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  • Gmail zero inbox

    Hi

    I think that it is now impossible to achieve a zero inbox with Gmail. It's impossible to search on a Gmail inbox according to whether the mails have a folder/label. So as long as I have mail in my folders, I will never have the satisfaction of seeing my inbox empty.

    That's pretty stressful, I think you'd agree.

    It used to be a big deal on the Web. There was a lot of activity on the Web in the years up to 2009 of people complaining about it. But nobody seems to care any more. I think we should care!

    Rich

  • #2
    I'm confused. I think Gmail is by far the BEST way to keep an empty inbox. I have 120,000 emails in my Gmail account, and zero in my inbox right now.

    If you want to search within a specific label later, just use the "label:" term. For example, if I wanted to find a file with the word "invoice" in my "awesome" folder, I could search for:

    label:awesome invoice

    It's great! Just archive away, or use the time-saving "Send & Archive" labs feature to shave off a few more seconds.

    Or am I missing something here?

    Comment


    • #3
      A nice plug-in for GMAIL

      Hello,

      try this plug-in for GMAIL: http://www.activeinboxhq.com/
      An excellent helpful tool to get your GMAIL inbox to zero and for processing and organizing emails under projects, labels etc...

      tomopix

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by tomopix View Post
        Hello,

        try this plug-in for GMAIL: http://www.activeinboxhq.com/
        An excellent helpful tool to get your GMAIL inbox to zero and for processing and organizing emails under projects, labels etc...

        tomopix
        +1 for the ActiveInbox plug-in!

        It's what allowed me to finally get control of my Gmail inbox. In fact, I like it so much that I've upgraded to the Plus version and am in the process of porting all my other incoming mail to the Gmail account.

        NOTE: The basic version is free and will meet all of your reference and archiving needs. The plust version offers several extra features (most of which I probably won't be using, I just wanted to support the developers and have the option in case I needed those features)

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by mickmel View Post
          I'm confused. I think Gmail is by far the BEST way to keep an empty inbox. I have 120,000 emails in my Gmail account, and zero in my inbox right now.

          If you want to search within a specific label later, just use the "label:" term. For example, if I wanted to find a file with the word "invoice" in my "awesome" folder, I could search for:

          label:awesome invoice

          It's great! Just archive away, or use the time-saving "Send & Archive" labs feature to shave off a few more seconds.

          Or am I missing something here?
          It's probably me that's missing something. When I click on my Inbox, I see a whole load of stuff with Labels on. I don't want them there. I want to see emptiness. How do I go about doing this?

          R

          Comment


          • #6
            Click the 'Archive' button

            You can still see the emails by clicking on the relevant label or search for them, but they will not clutter your inbox.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Branestawm View Post
              It's probably me that's missing something. When I click on my Inbox, I see a whole load of stuff with Labels on. I don't want them there. I want to see emptiness. How do I go about doing this? R
              Do NOT do as the original poster in this thread implies, and "label and archive" your email. That's not processing email down to zero, that's hiding it with labels in other folders.

              Bad.

              The best way to get your Inbox to zero, is to actually process your Inbox. This means every email goes through one of the following 4 steps:

              1. Do
              2. Delegate
              3. Delete
              4. Defer
              5. Archive

              Let's go through them one at a time:

              1. Do: Read the email, and perform whatever action it requires, then delete it. Most actioable email does not need to be kept for reference (i.e. "Archived"), so you can go ahead and delete it.

              2. Delegate: If you know this email is not for your own list of actions and to-dos, delegate it to the person who is responsible for that. For example, if you get an email to take a business trip, the next action would be to book the travel. If you have a secretary that does this, Delegate the task of booking the travel to her. You could then tag this as "Waiting-For", and keep it in a "Waiting-For" folder (IMAP folders are visible as labels to GMail), or you could Delete the email altogether.

              3. Defer: If you know that performing the action required by the email would take a long time (i.e. more than 2 minutes), defer it for later, and move it to the folder appropriate for that. It does not belong in your Inbox, where you can sit and stare at it, or read it several times before you finally have the time to make it actionable.

              4. Delete: These are typically one-time, informational emails that do not require action and do not require being deferred anywhere. Joke emails, invites to the next office party, spam and the like are perfect candidates for this step.

              5. Archive: These emails are informative, knowledgebase, reference material you'll refer to more than once.

              The important take-aways here are:

              Never read the same email more than once, unless it's something you've Deferred or reference material (i.e. stored in "Archive"). Email should be read, actions performed, and deleted. Gone.

              Do NOT just label email and file it away out of your Inbox. That's completely counter to the GTD methodology (again, unless it's reference material in the Archive folder).

              The only email you should be left with, are unread emails in your Inbox, emails in the "Waiting-For" folder, and your reference folders. Email that is not yet processed shouldn't be anywhere else, stashed away in sub-folders or labeled off and hidden from your view.

