Gmail – 2 Tools for Finding Time

Posted on February 3, 2014, under Time and Technology.

Gmail Smart LabelsGmail, as you no doubt know, is a very widely used e-mail platform.  One of its big pluses is just that – it’s everywhere!

And whether you’re on your PC in your office, your laptop on vacation, or your iPhone or Android on a plane, your Gmail account is accessible. 

Perhaps because it is so widely-used, there was quite a bit of controversy when Gmail changed its inbox.  And, indeed, like Facebook, Gmail has certainly been known to tweak users by making changes that have significant (and perhaps unintended) consequences.

The tools I’d like to highlight today don’t belong in that category, and I think you may find them useful and time-saving.  (And the good news is, you get to choose whether you use them or not – they aren’t changes to the platform itself.)

Gmail Tool #1

The first item I’d like to mention is an upgrade to one of the labs, which has added more Smart Labels to those already-used in Gmail.  If you activate this Lab, your e-mails will be automatically categorized and labeled as purchases, travel, and finance.  This is in addition to the labels already (notoriously) in place: social, promotions, updates/notifications, and forums.

A key point to keep in mind is that these labels only affect where e-mails are automatically displayed.  Your e-mails all still reside in your “All Mail” box and in any sub-boxes that you use.  And you can still create your own labels and filters for storing your mail.

For example, my VA has created a filter and mailbox for storing all of our new sign-ups for The Finding Time Success Kit.  The automated e-mails that we receive notifying us of new sign-ups go right to that box rather than to our in-box.  And, since those e-mails require no action, it’s a HUGE time-saver to sequester them in that way. (Plus, we have them for future reference, if needed.)

Of course, another consideration with all of these ‘smart’ tools that Gmail is creating is the whole matter of privacy.  Clearly, if Google is able to categorize our e-mail, they have access to it.  This is an issue that is being widely debated, and it’s certainly one that, to my mind, is worthy of concern.  But for now, we’re just looking at how these Smart Labels function, so we’ll set aside the larger questions that they raise!

A final point about these new smart labels:  You CAN turn them on and off. To do so, just open up your Gmail settings and click either the entire Smart Labels Lab (turning it on or off) or click individual Labels to either hid or show them.  This is under Labels in your general settings.  And as noted before, turning Smart Labels on or off won’t actually remove any e-mails from your system – it will simply affect how they are displayed.

Gmail Tool #2

This is a Lab about which I suspect there is NO debate!  It’s called Undo Send and that’s exactly what it does – enable you to un-send that e-mail that you sent too hastily.

After you hit the send button, you’ll have @ a 10-second window of time in which you can STOP your e-mail from going out.

You set this up in your Gmail by opening your settings, going to Labs, and clicking the button to enable this tool.  While you may have questions about the new Smart Labels, I think that having the capacity to un-send an e-mail is something that we’ve all wanted from time-to-time.

And speaking of time … here’s to your time success!

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