how to: organize your inbox

We’ve all been there: that overwhelming moment when your email inbox has literally thousands of messages in it and every time you see a new unread one appear it’s like another pin in some strange voodoo doll. Well, what if I told you there was a remedy to this email anxiety? What if I told you your inbox could look like this:


It can!! The key is to properly take advantage of the folder labeling system that all Gmail-based accounts provide you with. Here are the simple steps:


1. Go to the settings button (that wheel-like picture) in the upper right-hand corner and click on “settings.”


2. Choose “Labels” along the top bar of settings options.


3. Scroll down and select “Create new label.”




4. Enter your new label name and click “create.” For my school account, I have labels for each of the courses I am taking/have taken, a general folder for all club-related emails, one for billing, another for course registration, one for study abroad, and finally one for work/internships.


5. When you are finished reading a new email, select the “Move to” icon (a picture of a folder) at the top of the window and choose which folder you would like to nest the email under.


VOILA! A beautiful and organized email inbox!!


Now, the key to making the system effective is knowing when to move an email from your inbox into its proper folder. I move an email after all actions required by the email are completed. For example, if the email discusses meeting with someone, I will not move it into, say, the “Club” folder until I have met with that person. If the email contains clarification information regarding an upcoming homework assignment, I will not move it into its class folder until the assignment is done. If the email requires a response, but I do not have enough time to respond at that very moment for whatever reason, I will leave it in my inbox until I have responded to the person and am all set with that email. Using the folder system this way, your inbox becomes a sort-of to-do list (something I find very exciting!!).


Now, this all may sound like a lot of work, but the system is actually quite wonderful and definitely increases your email efficiency. At the very least it makes you feel more organized, which is almost just as good as actually being organized.


Do you have any organizational tips of your own? I’d love to hear about them!

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My name is Catherine Elizabeth Ziac (Cat, for short) and I am a senior at Union College in Schenectady, NY. When I'm not studying for my major in economics or my minor in Russian, you can find me skimming through catalogs, playing the flute, fishing, online window shopping, chatting with my sisters (my twin, Julia, studying physics at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, CA, or my little sister Maddy, currently a senior in high school), or out and about in good old Schenectady with my wonderful Union friends! I love pink nails, long showers, office supplies, and going to the public library. I spend too much time looking at blogs and skimming the WSJ online, but I still believe in the merits of a hand-written letter. I am always in the mood for yogurt and granola and am never without a piece of gum. I usually answer "blue" when asked my favorite color, but I know in my heart that it's always been and always will be garnet!

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