              I'm a ninja when it comes to email, since I get over 300 per-day in 4 email accounts; about 80% of which requires my personal response to.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by hacker View Post
                1. Do: Read the email, and perform whatever action it requires, then delete it. Most actioable email does not need to be kept for reference (i.e. "Archived"), so you can go ahead and delete it.
                I'm of the opinion that storage is cheap so I never delete any but spam e-mail. Way too many times the informational e-mail I thought I'd never need again becomes critical to find again after 3-5 years. As a result I have e-mails going back 15+ years. And I also get typically 200+ a day. That is down from when I was getting 400-500/day.

                I agree with process but depending on your personal work style a folder called defer may become a black hole that never gets processed. I personally do much better just leaving e-mails in inbox until I really do process them and then I file them in my archived folder.

                However, I don't use Gmail and never leave any messages on any mail server for very long. All mail is stored locally to me on my machine that I control. I've run the mail the same way since I first got e-mail, through numerous mail clients. Currently I use apple Mail under POP.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Oogiem View Post
                  I agree with process but depending on your personal work style a folder called defer may become a black hole that never gets processed. I personally do much better just leaving e-mails in inbox until I really do process them and then I file them in my archived folder.
                  I never said that deferred mail should be moved to a folder specifically for deferred mail, I said move it to the appropriate folder. In most cases, that's going to be a project-specific folder, or a waiting-for folder (if you're using the GTD methdology in a strict fashion).

                  Keeping boatloads of unnecessary email is just wasteful, regardless of how "cheap storage is", it contributes to the visual clutter you have to wade through when you do need to go back through your mail folders and retrieve something important again.

                  I too, keep important email that goes back 15+ years (see here for my blog post on how I migrated that, including the original post that one links to in the first sentence), but I only ever keep emails that are useful for reference or archive purposes.

                  I don't keep non-actionable, one-time, throwaway emails from back during that time, unless it's tied to an existing mail thread or from a person that had some valueable things to say in that email.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by hacker View Post
                    In most cases, that's going to be a project-specific folder, or a waiting-for folder (if you're using the GTD methdology in a strict fashion).

                    Keeping boatloads of unnecessary email is just wasteful, regardless of how "cheap storage is", it contributes to the visual clutter you have to wade through when you do need to go back through your mail folders and retrieve something important again.
                    I guess the difference is I never use e-mail folders of any sort for project materials.

                    E-mail is my inbox and reference not lists or project support. I also don't have waiting for folder in e-mail.

                    If I need to use the item as a tickler I dump it to Omnifocus with a status of waiting using the Clip O Tron. Ditto for all actionable items.

                    It's very helpful for me to have the entire context of a message and all the threads related to it and I can't tell now what will become useful later. Often the stuff I thought was junk now becomes what I actually need in 10 years.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I am similar. Email 'folders' at work and 'labels' at home (Gmail) are for reference. Anything that is 'follow up', 'waiting for' etc becomes a project or next action as appropriate.

                      I agree on 'cheap' for Gmail and don't worry too much about deleting, just archive. The search facility is brilliant and occasionally useful to find a previous email thread. At work, with limited storage space, I am more ruthless and delete email that is definitely not required. I also archive quarterly and maybe only need to dig into the archive files a couple of times a year.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Yes, you're missing the biggest flaw in Gmail

                        Originally posted by mickmel View Post
                        I'm confused. I think Gmail is by far the BEST way to keep an empty inbox. I have 120,000 emails in my Gmail account, and zero in my inbox right now.

                        If you want to search within a specific label later, just use the "label:" term. For example, if I wanted to find a file with the word "invoice" in my "awesome" folder, I could search for:

                        label:awesome invoice

                        It's great! Just archive away, or use the time-saving "Send & Archive" labs feature to shave off a few more seconds.

                        Or am I missing something here?
                        Yes, you're missing the single-biggest requested feature from all Gmail users: The ability to search for unlabeled email. It's not possible, without all sorts of hacky mechanics that include excluding each and every label, individually.

                        Since "labels" in Gmail are really IMAP folders, I have several hundred. I run out of search query space when I try to -label:foo -label:"Bar and Blort", and so on.

                        The other problem I've noticed is that Gmail "folds" mail away, hidden, invisible in your Inbox, until you uncover it by deleting more (and I'm not talking about Page 2, Page 3, etc.).

                        The only way to really cleanse the mail folders is via searching for all unlabeled email, and Gmail lacks this feature, and it's been asked for thousands upon thousands of times, over the last 7 years.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I don't understand the problem in searching for unlabeled mail?

                          As long as you know who sent it, or some text that would be in the email, it works fine for me.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by PaulK View Post
                            I don't understand the problem in searching for unlabeled mail?
                            Yes, you don't seem to understand the problem.

                            Originally posted by PaulK
                            As long as you know who sent it, or some text that would be in the email, it works fine for me.
                            So what if you don't know the content, don't know who sent it, don't know when, and just want to find any and all email that has never been categorized, labeled or even read?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by hacker View Post
                              So what if you don't know the content, don't know who sent it, don't know when, and just want to find any and all email that has never been categorized, labeled or even read?
                              I use gmail and use labels for project reference material; all other stuff just gets archived so I know I can find it if necessary using search at a later date.

                              I don't understand why you would want a search to return [I]all[I] unlabelled email? Unless you suddenly decided you wanted to either delete all of it, or go through it and label all of it?

                              Comment

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