Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Inbox Zero - Step 4 - Filter News & Updates

Now that you have taken the plunge and cleaned out your inbox, it's time to set up some tools to help you deal with the onslaught.  Most people's email breaks down into four chunks...

Chunk #1 - Advertisements/Spam - Stuff you just don't need to to see...ever.

Chunk #2 - News & Updates - These are your emails updating you on Facebook activity...or a new blog post by a friend...or an auto email telling you your back-up software ran smoothly last night.  Notifications are important, but they add up to a bunch of clutter.

Chunk #3 - FYI Emails - You know the type...emails you are glad you read, but don't require any action on your part.

Chunk #4 - Action Emails - These are the ones you want to be sure you don't miss!  Our next few steps are going to be focused on being sure we don't lose track of these emails.

If I were to guess at statistics...I would say that each chunk makes up about 25% of your incoming email.  If we can find ways of processing Chunks 1-3 effectively...you will be left with only Chunk #4 to ACT on...simplifying your life greatly!

ACTION - Create a Folder/Label called "Z - News & Updates"...this is where we are going to route all these emails.  Why the Z?  So that it moves it to the bottom of your list of folders.

ACTION - Set up 5 filters for common news/updates that you receive.  For example, I have set up a filter for all my Facebook updates so that they go to my "Z - News & Updates" folder.  To do this...open up one of the emails from Facebook, and use the pull down menu on the right upper area of the mail to "Filter for messages like this".

facebook filter

This is cool...it pops up the "Filter" section of gmail and confirms that you want to filter emails from Facebook...you say, "NEXT", then it asks you what you want to do with these emails.

facebook filter 2

You want to choose "Skip the Inbox" and "Apply" the "Z - News & Updates" Label.  This will send it directly to this folder, bypassing your inbox.

I check my News & Updates folder once every day or two.  It's fun.  And my inbox receives about 25 fewer emails each day.  Try it!