My last post, Productivity Progress and Tackling Time Management, showed how I conquered my email inbox and started using some productivity tools to help me start managing my time a little better. I’m happy to report that I’ve been able to maintain this system for just over two months now, which is HUGE for me because life has gotten absolutely insane! The spousal unit and I decided to sell the his and hers homes and purchase a new-to-us home. How exciting!
Some of you wonderful Geneatalkers inquired about my process for bypassing my inbox and using filters to help conquer my inbox. So kids, this post is for you. I’ve gone through and created some screen shots of my inbox (marked up to protect the identity of the innocent…er, guilty?) and provided some instructions on what worked for me.
Step 1: Go into your Gmail settings and create your labels. You can do this during the process of setting up your email for import but I prefer to have everything set up first. Your settings can be accessed from the Gmail inbox by clicking on the gear icon in the upper right (near) corner.
Once you get into settings click on the “Labels” menu. Find the “Labels” section and the first option will be a button that says “Create new label” which will allow you to create new labels that will appear on the left side of your inbox. If they don’t show up right away, make sure you’ve selected the “Show” option in the “Labels” menu for the label you want to show up. This is also where you can make unused labels disappear from your left side menu!
Step 2: Now that we have our labels created we’re going to set up the import from your secondary email into your primary email. This process is done in the settings menu as well. If you haven’t left the settings menu, great! If you went back to your inbox just find the gear icon again and go back into your settings menu. Once in your settings menu click on the “Accounts and Import” menu option.
From here you want to click on “Add a POP3 mail account you own” at the bottom of the “Check mail from other accounts (using POP3)” section. Then you’ll walk thru the process of adding your secondary email address.
Something to note here: the check box for “Leave a copy of retrieved message on the server.” is currently checked. That’s a default option and I received an error message that this option couldn’t be used with a Gmail account. Unchecking it will allow you to proceed setting up the import. This is also where you specify if you want to label your incoming messages. If you want the messages to bypass your primary email inbox and go into a separate label (i.e. Gmail’s version of a folder, similar to the folders in Outlook) make sure the “Label incoming messages” check box is checked and that you’ve selected the label you want to use. Here’s what my inbox looks like, make note of the labels on the left side of the screen:
The labels I added for additional email addresses are labels that I’ve added a color code to. Gmail will show me when there’s unread mail in those labels and clicking on the label will open up the appropriate label and show you the emails in that label. I’ve circled the label I set up for my secondary email address in red as an example. Remember, you may need to go into your settings to show or hide labels to make them appear or disappear from the left side of your screen.
Step 3: Don’t stop yet! You’ve gotten your import set up but there’s one more thing to do that will make your life easier! Set up your send mail as settings. Send mail as will allow you to draft, reply to or forward emails from your imported secondary email while using only your primary email folders. For example, your primary email address may be but you can send email from when you set up this option. This can be set up for multiple email addresses and you do not have to set up the import for that email to use the send mail as functionality. They operate as completely separate functions. This option is also under your “Accounts and Import” menu.
To do this you’ll click on the option to “Add another email address you own” and follow the instructions. It will require you to verify the secondary email address that you’re adding so make sure to go click on the verification email that Gmail sends you!
I did initially have an issue getting Gmail to allow the import and kept receiving a “Server denied POP3 access for the given username and password. Show error details Server returned error: [AUTH] Username and password not accepted.” but a quick search on Google turned up that this problem is typically resolved by using this unlock captcha link: http://www.google.com/accounts/DisplayUnlockCaptcha. Poof! Import problem fixed and everything now imports appropriately.
I hope these instructions are helpful to anyone who is interested. On a side note, Gmail does also offer an option to forward email from one email address to another which is another option for getting your secondary email into your primary email inbox.
And remember! Inbox zero doesn’t necessarily mean there are no emails in your inbox at all. It means you have reclaimed your email inbox. According to Merlin Mann, who coined the phrase “Inbox Zero”: “It’s about how to reclaim your email, your attention, and your life. That “zero?” It’s not how many messages are in your inbox – it’s how much of your own brain is in that inbox. Especially when you don’t want it to be. That’s it.” So don’t stress! You’ll know when you arrive at your own Inbox Zero.