Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

5 Great Ways to Optimize Your Gmail Account

We know there are many email providers out there–Hotmail, Yahoo, Earthlink–but let’s face it: the 21st Century belongs to Gmail (so far at least). No other email service offers as much versatility, great spam filters and array of tools as Gmail.

Many of us spend a good portion of our days emailing, and many of us use Gmail. And while we’ve offered suggestions on reducing time spent emailing in general, reduction is not elimination, so why not make our experiences as swift and efficient as possible?

Gmail offers many extensions, plug-ins and add-ons that optimize your account, saving time and energy. Here are 5 user-friendly tools we particularly like:

  1. Canned Responses. This is one of Gmail Labs many great concoctions. It allows you to insert stock responses into emails, be they links, text, phrases etc. This is perfect for repetitive emails. For example you can create text with your address and embed a link to Google maps. Or you can have a stock appointment request and modify details. A dropdown menu appears in your compose window with your various canned responses (see above). To activate–or any other Labs plugin–go to Settings [the little gear on upper right corner of inbox] > ‘Labs’ tab > scroll down to Canned Responses > click Enable > scroll down to Save Changes. (Note: Google warns that Labs “may change, break or disappear at any time”; though we’ve never had an issue).
  2. Google Tasks started off on Labs and is now a permanent fixture on Gmail and Google Calendar. It is a simple window at the bottom of your inbox with a list of things to do. It’s as simple as adding them on and checking them off. It’s like an electronic post it. Click on the large “Gmail” text in upper left hand of inbox and Task pain will pop up.
  3. Google Calendar Gadget is great for the person who’s life rides on Google rails–i.e. using Gmail, Google Docs/Drive, Google Calendar and so forth. Those folks often find themselves switching between their inbox and calendar. With this gadget you can see a calendar view in your inbox and even add new appointments without leaving your inbox. Settings > Labs > Google Calendar Gadget > Enable > Save Changes.
  4. Auto-advance takes care of a small, but annoying issue with Gmail. Sometimes you want to rip through a bunch of emails and when you delete one, Gmail takes you back to your inbox rather than the next message. Auto advance eliminates the unnecessary detour by taking you to your next email. Settings > Labs > Auto-advance > Enable > Save Changes.
  5. Boomerang is a plugin for Firefox and Chrome browsers that has several useful features. One setting allows you to resend an email at a specified time should the person you email not respond; this saves the hassle of remembering or scheduling a followup. Another feature allows you to schedule an email delivery at a later date; for example, perhaps you’re working on a Saturday night but you want your email to land in a client’s inbox Monday afternoon. Lastly, it pings you at a set time should you not hear back from the person you emailed. Oh, it’s free.
Do you have other Gmail (or even non-Gmail) tools that save you time and energy? Let us know in our comment section below.