At first I tried to answer in less than 140 characters but Twitter has its limitations. Plus, for the record, posterity, or anybody new to Gmail (you mean there is still someone out there not using it?), I thought this might be of some interest. So here it is: my shuper shmart aweshome Gmail label and filter strategy. You've read all this a million times before, but this time it's from me ;)
My Gmail strategy boils down to 4 obvious points :
- lots of labels, lots of filters
- as few mail as possible landing in the Inbox
- a special view for the unread mail
- a simple to-do list trick
Lots of labels, lots of filters
Any time I receive a mail and feel that more of the same type, or subject, or from the same people will come regularly, I create a label and an associated filter so the labels are assigned automatically. Almost all the labels I use are applied by filters, and practically all those filters are simple test on the sender's address or email subject.
My typical label / filter combo is something like:
Matches: from:(firstname.lastname@example.org) subject:yourls
Do this: Skip Inbox, Skip spam classifier, Apply label "YOURLS"
The important bit here is: "Skip Inbox".
Less unread emails in the Inbox
The goal of such a filter/label combo is to have most of the unread emails taken out of the Inbox view. All the emails I know I'll get every day (new comments from my blog, wp-hackers mailing list) don't pollute the Inbox, the idea being that the Inbox only contains unexpected emails, so I can pay more attention to them (and probably manually label them afterwards).
A single view for all the Unread mails
The least Unread in the Inbox, the better. This said, sometimes I want to see all the unread emails at once, especially if I have less than 10 or 15, or if I want to do a quick "Select Unread" / "Mark as read" job.
To do so, I have an "Unread" label that applies itself to all Unread emails (and dismissed once I've read them). It seems that such a label was only possible for early adopters though, but there is an alternative that is as effective: enable "Quick Links" in the Labs (help), search emails matching "is:unread" and bookmark this search as a Quick Link.
A simple to-do list
I have a label "Todo" associated with the following filter:
Matches: subject:(("todo:") OR ("to do:"))
Do this: Star it, Apply label "todo"
Sometimes I want to send myself a reminder or quickly assign a simple task: all emails I receive with a subject containing "todo:" or "to do:" are labelled "Todo" and highlighted with a star. Those emails stay in the inbox because I'll pay extra attention to them, and can be quickly reviewed using the Star view.
And that's it
I've been using Gmail since June 2004 and this filter/label strategy has always proved effective: less time dealing with emails, more attention to important stuff, less time searching for stuff.
If you're new to filtering and searching your mail, I suggest you read Using advanced search filters first.
Cheers and happy Gmailing :)
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