.discounts@gmail.com.

Some companies have started to wise up to this tactic and won’t allow you to add “+” or “.” to your email. I’ve found that most companies who do this block the “+” but still allow the “.”.

Since adding these symbols simply segments your email and does nothing to block incoming mail, I would be extremely wary of any company that blocks both symbols.

By creating a unique email address everytime you have to use your email (myemail+target@gmail.com, myemail.walmart@gmail.com, etc), you will be able to have 100% control over your inbox when you combine with the next part of the training….

Part 3: Gmail Labels

Before we get into some specific optimizations and rules you can use with GMail, the first thing you want to do is create your Labels.

GMail Labels are really just “folders” for organizing your emails for later review.

Creating a Label is straightforward.

1) Hover your mouse over the to the left hand side of the screen and scroll all the way down
2) Click “More”
3) Click “Create new label”

Before you get started creating new labels, I would suggest planning your strategy.

For example, I have a “Financial” top level label and under that I nest things like my “Credit” label and my banks such as “Wells Fargo”, “Chase”, etc.

I have a top level “Promotions” and under that I nest individual companies such as “Walmart”, “Target”, “Frys” etc.

I then have some individual labels based on topic such as “Aviation”, “Videography”, etc.

I also of course have labels for each client and each family member.

Its extremely easy to rename labels and reorganize in the future but if you go into it with a plan it’ll make things easier in the long run.

My last note on labels is to NEVER let anything in your inbox NOT be labelled.

I made this mistake initially and it quickly got out of control.

Everything should have a label so you can hit the “Archive” button and work back to inbox zero (having no emails in your primary inbox).

Part 4: Filters and Rules

I love the filters and rules section of GMail. I’m a nerd about this type of stuff and even I am constantly learning new ways to manipulate GMail.

Below I have outlined my favorite filters and their respective modifications.

As I learn new ways to modify I will come back and add to this training (make sure you get on the SUPERhuMIN list so you know when we update stuff).

The easiest way is to simply create a filter/rule to organize emails sent from specific people.

To do this, follow the below steps:

1) Find and click on the “gears” icon (or “Settings”)
2) Click on “Filters and Blocked Addresses”
3) Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on “Create a new filter”
4) In the “From” field, paste in the email of the person sending you email
5) Click “Create Filter”
6) Check “Apply the label”
7) Find the correct label from the drop down and select it
8) Check “Never send it to spam”
8) Check “Also apply to X matching conversations” (even if it says 0)
10) Click “Create filter”

As you add more filters and get more email, sometimes GMail will need a few second to a few minutes to create the filter. It’s very important you do NOT click anywhere else in GMail while its “thinking”. You’ll know its done once it refreshed back to the page with all of your current filters on it.

HACK ALERT: You can create one filter for multiple email addresses. To do this, simple add a “{“ and a “}” to either end of the email “string” and seperate each email with a “,”.

Example: in the “From” field put “{email1@domain.com,email2@domain.com,email3@domain.com}”
I recently created one filter with over 200 emails in the above format and got a warning from Google.

This means there is a limit to the amount of “items” in a filter apparently but I have not identified the exact limit yet.

For most of you this won’t be a issue.

After adding “{“ and “}” to your strings to allow multiple emails, there are a few more interesting modifications.

Here is a great breakdown from Zapier.com.....

As you can see, there are many, MANY different ways you organize your email.

Part 5: Unleash the GMail beast (or “Multiple Inboxes”)

Most of you reading this probably still have the default “tabs” aka Primary, Social, Promotions, Updates and Forums.

I personally find these extremely annoying and always wanted to be able to customize the names, add and remove these tabs.

I always thought this was impossible UNTIL I discovered a hidden setting in GMail called “Multiple Inboxes”.

Google in its storied pattern of hiding good features, makes this rather complicated to “turn on”.

Rather than explaining the details of Multiple Inboxes, I suggest you turn it on and try it out for yourself. You can always reset to the default view later.

I’ll walk you through the steps to do this below.

1) Find and click on the “gears” icon (or “Settings”)
2) Click on “Inbox”
3) Uncheck tabs under “Categories” except for Primary
4) Scroll down and click “Saves Changes”
5) In upper right hand corner of the “Settings” page, click on “Advanced”
6) Click to “Enable” the “Multiple Inboxes” feature
7) Scroll down and click “Saves Changes”
8) You should now see a new “tab” near the top of the page call “Multiple Inboxes”. Click on it.

You are now in the Multiple Inboxes settings area and the new layout should be enabled.

You have different options here organize the layout of your new inbox but the most confusing part is the “Panes” (or at least it was for me).

You can have up to 5 “panes” which are really your new custom “tabs”.

You can label them however you like under “Panel title” but the most important part is the “Search query” fields.

You can put any search query you like here (and there are a GAZILLION different ones, just Google “gmail search queries”) but what I like to do is have my most important “labels” show up in each pane.

To do this, you need to understand your layers.

Here is an example of a search string I use to have emails from multiple labels appear in one “pane”.

NOTE: in this example “clients” is the name of my top level folder.

Example: is:{clients-walmart,clients-target,clients-pizza-guys}

This took me awhile to figure out as I seemed to be the only one who wanted to have multiple labels appear in one pane.

If you just want to have ONE label appear, its easier.

Example: is:label-name-here

“Spaces” in the label name should be inputted as “-”s. As described above, if you have multiple search parameters, wrap them in “{“ and “}” as show in my first example.

The End / Recap

There are many, many different ways to manipulate GMail without having to use 3rd party systems.

I personally have found that using GMail through 3rd party systems slows everything down so at this time I do NOT recommend anything.

That may change in the future of course.

For now, I suggest starting small and working towards inbox zero (having zero emails in your primary inbox because you’ve “sorted” them all).

As your needs increase with multiple projects, topics, clients, or even emails you can expand out.

If you have any great ideas I didn’t touch on here PLEASE drop a comment below. If its a awesome tip we’ll include it in future articles and give you a shout out!

I can’t wait to see your impact on our communities!

- Gabe