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Snooze productivity in Gmail

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I’m almost constantly inbox zero. In part it’s because I’m good at organize my inbox and reply quickly (and I’m humble, to boot). But it’s also because I use Gmail’s snooze feature to keep emails out of sight and out of mind for later.

What is snoozing in Gmail?

When you snooze on Gmail, you temporarily archive a message and tell Gmail to return it to your inbox at some point. Just like when you snooze your alarm, it will leave you alone for a certain amount of time and come back later to harass you.

You can snooze email in most modern email clientsbut here’s how to do it in Gmail:

  1. From your inbox, hover over the rightmost side of the email you want to snooze and click the clock icon that appears. (If you’re already viewing the email, the clock icon will be above the subject line.)

  2. Select one of the pre-set days and times, or click Choose date & time to select another option.

  3. If you select another option, set the day and time and click Save.

The email will disappear (it actually goes to a folder called Snoozed), and then it will reappear in your inbox any day and time you choose, as if it were a newly received message.

(Note: In the mobile app, you must first select the email in the inbox, then click the three dots in the top right corner and click snooze.)

Why you should snooze your emails

The reasons for snoozing an email are very different from the reasons for snoozing your alarm clock. You don’t put off something because you don’t feel like it – you put off something because it makes more sense to do it later.

This is why you should snooze more emails.

1. It prevents things from slipping through the cracks

Not everyone likes inbox zero – I get it. (I don’t really get it. I’m just trying to be nice.) But if you inexplicably leave all your emails in your inbox, it’s 100% guaranteed that something will slip through the cracks. Snoozing emails is one way to make sure the important ones aren’t lost.

When you snooze an email, the message will appear at the top of your inbox at the selected time. It even has some extra text next to it, to remind you that you snoozed it.

So even if you have dozens or (horror!) hundreds of emails in your inbox, the message remains unburied.

2. It helps you tackle tasks at the right time

like you use your inbox as a to-do list of sorts, the snooze option becomes a reminder of sorts. Instead of the task sitting there waiting for you every time you look at your inbox, it only shows up when you need to do it.

Example: I got an email from my kid’s preschool about a bunch of forms to fill out, but I was out of town when I received it. I could have left the email in my inbox until I got home (which would stress me out endlessly) or added “Making Preschool Forms” to my to-do list (meaning I’d made my to-do list longer while I was on was on vacation) -No thank you). Instead, I snoozed it to pop up again at 8 a.m. the day I was supposed to be back from vacation. As soon as it popped up, I printed out those forms and filled them out.

It’s a bit like time lock: you leave at a certain time to finish a certain task. If you want to take it a step further, you can even block that free time in your calendar.

3. It functions as a non-priority to-do list

like you receive a newsletter that you would like to read but not now, you’d usually either leave it in your inbox to bury it slowly, or move it to another folder where you’d instantly forget about it. Instead, snoozing it for a while knowing you’re going to have a little more bandwidth — or when you’re going to do some doom scrolling anyway — will help you achieve it.

And if you’re magically finishing your to-do list for the day and looking for other things to tackle, you can always go to your snoozed folder and see if there’s anything you can look at right now.

Some email snooze tips

Before napping left and right, keep these tips in mind:

  • If someone replies to a thread, it will be unsnoozed. This can be tricky, especially if you don’t remember snoozing the message in the first place. For example, if my kid’s preschool had replied to the email with another reminder while I was still on vacation, it would pop back into my inbox and I would have to remember to snooze it again. There’s no surefire way to avoid this, but I don’t recommend snoozing anything on an active thread.

  • Make sure you’re not napping when you need to plan. Snoozing is great for tasks that come in as emails. But if all you’re doing is delaying responding to a message, try schedule a response instead of.

  • If you snooze a little more than three times, move on. If you’ve snoozed that newsletter for three weeks in a row, it’s probably time to admit you’re not going to read it. Go ahead and delete it. Or, if it’s something you really need to do, snooze out and get stared in the face every time you check your email.

Try snoozing some emails this week and see how that feels. If it doesn’t work for you, try something else: set up a quick automation to send certain types of emails to your to-do list or elsewhere.


This one article originally appeared on Zapier’s blog and is reprinted with permission.


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