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Managing Your Workflow Pt. I - Setting Your Gmail Inbox Up For Success

Staying organized and maintaining an efficient workflow is essential for success. Your organization starts with your email; we all receive so many inbound messages that if we don't stay on top of them, we'll drown.

Setting Up Your Workspace

It's extremely difficult to stay efficient if your workspace isn't set up correctly. That entails the following:
  • Reliable high-speed internet: With the volume of tasks that we're expected to complete each workday, we have absolutely no room for laggy or undependable internet. If your internet isn't up to speed, let your superiors know immediately. If they don't resolve the situation, let Support know that your ability to be efficient is hampered by your lack internet, so that we can get involved.
  • A dependable, fast computer: Same deal as the internet; we have way too much to do in our workdays to be set back by subpar technology. Talk to your superiors if your computer is holding you back.
  • An extra monitor (no exceptions for content managers!): With the amount of calendars that we have to reference and social media feeds that we need to monitor, an extra monitor is essential for success when managing content in our network.
  • An extra mouse, keyboard, and any other peripherals: Any peripheral that makes you more productive is worth the investment. 
Once your workspace is set up for success, the next step is to dig into your Gmail.

Keyboard Shortcuts

This success starts with keyboard shortcuts. To turn on your keyboard shortcuts:
  • Open your Gmail
  • Click the cogwheel in the top right part of the screen
  • Select 'Settings'
  • Scroll halfway down the screen and check the box next to 'Keyboard Shortcuts' to turn them on.
  • Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click 'Save Changes'
The next step will be to turn on custom keyboard shortcuts. The advantages of installing this feature are twofold:
  • It allows you to personalize your keyboard shortcuts.
  • It allows you to see exactly what your keyboard shortcuts are.
To install custom keyboard shortcuts:
  • Open your Gmail
  • Click the cogwheel in the top right part of the screen
  • Select 'Settings'
  • Select 'Labs' (from the top navigation)
  • Scroll down to 'Custom keyboard shortcuts'
  • Click 'Enable' next to that feature
  • Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click 'Save Changes'. Your email will reload after doing so; that's expected.
Viewing and personalizing your custom keyboard shortcuts:
  • Click the cogwheel in the top right part of the screen
  • Select 'Settings'
  • Select 'Keyboard Shortcuts' (from the top navigation)
While all of the available keyboard shortcuts can be very helpful, there is one that is particularly relevant to the our recommended workflow, and that is 'Archive and go to next conversation'. It's '{' by default. We recommend switching the shortcut with the 'e' that's assigned to 'Archive' by default, so that row of shortcuts looks like this after your edits:


When you're done setting up these shortcuts to your liking, scroll down to the bottom of the screen and click 'Save Changes.'

Canned Responses

There is one more lab that we highly recommend installing: Canned Responses. Canned Responses allow you to save any email to re-use as often as you'd like. To install Canned Responses,
  • Click the cogwheel in the top right part of the screen
  • Select 'Settings'
  • Select 'Labs' (from the top navigation)
  • Scroll down to 'Canned Responses'
  • Click 'Enable' next to that feature
  • Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click 'Save Changes'. Your email will reload after doing so; that's expected.
Using Canned Responses:

When you type a response that you think you'll want to re-use at a later date, do the following before you send the message:
  • Click the arrow in the bottom right corner of the screen.
  • Select 'Canned Responses'...
  • From there, scroll down to select 'New canned response...
  • Then give your response a title (that you'll remember when referencing this subject again) and save it.
The next time you're asked a similar question, or would like to use your canned response again:
  • Click the arrow in the bottom right corner of the screen.
  • Select 'Canned Responses'.
  • Select the response....
... to populate that response into the body of your new reply.

From there, you can edit the response to personalize it to this specific situation.

Parity With Other Accounts

Since all of your inbox management techniques should quickly turn into habits, it's important to set up any other personal accounts in exactly the same way as your work account. You don't want to have to stop and think about which account you're using before using a shortcut.

Other Resources

This article highlights two specific resources to enhance your daily email workflow. Beyond these labs, there are countless other resources and add-ons for your inbox available online, but be careful: Extra tools don't always lead to more productivity, and there are plenty of email hacks and add-ons that conflate an empty inbox with a productive workday. 

The Next Step: What To Do With Your Emails

Now that you have your workspace and email set up for success, let's talk about what to do with all of the emails you receive. That article is coming very soon!
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