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Hack Your Productivity With These 9 Gmail Tips

By Ryan Stewart

Watching my business grow is an amazing feeling.

Dealing with the administrative headaches that come along with it SUCKS.

Pitching new clients, managing existing ones, maintaining staff, keeping an eye on the books and whoa – the emails!

I mean, really, people are out of control with emails, aren’t they?

A friend of mine suggested I use Gmail for email and productivity purposes. Within the first week I saw a massive boost in productivity.

In this post, I’m going to show you nine ways to use Gmail to hack productivity.

1. Take back mistakes with the “Unsend” feature.

If you service clients, I know you feel me – they can be a pain (but if you guys are reading this, I love you!).

Sometimes I get irritated and send “less than favorable” email responses. The “Unsend” feature is a godsend allowing me to take back emails.

How to set it up:

  • Click the gear icon on the top right
  • Select settings
  • Find “Undo Send”
  • Click “Enable Undo Send”
  • Click “Save” at the bottom of the screen

Now, you’ll be given a grace period to retract the email.

2. Stop checking multiple email accounts.

How annoying is it having to check four different email platforms?

I push all emails through my Gmail, including my professional ones.

You can forward and respond from your work email through Gmail. I’m able to log into Gmail, send emails from my company email, personal work email and my Gmail account.

Outlook has one-tenth of the capabilities of Gmail. Seriously, get rid of it.

Note: Please don’t spam me!

This alone is a huge time saver but wait, there’s more!

I’m a Mac and iPhone user so I regularly use Apple’s calendar to schedule events. Did you know logging into your Apple calendar with your Gmail auto syncs the two?

Gmail syncs with Google Calendar which auto syncs with iCalendar, which means all of my appointments and meetings are pushed to my devices.

I know there’s a ton of tools that do this for you but this one is free and simple.

How to set it up:

I’m not going to lie to you, it’s a pain to setup, so I paid someone $20 to do it for me.


If you’re really tight on cash, here are some resources to help you out:

3. Leverage free tools to streamline processes

A friend of mine runs a high traffic website that gets hundred of inquiries a day. He tipped me off to Streak, a free plugin with a ton of powerful features:

Manage pipelines and segment emails. I use it to keep my sales funnel intact and manage prospects from lead to close.

Send later feature. Full transparency, when I send proposals I schedule them to send at 6:00 am. This gives the impression to potential clients that I’m a hard worker that’s up early every day. Judge me if you want, it works!

Track views and location. I don’t know how this is legal but the plugin tracks when and where your email was opened. This is a powerful feature to split test email headlines, copy and set a follow up sequence.

How to set it up

PS: Don’t forget to download it here.

4. Share your email load with others

I work with around 10 freelancers for my agency. Half of them are using email for their everyday tasks: doing PR outreach, pitching content and responding to clients.

I like all outreach to be done from my account. The acceptance rate is four times higher this way because we’re leveraging my name and my reputation.

Gmail has a feature allowing you to grant access to others without giving them your password.


NOTE: Credit to David Hunter for this tip.

How to set it up:

  • Click the gear icon on the top right
  • Select settings
  • Select “Accounts and Import”
  • Find “Grant access to your account”
  • Add their email
  • Click “Save” at the bottom of the screen

5. Standardize your outgoing emails

The more you provide outsourced labor, the better.

Gmail’s “canned response” feature allows my team to fire off hundreds of outreach emails in a matter of minutes, all based on templates I created.

This ensures no spelling errors, correct grammar and perfect pitches.

How to set it up:

  • Click the gear icon on the top right
  • Select settings
  • Click “Labs” tab
  • Find “Canned Responses”, click “Enable”
  • Click “Save” at the bottom of the screen

  • Draft an email that you’d like to use as a template
  • Click the little triangle in the bottom right of the email
  • Select “Canned responses”
  • Click “Save”

6. Never forget to ‘reply all’ again

My first job out of college was with Accenture consulting and I had the pleasure of working for a huge asshole. He’d flip out if you forgot to ‘reply all’ to a message with numerous recipients.

Gmail has a setting that changes the default behavior to ‘reply all’ – that way you’ll never leave important people out of email chains.

How to set it up:

  • Click the gear icon on the top right
  • Select settings
  • Select “General”
  • Find “Default reply behavior”
  • Select “Reply all”
  • Click “Save” at the bottom of the screen

7. Stay on top of your game with task lists

How many times does this email scenario happen to you:

  • Monday: “Hey Ryan, we’re having an issue with [fill in blank]. Can you look into it for me?”
  • Friday: “Hey Ryan, did you get a chance to take a look at it?”

Damn.

I started using Gmail tasks and this situation occurs much less (well, less anyways).

Adding an email to Tasks creates a to do list, alerting to you follow up and stay on top things you need to do.

How to set it up:

  • Select the email you’d like to add
  • Select “More”
  • Select “Add to Tasks”

8. Declutter your inbox and stay organized

Folders are a simple feature allowing you to group emails into buckets. This is a great feature when you can’t delete an email but want to remove the clutter from your inbox.

How to set it up:

  • Click the gear icon and select “Settings”
  • Click “Labels”
  • Find “Labels”, click “Create new label”

How you bucket your emails is up to you, but here’s how I do it:

  • Use numbers in front of your label – this organizes them numerically. When you’ve got a ton of folders it’s much easier to find the ones you want
  • Use sub folders to further bucket content and de clutter your folders section
  • Simply select the email, click the folder icon and select the folder you’d like to move the email to

9. Track inbound mail without checking your inbox

At any given time, I’ve got anywhere from 17 to 400 tabs open on my browser.

