feature image: how to organize gmail effectively 8 tips to get inbox zero

How to Organize Gmail Effectively: 8 Tips to Get Inbox Zero

A McKinsey report shows that people spend 28% of their time writing or answering emails. Google has developed many features to help keep Gmail accounts clean. With the following Gmail organization tips, you’ll spend less time on emails and more on productive tasks. 

How to Organize Gmail Account to Get Inbox Zero

An average professional receives about 17 emails every hour, according to McKinsey. This means your Gmail notification badge will pop up every 4 minutes. Every new email doesn’t require immediate attention. 

You need to get yourself familiar with tricks on how to keep your Gmail inbox organized. Use tools, plugins, and Gmail organization features to stay productive. 

1. Archive Emails You Don’t Need

Your Gmail inbox receives too many emails you don’t need. They fill your inbox, and you can miss an important email. Unnecessary items in your priority inbox add pressure to your mind. They take up much of your productive time as you open and read each. You can archive them to read later. 

Related: What is Email Archiving and Why You Need It

To access your Gmail downloads easily, create a folder to store your attachments. Downloaded email attachments can take up a lot of storage. They may contain dangerous files. You must check all of your files regularly to make sure they are clean. Remove unnecessary files, so you won’t have a cluttered inbox. To archive unnecessary emails, follow these Gmail organization tips. 

  • Open your Gmail inbox
  • Highlight the emails you want to archive by ticking the checkbox
  • A row of icons will appear above the inbox tab
  • The second box has an arrow that points downward
  • Click on it, and your checked email will be archived
  • The email goes to the All Mail label. 
archiving emails you don't read to achieve inbox zero

2. Create Gmail Labels for Your Emails 

Gmail labels help you categorize and tag your Gmail messages. You can add multiple labels to an email and give each a name. Tick on any email to display a row of icons above the letters. The label icon is the last item on the list.

To add labels or multiple labels to your Gmail:

  1. Open your Gmail
  2. Tick on the messages you want to label
  3. Open the label icon
create gmail labels for your emails to stay organized
  1. Select the option you wish to choose or create a new label
steps to creating new gmail labels for your emails

To add color to your label:

  • Click on the label to highlight it
  • At the edge of the label, there are three dots
  • Click on them to open a dialog box
  • Click on the label color
  • Select the color you want

3. Use Hashtags Inside Your Emails

Gmail is a good productivity tool and email organizer when appropriately used. Hashtags make it easier to find specific messages in Gmail. They work like keywords when you need to locate certain emails fast or find relevant emails. 

You add a word preceded by the # symbol without adding space. It appears like this – #travel. To add hashtags to your Gmail messages:

  • Go to your Gmail and open Compose
  • You can add the # symbol in the subject row or at the beginning of your message.
  • You may add the # at the end of the message
  • If you send it to a recipient, color the text white to make it invisible.

Let’s say you want to # all emails from Sebastian Chako. Write it like this – #SebatianChako. Anytime you want to refer to his emails, search the hashtag to display them in the Gmail search bar. 

using hashtags inside your emails

This is similar to how people use hashtags on social media like Instagram and TikTok videos.

4. Make Unread Emails More Visible

Your Gmail inbox populates quickly, making it harder to read all messages. You may not have time for all important messages immediately. The problem is that the system might push them further as new messages come in. Organizing your Gmail is a crucial step here. You need to remember and read an email later, mark it as unread or mark messages with stars. Visuals are essential in text-heavy interfaces like an inbox and starred messages help a lot. 

Follow these steps to make your unread emails more visible on Gmail.

  1. Go to your Gmail
  2. In the top right-hand corner, click on the gear icon
  3. Click All Settings
organizing your gmail by making unread emails more visible
  1. Click Advanced
  2. Scroll to the Unread message icon and select Enable
  3. Gmail will display all your unread messages
  4. You can label the ones you feel are important
enabling your unread messages to be displayed by gmail

5. Learn Gmail’s Keyboard Shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts for Gmail save time and help to organize your Gmail efficiently. You improve productivity, focus on the current tasks, and avoid multitasking.

To use keyboard shortcuts in Gmail:

  • Open your Gmail
  • Open the gear icon on the top right corner
  • Open all settings
  • Scroll to Keyboard shortcuts
  • Click Keyboard shortcuts on
  • Click Save Changes

Here are essential keyboard shortcuts for Gmail. Use Ctrl on windows and ⌘  if you are using Mac. 

