Monday, December 17, 2012

5 Means of Handling Gmail Effeciently

Like many of us, I sometimes have a foreboding dread about opening my Gmail and being inundated with messages, both relevant and irrelevant to my work.  For some, this probably prolongs opening it and further increasing the amount of potential emails in their inbox.  

However, there are ways to mitigate email in efficient ways to save you time and the dread of opening an over-cluttered email box.  This post examines how to get your email on mobile devices, how to forward your email, how to filter and organize your email, and finally, how to more quickly respond to certain perfunctory communications.

1.  Email on Mobile Devices.  
Faculty and staff are often interested in getting their school email on mobile devices, particularly their phones.  This allows them to deal with the emails in smaller batches (a few at a time rather than scores).  If you have a mobile device that is Internet enabled and would like to receive your email on it, the best place to go to is Pipeline.  In Pipeline, one of the tabs is specifically dedicated to Gmail explaining a variety of great tools and information (The "Gmail Is Here" tab).  Specifically, the tab contains step-by-step instructions on how to program your smartphones to receive email. 
2.  Forwarding Gmail
Some folks don't necessarily want to deal with several different email streams into their mobile devices.  Instead, they would just prefer their email forwarded to their personal email.  The advantage to this is that at least the person knows what's in the work email box, but does not feel obligated (real or imagined) to respond right at the moment he or she receives a work-related email.  This works even better when you create filters to identify the email (see below).    

You can get the step-by-step Google guide to forwarding your NSCC Gmail account here or you can also check out this video that shows how. 

3.  Labelling Email
A great method that I use to keep my email organized is labelling.   Labels are akin to folders in other email systems.  Email can be labelled to help you quickly determine where to put that email.  For instance, I have all the newsletters, blog updates, etc that come in, labelled as "News."  I'll create folders for different projects or types of correspondence (class related, order related, etc).  As email come in, I can place it in the appropriate folder so that when I'm ready to look at that subject matter, all the emails are there waiting for me.  But what's great about Gmail is that you can create filters to automatically label certain emails (from specific addresses, emails containing certain words, or other specific attributes).  

You can get the step-by-step Google guide to labelling your NSCC Gmail account here or you can also check out this video that shows how.  

4.  Using Filters.
Filtering your email is a great way to save time and deal with only the most pressing emails as well as to organize everything coming into your inbox.  This is a great way to either see your inbox highly organized or only filled with certain types of email.  Maybe you serve on a committee; you can have any email from the people on that committee or any email containing the specific name of the committee (e.g. "Student Life Committee") be automatically tagged with a specific designation or moved out of your inbox and into label (that is, folder).  Maybe you tell your students to always include the course title when emailing you and use that as a basis to filter those emails into a Student folderThis is a highly versatile tool for keeping that inbox from overloading you. 

You can get the step-by-step Google guide to filters for your NSCC Gmail account here or you can also check out this video that shows how. 

5.  Canned Responses
Are there certain emails that you grow tired writing (and writing again and again)?  There's a tool for that within Gmail.  Faculty can create canned responses that they can quickly send off with just a few clicks.  A good example for this is if you are taking submissions from students and want to confirm without writing the same email time and again, you can send a canned response already on hand and save yourself substantive time.  It's useful to look past your older sent emails and see what types of emails have you had to send regularly and then script those canned responses, ready to go whenever needed. 

To learn how to activate the Canned Responses in Gmail and then how to create them, check out this video.  

How do you manage your email in a way that doesn't overwhelm you?