How to use gmail, properly, with the Inbox Zero philosophy

Zee
3 min readJul 11, 2019

Gmail is magical. Those of you who’re too young to remember how life was before gmail really do not realize the revolution gmail was.

Sadly, most people do not use gmail to its full potential, or worse they keep trying to use it like the old systems with folders and such.

Tip: If your inbox has messages that have been sitting there for > 24 hours then you’re doing it wrong!

Let me show you how to use gmail properly.

Decide what to do with an e-mail exactly when you see it

If you can repsond in less than 2 minutes then do it. Otherwise you’ll end up with 10,000 e-mails in your inbox.

But if it takes long to respond

Then add it as a task with a reminder.

Use Tasks, really!

Archive or delete

There’s zero value in keeping LinkedIn notifications and random messages you’ll never need again. Decide if you want to delete or archive.

If it’s something you’ll never need to search, just delete it.

But if you might need it, then …

Add a label

Labels are what makes gmail super powerful

Label is gmail’s superpower. No longer do you have to put a message in a single folder. Add as many labels as you like, it only makes searching easier.

Archive it

Hit that Archive icon

Archiving doesn’t delete the message, it simply removes the inbox label. You can still search for it, you can still look for it by labels, but now your inbox is clean.

Finally, don’t go to bed without tackling every message in your inbox

At the end of the day, you should’ve acted upon each e-mail.

But wait, Zee, don’t I need to organize my e-mails if I need them in the future?

Hell no. You just need to learn how to search:

Click that little arrow to the right
Boom. You can find anything and everything.

But I have too many e-mails!

Not many people have more e-mails than I do

I got into gmail during its beta days. I’ve been using it since forever. I have nearly 10GB of e-mails, and yet a clean zero inbox.

Once you’ve done all this, I’ll do a post on valuable gmail addons that are lifesaving. You can find them youself in the ‘Get add-ons’’ section.

Enjoy!

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Zee

A rare combination of a tech *and* political leader. Holds an elected office in Milton, Ontario and runs CampaignRaven.com. This blog focuses on tech.