10 Super Simple Tips to Sort your Gmail Inbox.
Is your email inbox in a constant state of overwhelm?
It's absolutely no surprise that one of the admin tasks handed over to a Virtual Assistant is Email Management. Emails are unavoidable in this digital age, and your inbox can get overwhelming veryyyyy quickly.
Hands up if you just don't have time to sort out & manage your overflowing inbox?!
To help save YOU time, I've listed the best tips that Virtual Assistants use to get your inbox organised and how to utilise tools to keep it under control and manageable. In a nutshell, email management involves prioritising emails that you need to action, sorting emails you need to keep, and clearing out the junk you no longer require. It's in no way rocket science but can be fecking time consuming to implement a system to keep it under control.
Now, I hear you. "Why do I need to do this?". I can hear this my friend, because I was YOU. When I started my own business, my own inbox got out of control so fast, even though I had spent years effectively managing both my own and other inboxes in a multitude of different roles.
By blocking out a chunk of your time to manage your email inbox, it can not only save you time and stress, but can increase productivity and efficiency within your business. Alternatively this kind of administrative task is something you can easily outsource to a Virtual Assistant to save you even more time.
Here are my 10 best tips to create calm and organizational bliss in your inbox life:
1. Create Folders (Tags in Gmail)
So let's kick this off with a simple one - FOLDERS! Set up your folders based on your (or your client's) personal preference, use broader categories such as...
...if that suits your style.
Or if you would prefer to be more detailed, you can sort through what emails you get on a daily basis and group them together in categories such as admin, clients, projects and any other that suit, then create subfolders as you go. For example:
*TO DO (Star so it appears at the top of the list)
Admin (own business admin)
One big advantage to creating folders is that it saves you time finding emails relating to the same purpose, and can assist if the inbox is shared by multiple users.
Also. THERE IS NO LIMIT TO FOLDERS! Use as many as you want - these are YOUR rules.
I like to sort my inbox by "flagged" or important items first – this way you can see what needs to be actioned as soon as you check your mail.
Create a system of different coloured flags (in gmail these are called 'stars'), and use different colors for different priorities.
In gmail I like to use:
I use the red exclamation mark to let me know that this is urgent to do, green check for done, and yellow star if important but not urgent. Then I sort my email inbox by priority emails first, so that I can easily see whats starred up top, then the rest of my inbox. You can customize how this looks in settings to your preference.
3. Filter it!
Block out a time in your calendar and spend it setting up filters (these are "rules" in Gmail) to direct emails to their appropriate folders so they don't even appear in your inbox!
Filters you can use include directing emails from a certain email address / person into an folder; or words in the subject line.
4. Add a date reminder.
Do you have an email you need to follow up with by a certain date? Add that email into your calendar or task list with a date reminder for follow up, then you can forget about it until you get a reminder on a certain date to action that task.
5. Unsubscribe from junk emails!
Either unsubscribe or change subscription preferences for email lists, so that unneccessary emails aren't clogging up your inbox! Another tip is to use a different (personal) email address for subscription emails (especially retail subscriptions), or set up an automated forwarding address for these if you want to keep them!
[I actually have a virtually jac gmail address specifically for subscriptions that don't require my business .com address!]
There are apps/websites that will automatically unsubscribe for you such as Unroll.Me which shows you a list of your subscription emails, then you are able to quickly unsubscribe from the ones you don't want clogging up your inbox anymore! Unroll.Me also can send you 1 daily digest email with any subscriptions from that day.
6. Don't be afraid to Delete
Don't afraid to be Ruthless! Delete emails that you no longer need, but make sure you take time doing this to ensure you don't delete something important - Archive or file those, instead of deleting.
Filter email by name, and bulk delete (ie. newsletter subscriptions).
Filter inbox by date and manually delete.
Ongoing - delete as emails arrive into your inbox.
7. Create Templates for frequent responses
To save a mountain of time on typing similar responses, save your most common replies as a template. This way, you can just customise the sender's name
Check out this reel on Instagram for how to turn on the templates setting in Gmail and how to access it in a new message. It's a little quicker in Outlook as the option is already there in your new mail message. By creating templates for common replies, you save time by not needing to type out the entire email every time, you just need to personalize the template.
8. Manage Shared Inboxes
If you have a shared inbox (ie: sales@XYZ.com or info@XYZ.com) it's really important to have a clear plan of how to manage emails. One system is to have a folder named "TO ACTION - JAC" or "Review - Manager". This way, if you need someone else to action an email, they can check that folder first and action as needed. I have a shared inbox with one of my clients, and I have sorted the inbox by 'flags' and renamed one "CLIENT NAME - TO ACTION" and another "JAC - TO ACTION" then flag the emails as appropriate. When completed, my client flags the emails with a tick mark flag and I know to file that away.
9. Be Proactive!
Are you getting a lot of similar enquiries coming through from your website? Consider setting up (or updating!) a page on your website dedicated to Frequently Asked Questions, and on your "contact me" page, direct clients to check this FAQ first before sending a message through. Psst. I can help with this if you have NFI what I'm talking about...
10. Automated Replies
On the same theme as #9, if you don't already have automations set up.... This is one of the easiest ways to manage expectations, and alleviate multiple messages being sent by clients.
Set up an automatic reply to website contact forms - including expected response time, direction to FAQ page and a contact for urgent issues|
Set up automated replies to key words in emails. ie if the subject = "Question about refund" you could have an automated response with that you will respond to their query within 48 hours, and include your refund policy in the email.
In addition, if you only work 2 days a week, ENSURE you have an automated reply to clients stating which days you will be in the office to answer emails, and give another contact for urgent enquiries.
Having a well organised inbox means that you are able to SAVE TIME by quickly viewing emails that need actioning, and any emails that you need to reference, have been saved and easily found for future reference. In addition, setting up automations and templates saves you time by having emails pre-written for you, ready to go!
If you want to even further uplevel your email automation, contact us at Virtually Jac to see how we can help you automate your processes with your email marketing campaigns.