When this happens, you can’t see if you’ve got unread mail in your box.

You can enable your browser tab to show unread emails in your inbox.

How to set it up:

  • Click the gear icon on the top right
  • Select settings
  • Click “Labs” tab
  • Find “Unread message icon”, click “Enable”
  • Click “Save” at the bottom of the screen

Gmail might not be for you…

Gmail isn’t the only email platform that has these features – Yahoo’s made tremendous strides over the last year as well.

It’s a natural fit for my agency because we live in other Google products like Analytics, AdWords and Drive.

If you’re comfortable with your email provider, look into features available. They should have similar aspects to help save time and headaches.

Did I miss anything? What are your favorite Gmail hacks?

  • Jack Scotty

    This is great stuff, but have you heard of Inbox by GMail? http://www.google.com/inbox/

  • http://webris.org Ryan Stewart

    I have! I use it on my phone but it desktop is another story

  • Niraj Ranjan Rout

    Excellent article, Ryan. Some great tips you have got there. Do check out grexit.com, really good for sharing emails (by just adding labels – no need to forward), and for delegating emails to your team-mates. It also lets you write notes on emails.

  • Jacob Alvarez

    “If you service clients, I know you feel me – they can be a pain in the a**”
    “I’m not going to lie to you, it’s a pain in the a** to setup, so I paid someone $20 to do it for me.”
    “I don’t know how this sh** is legal but the plugin tracks when and where your email was opened.”
    “My first job out of college was with Accenture consulting and I had the pleasure of working for a huge a**hole.”
    “Sh**.”

    Guys, can we please eliminate the profanity? I understand this is the Internet, and you can say just about anything you want, but should you?

    This seems to be quite prevalent among blogs and other articles online. Why? What value does it add? It’s unprofessional.

    Also, what if younger readers happen upon it? I imagine there are a lot of teenagers and younger who are getting into web and software development and are reading these posts. Do you really want to set that example for them?

    Please consider how you say things. It’s sometimes more important than what you say. Thanks for the tips, though. Will definitely use them.

    • Age-Jan (John) Stap

      I agree with Jacob on this point. We see more and more blogs and other stuff that are polluted with words that we would never have used a couple of years ago. I understand that Ryan is a consultant and as such in contact with the business people. I assume that the language used in corporate offices will be cleaned up? Why then use this type off language on us?

      • adam__roberts

        Hey guys.

        Fair enough, I don’t mind a few well-deployed swears every now and again (I’d also hate to see the kind of language used in some high-pressure businesses). But I see your point and in the interest of keeping our articles as accessible as possible, I just edited out a few of the more gratuitous examples.

        Cheers!

        – Adam

  • http://myuntangled.com Jacob Clayton

    Many thanks for a fantastic round-up with a lot of tips I hadn’t known about!!

  • http://ricardozea.me/ Ricardo Zea

    What an awesome bunch of tips.

    Regarding the language, I like it and it makes the whole article more “human” and less tutorial-like. It also shows the kind of person you are: a no BS guy. Haven’t met the first person that doesn’t like a no BS person.

    This article is about increasing productivity with Gmail tips, not about if the author used or not which words or which other words. WTF cares. Bad words are part of life, everyone says them even when they say the don’t say them.

    For younger readers and everyone else, read the article, take it for what it is and learn from it. If someone is going to b@#$! for the language, at least also acknowledge the value of it rather than just saying “Thanks”.

    This article effn’ rocks m/. Hmm!

  • OphelieLechat

    Love this.

    You forgot my favorite Streak feature, though — Snooze.

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/mz8i6uhja5398j6/Screenshot%202015-08-05%2013.19.12.png?dl=0

    It removes messages from your inbox until a scheduled time — similar to Mailbox or Gmail Inbox, but easier to schedule a specific time.

    • http://AhmadAwais.com/ Ahmad Awais

      But are you comfortable with giving it access to your emails?

    • http://AhmadAwais.com/ Ahmad Awais

      But are you comfortable with giving it access to your emails?

  • http://AhmadAwais.com/ Ahmad Awais

    Good one, though sadly I am using all of these little hacks, except Streak, since I don’t like giving it so much access.

  • http://AhmadAwais.com/ Ahmad Awais

    Good one, though sadly I am using all of these little hacks, except Streak, since I don’t like giving it so much access.

  • Dezen

    I want to let you know that all those features are nice but did you know that the terms and conditions of Google state that all data inside their system is theirs? I only use it for analytics and adwords.

    One word: Illuminati

    Microsoft on the other hand states in their terms and conditions that your data will always remain yours!

    Just my two cents.

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    Any skills, Degree ,Specific qualification is not necessary for this, just keyboard typing and a good working and reliable internet connection ….

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  • mary woods

    Everyone should be careful of who they contact on here alot of fakes everywhere, i thought this hacking thing was a joke till i needed someone to do a private hacking for me and also a facebook. i was introduced to cyberwizard.140@gmail.com by my very good British friend, so i decided to try him and he passed. firstly he proves to you he is not a cheat by working a sample job that you confirm first then you are 100% sure he can do your work without being cheated. he never ask for payment first, he Shows proof works first he is just great.

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