A guest post by Colin Carson.

Most of us spend many hours each work day reading and sending emails.  How many times have you gone to bed with a clean inbox, and the next morning there were 50 emails waiting for you?  Managers and employees in almost every industry have the same experience.  Although we can’t cut back on the communication, we can use the tools at our disposal to more effectively deal with emails.  Gmail, Google’s email platform, is a tool that millions of people use, but very few realize its true potential.  Below are a few tips to help you and your users make the most out of Gmail.

Gmail Labels

One of my personal favorite features of Gmail is the ability to label individual emails.  You can always “star” emails, but eventually with enough volume that also becomes confusing.  Labels allow you to add emails to folders such as Social, Important, Notes, or you can create your own folders such as To Do, Vacation, etc.

Gmail Filters

Labels are awesome, but what if there was a way to automatically move content into a certain label without any clicking and dragging on your part?  That’s where Filters come in.  By adding a filter, you can move emails from a certain person, with certain keyword, containing attachments, or other criteria to designated labels.  This tool allows you to organize your emails effortlessly, giving you more time to work on the actual emailing.

Gmail Integration with Google Docs and Google Calendar

Gmail has emerged as a major player in the email market due to its complete integration with other Google applications.  For example, attachments used to be a hassle due to compatibility issues with different machines as well as having to have the document saved to your computer.  Now, all that you need to do is create a Google document and attach it with ease to any Gmail message.  These documents can also be accessed from anywhere with internet access.  Also, all dates in any email can be added directly to your Google Calendar without ever having to get out a daily planner or calendar.  Invitations can be sent via Google Calendar as well.  Utilizing these Google Apps with Gmail can save countless hours of productivity.

Click-to-Call and Adding Hyperlinks to Email

Similar to the last tip, Google has added many useful features that make connecting with other people and websites painless.   They have introduced a “Click to Call” feature which allows users to call a phone number by just clicking the number in an email, as long as the voice and video plugin is installed in Gmail.  In addition, hyperlinks are easier to create than ever by simply highlighting the text and pressing command+K shortcut.

Canned Responses in Gmail

Many people send hundreds of emails in an average work day.  How many of these emails could be managed by a generic response of acknowledgment rather than a full-blown personal email? This simple tool allows you to create a response that can be recycled to deal with similar requests.  Below is a link to a simple video demonstrating how to set up a canned response:

Google Tasks

Another simple feature that often times gets overlooked is the “tasks” options.  Tasks combine both the functionality of Gmail with a virtual post-it note.  Now instead of writing down goals and tasks that need to be accomplished, you can integrate it with your email list.  Tasks can be created by going to the Gmail tab on the left-hand side of the screen and the selecting Tasks, which is right underneath Contacts.  You have the ability to create different task lists, reorder the current list, as well as set due dates for a specific time or day using Google Calendar.

Gmail is Free!

Gmail provides one of the best-integrated email systems that the market has to offer, all for free (or for $5/mo as part of Google Apps).  If you haven’t tried Gmail, now is the perfect time to begin saving both time and money by consolidating many daily tasks into one easy-to-use tool.

Photo credit: Google via Wikipedia Commons

One thought on “ Becoming an Efficient Gmail User ”

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