Man, I don’t like dealing with email. And man, do I get a lot of it. And man, oh man, it gets worse the longer I’m off it.
If you’re in a similar situation, may I suggest you follow my morning Gmail routine?
Its main purpose is to separate the wheat from the chaff, respond quickly to messages that need confirmation, and then organize the messages that need a little extra attention into a manageable list — in that order.
Oh, and the name of the game here is speed. I don’t want to be in my inbox any longer than necessary, so this only takes about five minutes per 100 messages to be processed. Let’s go!
The only three keyboard shortcuts you really need
I won’t flood you with an endless list of keyboard shortcuts to remember, but if that’s what you want, here’s a great one. However, I will tell you about three very important ones that will speed up your workflow.
To get started, you need to make two quick settings tweaks. Click the gear icon in the top right corner and then click the “View all settings” button.
On the General tab, make sure the keyboard shortcuts are enabled about two-thirds of the way down. Then, on the Advanced tab, enable the Auto Continue feature.
Now, back in your inbox, open your most recent message and decide what to do with it. To keep a clean inbox, press the E key to archive the current message.
You should then be automatically sent to the next message in the list thanks to the Auto Continue feature.
This is where it really gets fun. To move back and forth through messages, use the J and K keys to jump from older to newer, respectively. Archive the things you don’t want, read, answer or forward the things you do want.
You can press Shift + ? at any time. to see a full list of keyboard shortcuts. But first, get to know J, K, and E.
Create canned responses to type a lot less
Look, there are only so many ways you can politely reply with “Got it” to someone’s email.
I prefer the following formula: thank you, empty offer to help, thank you again.
Okay sounds good. Thanks for the message. Let me know if you need anything from my side.
Typing that every time I reply to an email is a terrible waste of time. I should just be a jerk and say, “I get it,” and move on.
But that goes against my mild-mannered Midwestern sensibilities, which is why I love Gmail’s Templates feature.
You’ll need to enable it in the Advanced section of the settings menu first, but once you’ve done that, compose a message and then click the three little dots in the lower right corner.
There, choose Templates > Save Draft As Template and give it a name. Then go ahead, click on the three buttons, then Templates and select your template to insert it as a pre-written answer.
This is the best and fastest way I’ve found to politely acknowledge an email until Google finally implements it my aging finger gun idea.
Turn emails into tasks to deal with later
Okay, so now we’ve cleared the emails we don’t want, we’ve responded quickly to the emails we needed to confirm, and now it’s time to deal with the emails that need to be dealt with.
My advice: treat them whenever you want, but turn them into tasks first. If it feels good to reply to an email and get it out of your inbox, you’ll love checking it off a to-do list, too.
To turn a message into a task, click the circle checkmark-plus icon in the menu at the top of the message. This will add it to your to-do list and open the said list in a sidebar. You can also press Shift + T instead if you are now addicted to keyboard shortcuts.
Add all the posts you need to cover, and you’ll eventually find a nice, tidy list full of direct links to the posts so you can tackle them later.
You can access your to-do list in the future by clicking the blue circle icon in the right sidebar of Gmail.