Gmail is built to help people organize the mail they receive. You can set up filters that automatically take actions when emails arrive. It’s also possible to mark important messages as starred or create themed labels for them.
However, there’s another feature you may not know about yet: Gmail’s Multiple Inboxes.
When using it, you can view several inboxes as panes on your screen in Gmail’s default view. That approach can save you a few clicks to see what you need.
How to Set Up Multiple Inboxes in Gmail
First, open Gmail, click the cog icon on the top right and choose Configure Inbox. You need to turn off Google’s automatic tabbed inbox system.
Then, uncheck the boxes for Social, Promotions, Updates, and Forums. After you do that, save your changes.
Go to Settings from the cog menu and find the Labs link on the top of the screen. Anything appearing in Labs is officially an experimental feature.
Once you’re in Labs, scroll down to Multiple Inboxes and click the radio button for Enable.
Finally, go back up to the top of the Labs page and click Save Changes.
The next time you load the Settings page, you should notice there’s a new blue Multiple Inboxes link along the top. Click it to tweak things about Multiple Inboxes to make them work best for you. The system permits up to five inboxes.
Give each pane a label, and dictate what kind of content appears in it. For instance, you might want one that shows Drafts and another for Sent Mail. Any labeled messages can also show up in one of the Multiple Inboxes panes.
Within the settings for Multiple Inboxes, change the panes positions in relation to your main inbox, too. Finally, you can pick the number of messages shown on each page of a pane.
Now you know what the Multiple Inboxes feature does and how to set it up. Next, let’s explore some effective ways to use it.
1. Designate a Label for Each Step of Kanban
Kanban is a visual-based system that shows each task and how it fits into the overall workflow. People use Kanban boards to show tasks to do, plus where those responsibilities are in the process. Each task is a card that moves onto a different board as its status changes.
Consider making a Gmail label for each stage of a Kanban workflow. You might have one that says New Projects, and another called Pending Approval. If your team sends notifications of completed work through Kanban, each team member can use certain keywords or phrases. Pay attention to those to learn how to make each label applicable and accurate.
Then, instead of looking through your main inbox for all messages related to Kanban, you can see the process flow in the Multiple Inbox panes. This method could save time by making it easier to find what you need. Furthermore, you’re less likely to lose track of messages associated with processes.
2. Create Labels for Departments or People
Perhaps you’re part of a large company and regularly communicate with various departments or people. In that case, create email address-based labels for each of them. You could make ones that say Accounting Department, Human Resources, and My Boss, for example.
Making emails from those people appear in dedicated panes reduces the chances you’ll overlook a message. You’ll also be more aware of when emails arrive. Then, you have more freedom to decide how to handle them and act accordingly.
3. See All Your Inboxes on One Screen
Like many people, you may sort Gmail inboxes for several purposes. Maybe you have a work account and a personal one. However, it’s common to set up specialty addresses for various reasons. If your company is hosting a seminar and you’re handling event registrations, the address might be [company name]SeminarRegistration@gmail.com.
You can create a “From:” label for each Gmail account. Doing that makes Multiple Inboxes show you the respective messages. Ordinarily, you must switch accounts by clicking your account icon in the right corner of Gmail. Then, choose an account from the drop-down menu.
Using Multiple Inboxes to show one inbox from another email address per pane saves time. It also prevents you from getting distracted and wondering whether you’ve checked an account yet.
4. Make Action-Based Labels
The internet is full of suggestions to help people reach Inbox Zero. One of them is to make labels beginning with the @ symbol and an action or status. You could have one that says @Awaiting reply, @Complete, or @Action.
For @Action folders, only add things that take longer than two minutes to complete and do shorter tasks right away. Otherwise, you risk clogging up your @Action folder with unnecessary stuff.
Using the @ symbol makes those labels appear at the start of the labels list. They’ll be immediately under Gmail’s standard labels on the left of your screen. However, using Multiple Inboxes means there’s no need to worry about the labels’ order. You can devote one pane to each of your most common actions. This method is excellent if visual evidence of work completed motivates you.
After getting things done, move those inbox messages to the proper action-specific labels doubling as Multiple Inboxes. Then, at the end of a day, look at all the emails in each one. Use the results as an overall gauge of your productivity, and think about ways to make improvements.
5. Give a Label Important Notification Emails
Many of today’s leading project management tools notify users by email and within the programs’ interfaces. That system increases the chances of visibility, especially when people aren’t interacting with a program. It lets them stay in the loop even when they’re only using email.
First, think about all the programs you use that give those notification emails. Then, determine whether the messages are typically important enough to see. For example, some programs only provide weekly metrics about your usage, which you may not deem essential. In other cases, though, the applications alert you about everything happening in a program that applies to you.
Provided there are no more than five relevant programs sending notification emails, give each one a Multiple Inbox pane. Keep in mind, you can set up Gmail filters that only send particular emails to a label.
With notifications from a credit card company, you might want updates about posted payments or credit score changes. However, you may not be as concerned about notification messages related to interest charges. Filters allow you to specify which emails get sent to the labels you make, and which get deleted or go elsewhere.
It’s useful to research whether a service you use includes keywords in its subject lines. Start by searching for all emails received from that company within Gmail. When you notice patterns in word usage, alter your filter so it recognizes those words. You can then make the filter behave the way you want. Here, that means emails with phrases that matter most to you go to the label corresponding to the Multiple Inboxes.
6. Set Up Priority-Level Inboxes
It’s often difficult to figure out what to do and when while looking at an inbox. As a result, you may spend more time trying to decide than carrying out worthwhile actions. Creating Multiple Inboxes based on urgency level could help you make sense of your obligations.
You could make a High-Priority inbox, followed by Medium-Priority and Low-Priority inboxes, as a starting point.
Also, if some priority-based messages relate to projects, you can state that within the label.
How Do You Organize Your Gmail Inbox?
After reading these suggestions, you probably think Multiple Inboxes is a feature worth using. It allows you to stop making unnecessary clicks and shows you essential messages based on labeling conventions. Do you use more than one computer at work? If so, you’ll especially appreciate how this Gmail capability lets you see messages from multiple sources.
After getting it set up, you’ll love how much information one strategically separated screen offers. If you find it’s hard to adjust, disabling the feature only requires one click, and you can turn it on again just as easily.
Did you enjoy these Gmail inbox organization tips? Find out how you can sort your emails on your iPhone using intelligent email apps!