One of my regularly requested services is In Box taming because they can so easily, and quickly, get out of control. Even VA’s aren’t immune to multiplying emails when things get busy, so we understand how the inbox can quickly get to a point where it feels difficult to manage. Being able to find and move multiple emails into a designated folder location within Gmail whilst also removing them from the InBox so that it is slimmer and easier to negotiate is a really great trick to have in your toolbox. It’s also a trick you can use for deleting multiple emails.
Labels are the equivalent of a folder and are a great way to ensure the emails you do want to keep are safely stored. By default, emails usually have a label of InBox, (even if you add new labels) and removing that Inbox label so the email goes to its allocated folder and ceases to lurk in the Inbox isn’t super obvious. You would think you’d remove it under Labels on the ribbon bar, but you don’t.
The first step is to create a Folder/Label for your emails to be stored in. Name it something easy and clear such as Client X.
The option for labels is on the top ribbon bar. As you can see, you can create a new label. Click this and an option to name the label will come up together with the option to nest the label under another to create a file hierarchy. So one option is to create a folder labelled Clients and perhaps nest a folder label for Client X under this.
Now you have your label you can go and find all your emails relating to Client X. There are several ways to search for emails. The most obvious, though not the quickest, is to search in the search box. This can bring up emails you don’t want as it draws in emails that mention the person as well as emails to and from them. Useful in certain circumstances but not necessarily ideal when you are trying to streamline an inbox.
If you have conversation view selected your emails will be organised to an extent though you may still have multiple conversations running with the same person.
To quickly find all emails on the same subject, right-click on an email and then select ‘Find emails with this subject’. Gmail will now show you both the received and sent emails with the same topic.
You use a similar method to find emails from the same sender. Just right-click on the email and select “Find Emails From…” Be aware that choosing the sender will only show received emails so your replies won’t get drawn into the search results. Good for newsletters or informative emails that you want to keep, not so good for conversation threads.
Once you have your search results, tick the box just above the emails on the left side and this will highlight and tick all the emails you’ve found. You can then go to Labels and add the correct label to the emails or right click to get the menu shown below and choose “Label As”. If there are some emails you don’t want to move to that label, just untick those before you choose your label and they won’t be labelled.
Now for the magic bit; evicting them from your Inbox. The label “InBox” doesn’t show on the list of labels so you can’t just remove the label that way. Instead, keeping the relevant emails ticked, go up to your email menu bar, choose Archive and your inbox label is magically removed, streamlining your inbox in one click. Or, right-click and choose Archive from the menu as shown above. Clever or what?
For those of you dealing with a seriously overweight inbox, it can be helpful to temporarily instruct Gmail to show 50 items so that you can examine and move as many messages as possible in one go. To do this, click the three dots on the section of inbox you are trying to thin out (usually the Everything Else section) and you can choose the number of items it will show.
For very obese inboxes you may well need to do multiple searches for the same information to get all the items into the right folder and delete the antiques leaving only the collectables behind.
You can use a similar approach if you want to put your Gmail on a strict diet. Find your target emails, highlight all, untick anything you actually want to keep, then instead of labelling the messages, delete them. Once you’ve deleted a few screens worth, don’t forget to go into the Trash can and empty that out to permanently delete things, otherwise they may well hang about longer than you’d like them to, taking up storage space you could use for other things. Particularly important if you deal with sensitive information as I sometimes do. You want that information completely gone, not lurking in the trash can.
In the past, I’ve recommended apps that can unsubscribe you from newsletters and so forth to try to keep the level of incoming mail to a manageable level. However, there have been issues with at least one of these services selling personal data so now I recommend unsubscribing yourself from things manually, as they come up in your inbox. Yes, it takes longer, but at least you don’t get zillions of offers of stuff you don’t need from companies you’d not want to use, who purchased your data so they can spam your inbox with rubbish.
A further option for newsletters and other interesting information is to have a folder into which you can move emails that might be needed in the future. However, for some people, including me, this renders the information “out of sight, out of mind” and they rarely, if ever, visit the folder to retrieve the information, so this is one to treat with care and a realistic understanding of your own working practices.
Hopefully, this will help you to slim down your Gmail inbox to manageable proportions and once you have it under control you might find some useful tips here on keeping it slim and efficient.
Alternatively, if you are one of those people whose inbox is so huge that it contains every email you’ve ever received or sent, and you just can’t see where to start, why not call in an expert VA to get that bad boy sorted and under control, and set up some systems that will work for you, so you can keep it to a healthy weight in future. Click here to contact me to discuss your requirements.