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4 Smart Gmail Filters That Help You Deal with Too Much Email

Decluttering and organizing your Gmail inbox is great, but it requires your input, and therefore your time and attention. When you've got little of either to spare, it's time to ask yourself the tough questions. Which tasks can you delegate to Gmail? How do you keep your inbox from getting out of control?

The email strategy that we'll explore today involves creating four basic types of filters in Gmail. This way, you can overlook the noise most of the time and then batch-process them with ease, say, once every couple of days.

How to Create a Gmail Filter

By creating an email filter, you're establishing a set of rules that will tell your inbox how it should process a certain email.

4 Smart Gmail Filters That Help You Deal with Too Much Email

To create a filter in Gmail, click on the gear icon next to your profile picture. Hit See All Settings to be taken to your Gmail account settings. Select the Filters and Blocked Addresses tab.

4 Smart Gmail Filters That Help You Deal with Too Much Email

Next, click on Create a New Filter to create a new filter. In the Create a New Filter panel, you'll need to specify at least one criterion—a sender's email address, a subject line, or a keyword—to filter emails. Once you do that, click Create Filter at the bottom right.

4 Smart Gmail Filters That Help You Deal with Too Much Email

This takes you to the next panel. Here, you can specify what you want Gmail to do with the emails that match your search criteria. You can choose to archive them, mark them as read, delete them, mark them as important, or any of the other options shown here.

Check all of the boxes that apply and click the Create Filter button. In your Inbox, you can drag and drop emails between the tabs and set up customized filters for incoming messages. Now, onto the four filters we promised would help you manage email better.

Gmail Smart Filter to Redirect Emails from All Domains But One

If the most important work emails you receive only ever come from one or two domains, you can create a filter that keeps only those emails in your inbox and pushes the rest into a separate folder.

To exclude emails from a particular domain, in the From/To field, you'll need syntax that looks like this: -*@MakeUseOf.Com. The minus (-) sign excludes the email address that comes after it. In this case, that happens to be any email address from the domain MakeUseOf.Com, as signified by *@MakeUseOf.Com, where * is a wildcard character.

4 Smart Gmail Filters That Help You Deal with Too Much Email

One example is a filter that forces email to skip the inbox and be tagged with the label Miscellaneous label. Then, when you open your inbox, there won't be any emails from domains outside of your filter.

Gmail Smart Filter to Direct To-Do Emails to an Action Folder

If you get far too many emails, it's easy to lose track of those that you actually need to take action on. To prevent this from happening, filter out to-do emails based on the sender, subject, or keywords and direct those emails to a separate folder.

One example of a filter like this, is you could set all of your work emails to go to a folder called work. This would not only help to declutter your inbox from work emails, but also allow you to find those emails more easily when you need to.

Gmail Smart Filter To Auto-Delete Emails

Preventing email from reaching your inbox to begin with is much better than dealing with it once it's already arrived. We recommend making liberal use of Gmail's Block and Unsubscribe buttons. You could even use a smart unsubscribe tool if you want.

What's the best way to deal with emails from mailing lists that don't honor unsubscribe requests, or from people that you can't block at all? There is a way out: you can create a filter to identify emails based on the sender's email address and instruct Gmail to delete those emails automatically.

If you don't like deleting emails without taking a look at them, choose the Skip the Inbox (Archive it) option to archive the emails. Use the Apply the Label option if you want them all in one place.

To Mark All Emails as Read

Achieving Inbox Zero is not as important as resisting the urge to check your email every few minutes. The latter becomes easier when there are zero unread emails sitting in your inbox every time you open it. You can make this happen by creating a filter that marks all incoming email as read automatically.

While adding the filter, first use your email address in the To field to filter in all emails sent to it. Then, use the Mark as Read checkbox to mark every email as read as soon as it arrives. If you use the same Gmail account for managing email from other accounts, you'll need to create similar filters for those other email addresses as well.

With this strategy, you'll soon lose your eagerness to check your inbox for new mail. Basically, this is the most useful Gmail filter ever.

Escape the Cycle: Filter Email on Gmail Like the Pros

A couple of other strategies that we recommend: move newsletters that you like to your feed reader, hide all labels from the sidebar (Aside from your Inbox!) by clicking on the arrow next to them, and cut back on personal email, if at all possible.

The key is to move all but the most crucial communication from your inbox to platforms that you're either not as addicted to or can afford to ignore. If you use email for sharing documents, switch to sharing files and folders via Google Drive or any other cloud storage/sharing service.

Giving up email is next to impossible. With the right email filters in place, you'll at least have a little less noise to deal with. And that means more time for other things in your life.