How To Declutter Your Inbox with Gmail Filters
Due to my many different jobs and commitments, I currently have ten different email addresses that all go to one Gmail Inbox! And even though I get upwards of 100 emails every day, my Inbox almost always has less than 5 emails when I close up shop for the night.
No, I don’t spend all day checking and responding to email… and no, I don’t just delete them without responding. Instead, I use filters to automatically file my incoming emails to the appropriate folders — this way, they don’t even show up in my Inbox and I can respond to emails in batches when I have time.
For example, I have a filter set up for each of my different jobs — so whenever I get an email for a particular job, it goes directly to that folder and I can then handle all the emails at once — saving me lots of time, making it easier to track my hours, allowing me to focus on one job at a time, and keeping my Inbox blissfully clutter-free.
If you’ve never used email filters before, here’s how to set them up in your Gmail account:
STEP 1: Get to the “Filters” tab
Click on the “gear” in the top right corner of your Inbox, then click on settings. Finally, click on “Filters”.
STEP 2: Create Your First Filter
Once you click on the “Filters” tab, you should see a link towards the bottom center of the window that says “Create a New Filter”.
When you click on that link, the following form will pop up. Fill out the information and then click “Create filter with this search”
The majority of my filters are set up very simply — if it comes “From” a certain email (for a client or a specific job) it goes to that job’s folder in my email account. Also, if an email comes “To” one of my various email address, it will also go in that job’s folder.
I also have a filter set up for Craigslist emails since I do a lot of buying and selling on Craigslist. In this case, I set up the filter so any email with the word “Craigslist” in the subject line goes to my Craigslist folder.
You can play around with the different options — and remember, you can always edit or delete the filter later (see Step 5 below!)
STEP 3: Customize Your Filter
After you “create your filter” another box will pop up with different customizable options for your newly created filter.
I ALWAYS click “Skip the Inbox” so I don’t ever have to look at the filtered emails until I’m ready to read or respond. I also check the box “Never send it to Spam” because I don’t want to miss any of those emails.
One thing to note, if you do choose to have all these emails skip your Inbox, you’ll want to “Apply a label” to those filtered emails.
For example, as I mentioned above, I have separate folders/labels for different projects, different jobs, different clients, and even for personal things like Craigslist. So certain client emails will go directly to their folder, any emails with Craigslist in the title will go directly to my Craigslist file, etc.
Once you have the the filter set up how you want it, click the blue “Create Filter” button (and remember, you can always change things later if you want).
STEP 4: Use Your Filters
After you have your filters set up, you will no longer get those emails in your inbox — instead, they will go directly to the folders you specified in step 3 above.
However, you’ll easily be able to tell when you have unread messages in any of your folders by the bold number to the right of the folder. Once you have a few unread emails in a specific folder, you can click on that folder and read, respond, file, delete as necessary — all in one concise time period.
STEP 5: Edit or Delete Filters
Once your filters are set up, you can easily edit or delete them at any time via the Filter option under the Settings tab. Just click the “edit” or “delete” button to the right of the filter you want to alter, make the necessary changes, and click update.
It’s that easy!
So that’s how you set up a filter in Gmail!
I know this might sound like a lot of hassle — especially at first — but I’d guess that my filters save me AT LEAST 1 hour every day because I don’t have to manually file these emails, I don’t have to look at them and scroll past them to find other emails, and I can deal with similar emails in “batches” instead of one at a time.
Wouldn’t you love to save at least 1 hour every day?
Plus, as an added bonus, my Inbox is always clutter free — which psychologically makes me feel less stressed every time I check my email!