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IMPORTANT: If you use gmail (and if you don’t, your clients DO)

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Gmail is rolling out a new feature that may make it less likely that you will see my emails. If you have an email list for your clients and prospects, they will be less likely to see YOUR emails.

The new feature categorizes incoming emails into “Primary,” “Social,” or “Promotions” tabs. Because I use a commercial autoresponder to deliver my emails, they will automatically be categorized as “Promotions” and lumped together with other “commercial” emails, including advertising.

You know, the stuff you don’t read.

That means my emails won’t go into your inbox and you may never see them. Your clients won’t be see YOUR emails.

This can be avoided by adjusting your settings, once the new feature is active.

Simply find one of my emails in “Promotions” and drag it into “Primary”.

A pop-up will appear and ask you if you want to do this for all future messages. Click “Yes”.

That’s it. Now, my emails will appear in your inbox.

If you want to completely remove these new tabs, go to the Settings box in the upper right hand corner of your inbox and select “Settings.” Click on the “Inbox” tab and unselect all categories but “Primary” (remember to save your changes).

That’s what I’ve done for my account. Don’t like all those tabs crowding my space. Seems like more work for me, not less.

Anyway, once you’ve done this, make sure you notify your lists to do the same. Many people use Gmail. As much as 50% of your list, by some estimates. If they don’t make this change, they won’t see your emails, and that’s not good for them or you.

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Evernote and my plan for achieving “Inbox Zero”

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I have tens of thousands of emails in my Gmail inbox. At last count, 16, 503 are unread. I have over 50 labels set up. I don’t use any of them. It’s a mess

When I first learned about Inbox Zero I swooned. The idea is intoxicating. When your inbox is empty, you are no longer overwhelmed by email. You are in control. You enjoy a Zen-like feeling of tranquility. You process your email inbox once or twice a day, keeping it at zero. You have a “mind like water”.

I loved the idea, but the thought of going through tens of thousands of emails was about as appealing as a state bar complaint.

Email has long been the final frontier in my productivity makeover. I’ve resisted changing for a long time. But now, I have a plan.

My plan involves my favorite productivity tool, Evernote, which I use for collecting information and managing my projects and tasks. I use it all day long, in every part of my work flow, as my tool for Getting Things Done. Read my previous posts on how I use Evernote for getting things done.

Right now, when I get an email that requires action of any kind (a reply, a call, review, read, etc.) or that is related to a project I’m working on, or is something I want to keep for reference purposes (receipts, newsletter ideas, research, documents, etc.), or something I am waiting for, I forward that email to Evernote. I then tag it and incorporate it into my gtd system.

If an email requires a reply that will take no more than two minutes, I do it. I may also send a bcc to Evernote.

Sometimes, I get emails requiring action that I don’t send to Evernote. An example is an email I got recently from someone I hadn’t spoken to in a long time. I didn’t want to dash off a quick reply, I wanted to give it some thought. In this case, I added a @Reply label and archived the email in Gmail. When I’m ready to reply, the label will help  me find it.

Yes, I could also send these to Evernote, but I like having the orignial email connected to my reply. And, if I do send it to Evernote, I want to do so after I’ve replied, so I have both the original email and my reply in one Evernote note.

So, here’s my plan for achieving email bliss using Evernote and Gmail:

First, when I have some quiet time, (this will probably require several sessions), I will go through my Gmail inbox, scanning (not reading) and quickly doing the following:

  1. Unsubscribing from newsletters I don’t read.
  2. Adding @Reply label to anything I need to reply to that will take more than two minutes but does not need to be tracked.
  3. Sending Action and Reference items to Evernote.
  4. Trashing or archiving everything else.

Once my email inbox is empty, as new emails come in, I will review and process them, as follows.

  • If it requires a response or action that will take two minutes or less, I will do it, then Archive it; if I want to, I can also send a bcc to my Evernote account.
  • If it will take more than two minutes but I don’t need to keep notes, add it to a project, or track it, I will label it @Reply and do it as soon as possible.
  • If I’m waiting for a reply or for something to occur, I will send it to Evernote (and add a @Waiting tag).
  • If it’s something I want to keep for reference, an important email, an exemple of a good sales letter, a receipt, or something I want to read later, I will send it to Evernote.
  • All other emails will go into Archive or get trashed. At day’s end, I will again have an empty Inbox and an empty mind.

The premise behind all of this is to identify emails that need action. That’s key. Everything else is reference and can be found through search.

Note, I will use just one label in Gmail, @Reply. I am open to adding others down the road, but only if they truly serve me. For example, I may find it easier to label emails @Read/Review in Gmail, rather than sending them to Evernote for that purpose. I may also add labels for specific projects, or use them temporarily (e.g., for promotions). But for now, one label will do.

Wish me luck. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Have you achieved “Inbox Zero”? What do you think of my plan?

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