Today is the first day of my Time Audit. (Remember? I’m writing down my daily activities every 30 minutes in an effort to audit how I spend my time — so I can spend it more wisely in the future.)
I immediately noticed that “checking emails” takes way longer than I would have thought. I checked email last night before I went to bed.
This morning, I woke up, brushed my teeth, and opened my email. I had over 95 emails in my personal account and KOAB account combined.
95 in less than 8 hours. Eight over-night hours, mind you.
What’s even more “nuts” is that I don’t even read most of these emails — I just delete them straight away. They are lists that I had signed up for years ago, and are simply no longer relevant to me (if they ever were).
I had to stop those emails from coming into my inbox in the first place. I had to get rid of the psychic weight of hundreds of unread messages – growing by the dozens every day.
3 Time-Saving Gmail Hacks
#1: Unsubscribe from Unwanted Emails
How many emails do you get a day that you don’t even read?
Unsubscribe from them. It takes less than 30 seconds per email (I actually timed it – you know, for blogging reasons – and unsubbing from just one of them took me 18 seconds.)
Sure, that’s more time than I’d spend just clicking the delete button in my Gmail. But I have to click that button every single day. So even if it takes me just one second to do that, in 18 days, I’ll have “paid for my unsubscribe investment”.
(Ever the frugalista, I’m always thinking of ROI.)
Plus, there is something psychologically beneficial for an easily-distracted-multitasker like myself about not even having to see the emails. It frees up my brain space for more important things.
To unsubscribe from unwanted emails, just scroll to the bottom of the email and look for an Unsubscribe hyperlink. Some services are tricky and say something like, “To unsubscribe, click here” — and the word “here” is hyperlinked. Or you can automate it with a service like unroll.me.
(Just do me a favor and DON’T unsub from KOAB emails, okay? ;-))
#2: Send & Archive
With efficiency already on the brain, I noticed another redundancy/time-waster in my email habits.
I archive all of the emails that I respond to. I don’t trust myself to remember what I said – or to whom I said it. I like being able to search and find stuff from years ago — but not having it out in front of me cluttering my inbox.
So, until now, what I was doing was writing a response and pushing send. Then I’d have to drag the mouse up to click on the “Archive” button in my Gmail. I did this a few dozen times a day.
All that repetitive action wasn’t just wasting time, it was setting me up for carpal tunnel syndrome.
I vaguely recalled reading about a “Send and Archive” button. So, I googled it (60 seconds) and scanned a post that explained how to do it.
If you don’t know how to do this in Gmail, I’ll save you the trouble of googling.
First, click on the setting wheel on your Gmail account.
Then, under the General tab, scroll down to Send & Archive and make sure you check the “Enable” button.
Finally, scroll down and click “Save Changes”.
That’s it – you’re done. Your emailing time just became more efficient (and less carpal-tunnel-y).
#3: Canned Responses
I don’t know about you, but I find myself repeating myself a lot. In real life – and in email. (If you have a solution for having to repeat yourself in real life, lay it on me!)
In email, the solution — at least in Gmail — is the “Canned Response”. How did I not know about this until now?
Go to Settings > Labs. Enable Canned Response and click on the Save Changes button.
Now open a new email and click on the little grey arrow on the bottom right corner to see more options. Click on Canned Response.
Select New Response and name it. Type up your email and press send. The body of your email will automatically be saved, so the next time you need to say the same thing (again), you just select that Canned Response.
What are you favorite tips for reducing inefficiency in your email operations? How do you keep your inbox under control?