July 18, 2013 | Mac Bartine

7 Ways Gmail Tabs Can Improve Your Work Life

Mac loves Gmail Tabs

In case you aren’t aware, Google has recently offered tabs to both its free and Enterprise business app Gmail users. I’ve found the Google inbox tabs option to be a perfect add-on getting more things done in my work day than just weeding through a hundred plus emails a day.

Below, I’ve outlined 7 ways that I’ve found the tabs feature to be useful, plus a few things that I think Google could still make better.

Quickly described, the Tabs option allows you to select multiple ways in which Google can automatically filter your email inbox into multiple pre-defined categories: Primary, Social, Promotions, Updates and Forums. You can use some or all of these tabs, depending on your preferences. I use all of them, because I’ve found them all to be useful.

So here are my 7 benefits for your consideration.

1. Faster Email Reviewing

It drives me nuts to open up my inbox at the start of the day and see that my previously-empty inbox from the previous work day has ballooned into dozens of new emails that I have to wade through. I’ve found that categorizing my inbox with Google’s tabs feature allows me to go through emails much more quickly, because I have a better idea of what I’m looking at before I start my review.

Also, it’s much easier to look at 8 or 10 emails at once and make quick decisions than it is 50 or 60 or more.

I’ve estimated that my email review time has been more than cut in half since I started using Gmail’s tabs.

2. Less Stress

This may not seem necessary to mention, but I can tell you: cutting my email time down from an hour or two a day to typically less than an hour has made it a lot easier for me to manage the rest of my work day. It’s STRESSFUL to open your inbox and see dozens of messages that you need to wade through!

Thank you, Google, for giving me a way of having less stress in my business life. :)

3. Focused Social Media Time

The Social tab is very good at collecting all my social media interactions into one tab. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a social-related email in another place since I started using tabs. This allows me to easily set aside time just for fostering my business-related social media relationships. I find that much easier than responding to an email, then responding to a Facebook post, then deleting some junkmail, then responding to a re-tweet, then an other email, etc.

4. Promotions Tab: Weeding Out The Crap

Who doesn’t hate junk mail? And when you’re in business (especially when much of your business is conducted online), seemingly promising resources and people can quickly turn into people trying to sell you stuff you don’t want or no longer need.

I can almost always open the Promotions tab and quickly assess that the entire lot is junk. Select all. Delete. Move on.

5. Following Blogs and Forums

I follow quite a few blogs and forums for my work, and the Forums tab works pretty well to collect this information, once again giving me a way to compartmentalize an important part of my day.

6. Updates: Bills, Receipts, and Confirmations

When I buy something online, or sign up for a newsletter, or do something else that’s going to create an on-going business interaction via email, those messages wind up in the Updates tab. I typically don’t need to look at these emails; I can just quickly view whether or not they’re relevant, select all or most of them, and archive for possible later reference.

Quick and easy.

7. Teach Tabs Tricks

Tabs wouldn’t be a great option if you couldn’t teach it how to correct bad filtering decisions. That’s one of things that does make Gmail tabs very useful. I don’t get a ton of these, but when I do, I just grab the email and drag it to the appropriate tab. Immediately afterward, I can opt to move similar emails to the selected new tab when they arrive in my inbox.

A Couple Small Gripes

In a perfect world, I could create new tabs of my own. That may well be an option, and I’m just too lazy to figure it out, but I did try for a couple minutes to see if that’s possible, and it doesn’t yet appear to be available. Of course, most people –probably me included – would just abuse this option and wind up turning his or her inbox into a junkyard of nearly-empty tabs. But I do think it could be useful, if used with a little self-control and planning.

I’d also like for Google to automatically learn from me dragging an email instead of me having to remember to tell it to do so. That’s a “first world problem” if ever I heard one, but it would still make me happy.

Gmail Tabs ScreenshotHow to Turn On Tabs

It’s very easy to turn tabs on in your Google inbox:

  1. Click the gear drop-down icon in the top-right corner of your inbox;
  2. Select “Configure inbox”; and
  3. Check the boxes to the left of the tabs you wish to use.


In Conclusion…

If you’re like me and you wind up going down the email rabbit hole for too long on a day to day basis – and if you use a Google mail system – you owe it to yourself to try it out.

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Mac Bartine

Mac Bartine

As one of VIEO Design’s four owners, Mac Bartine served as our COO and web strategist until July 2014. Today, he advises VIEO as a partner and uses his considerable skill as a digital strategist in his positions as CEO of several startups.

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