  • Press p to view the previous message
  • Ctrl + Enter to send 
  • Ctrl + Shift + c to add cc recipients
  • # to delete
  • ! to mark as spam
  • Shift + I to mark as read
essential keyboard shortcuts for gmail

6. Use Dots in Your Gmail Address

Adding dots to the local-part or username of Gmail email address doesn’t affect message delivery. No matter how many dots you add, emails will still reach the recipient. You can also use dots to organize your Gmail inbox.

Let’s look at an example email: spencerpaul@gmail.com. You can decide to tweak it like spencer.paul@gmail.com. Or like sp.en.ce.rp.aul@gmail.com. 

You can give these different email addresses to different people. Use the cleanest version of your email address without dots for work. A version with a dot between your first name and your last name for emailing friends.

Gmail ignores dots in email addresses, but it’s aware of their presence. So you can filter incoming emails automatically. Separate different versions of your email address when they arrive.

7. Create Email Aliases in Gmail Using +

Another way to create an email alias is to add a + to the end of the username part (before @). Keep your priority inbox organized for better Gmail productivity. Let’s say your email address is edgarxavior@gmail.com. You can create an alias email like edgarxavior+emailaudience@gmail.com. Then create email filters to land emails in the preferred folder.

  • Open Gmail
  • Go to the Search bar, a drop-down menu will open
  • Type “temporary alias”
  • Click Create filter
  • Scroll to Choose a category and choose one category
  • Click Create filter

8. Add Emails to Google Task

Gmail allows you to add emails to your Google tasks. Create quick emails for some recipients. You can use this feature to add new data or notes. To add a task:

  1. Go to your Gmail
  2. Tick the box of the email you want to add a task for
  3. On the list of icons on top, click the 3 dots, then “Add to tasks”.
how to add emails to google task

add email to task option in gmail
  1. The task sidebar will appear. Click “Add a task”.
my tasks sidebar in gmail

Wrapping up How to Organize Gmail Inbox

It’s hard to work in a cluttered Gmail inbox. It’s hard to digest and distracting. Get to inbox zero with the Gmail organization tips. 

Archive unnecessary emails, labels, and hashtags. Learn Gmail keyboard shortcuts to save more time. It might take time to master the combinations, but you will get used to them soon. 

Check out this list of drag-and-drop email template builders to send HTML emails from Gmail without coding

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

You can organize thousands of emails in Gmail with a bulk email organizer tool or do it manually. A tool, like Clean Email, organizes your emails by moving some to folders and deleting others. It groups similar emails or marks important ones to keep them on top. 

To organize Gmail manually, delete emails you don’t need and label your inbox. Mark the critical emails to put them on top. Add hashtags in your emails, and use dots in your addresses or + to create alias addresses. Then create filters to keep incoming emails organized.

The easiest way to declutter your Gmail inbox is to create labels. It’s an approach that seeks to create an “inbox zero.” The aim isn’t to delete all emails but to label them in different folders. Add hashtags in your emails, and use dots in your addresses or + to create aliases. Then filter messages to keep incoming emails organized. After reading new emails, archive, tag, and move them into their unique folders. 

This way, you create room for new emails that you can easily manage. Unsubscribe from emails that you aren’t interested in.

To mass delete old emails in Gmail, follow these steps. 

  • On the Search bar, enter the search query and press enter. For example, to move social media emails older than one year.  Type the search query this way. Category: “social,older_than:1y”. 
  • The search results will display
  • Click the select box on top of the Primary email icon. It will select all displayed emails. To select all the matching email click “Select all X,XXX conversations”.
  • A list of icons will display on top. Click the delete icon to delete everything selected.

No, Gmail doesn’t have a cleanup tool. But there are third-party cleanup tools, like Gmail Cleaner. You can use it to search and delete emails in your priority inbox. Your Gmail might have undetected viruses or phishing emails. If you want to detect and remove those emails, use the cleaner tool. You may decide to clean big attachments or block senders. You may unsubscribe from lists or delete by date, sender, content, or label.

Anna Lysiuk

Anna Lysiuk is a member of the MacPaw marketing team. She enjoys writing about digital marketing, technology, and professional productivity.