A week ago, I was having some issues with my laptop and I happened to mention it to the neighbor kid (okay, so he's really more of a young man as a 20-year old college sophomore. studying computer science..but the older I get, the younger they look!).
Anyway, while he was helping me fix my laptop, he also started sharing some great tips for increasing productivity with Gmail. So I asked him if I could ask him a few questions now and then in order to share some of his tips with you. So we're calling the series "Geeking Out With Gavin." Let me know if you have questions about using Gmail and I'll pass them along.
Q: How do I keep my Gmail inbox clean?
- a message that describes something that I need to do (including email reminders sent to myself, since I also use it as a to-do list),
- or an email I'm waiting on a reply from.
If the email is anything else, it gets archived.
Now, following these rules will quickly fill the archive to the point where it is too large to search by hand. In order to find archived emails when/if I need them later, I'll need a way to pinpoint what I want easily. I do this with labels, stars, and adding keywords.
1 - Labels in Gmail are, in my opinion, one of its best features; they act like folders for your emails, allowing you to file and find emails easily. The difference from traditional folders is that you can apply as many labels to an email as you want.
2 - Starring is essentially another label, except with slightly easier access: there is a 'starred' link right under the 'inbox' link on the left. The catch is that there is only one kind of 'star' (unless, of course, you head by Gmail labs and enable 'superstars'). I use stars mainly for information that I know I will need at some point in the future, but not right now (my plane ticket information for this coming semester, for instance).
3 - Adding keywords simply means forwarding the email to yourself with some key terms that you think that you might search for in the message body. With Gmail's conversation view, this won't create a new email, but simply add the words on as the most recent part of the conversation. Later, however, when you are looking for this email and use those terms in the search box, the email will come to the surface.
Labels and the Starred section both show up in the left sidebar of Gmail: however, the most powerful tool for finding an email is the overhead search bar. There are a number of operators you can use there, including is: (used for is:starred or is:unread), label: (for a label of 'Projects', search label:Projects), and any and all key terms you are looking for.
A more thorough guide on the search bar's additional featured can be found at (http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/gmail-advanced-search-ultimate-guide/).