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Gmail Hacks for Ultimate Teacher Efficiency

Jayne Miller wrote this on Nov 9, 2015

 

We know that lots of our users rely on Gmail to organize their day. It’s their main method of communication and their go-to project management tool. That’s why we thought we’d share a few hacks for getting the most out of our fave email client.

Canned Responses

If you find yourself writing a lot of “Thanks, sounds great” or “Yes, will do” responses to emails, you might benefit from setting up canned responses. This means you’ll be able to reply with any of your standbys with a click instead of typing it all out. I use this one a lot for “Thank you” and “Great, I’ll take a look” responses. 

To do this, click the gear icon in Gmail and go to “settings.” Select the “labs” section of settings scroll to "canned responses."

Enable this option and save. When you open a fresh email, the “more options” arrow next to the “discard draft” button now has a “canned response” option. And just like you imagined, the “new canned response” option allows you to type out a few of your most-used email-isms. 

Add an Email Item to Your To-Do List

For many workflows, emails are a main source of to-dos. When you get an email that requires action, there is indeed a way to quickly convert the email into a task within your Gmail tasks.

First - if you haven’t used Google tasks - they exist. They’re attached to your Google calendar; you can turn your to-do list on and off like you would any calendar under your “my calendar” options.

To add something from email to your list, navigate to the menu above your emails in the reading view and select “more.” You’ll see an option to “add to tasks.” Once clicked, you should get a pop-up window of your to-do list. A new task will have been created based on the subject of the email you’ve just added. You can edit all the details as you see fit.

The added task will also have a link back to the email in question so you can double check that you’ve dotted your i’s and crossed your t’s.

Set Up Your Undo Send Option

Gmail recently added the option to recall a sent message, but a user may only do so if they have the feature enabled. Even if you don’t think you’ll ever need to recall a sent message, cover your bases and enable this feature. (Right now! Seriously! Do it!)

You’ll head to your settings by clicking the gear icon. Next, you’ll select “labs” and scroll to the “undo send” option. Check the box to enable and save your changes.

You’re not done yet. Go back to your settings and click on the “general” tab (it’s the first one). You should now have an “undo send” option. Enable it and select the amount of time you have to cancel; you have up to 30 seconds to undo a send. Once you save, you’ll get a sweet little “undo” option at the top of your screen after you send something.

Advanced Search

How much time do you spend looking for information in old emails? Let’s cut that time down.

To narrow your search, you might want to try using advanced search commands. These operators will help you filter by the sender of a message, to whom you sent something, or labels associated with the email. Similarly, select the drop-down arrow in the far right of your search bar in Gmail.

This view will give you lots of options for filtering by date range, subject, sender, and lots of other variables.

One Step Further: Find an Attachment

I’m singling this one out because I use it a lot. You can save yourself quite a bit of effort by learning the  "has:attachment" command. Searching with this operator - or selecting the “has attachment” checkbox in your advanced search dropdown menu - will only yield results with an attachment.

Optimize Your Tabs for Uber Organization

Remember when Gmail added those tabs to your inbox so you could filter messages into a “primary," "social," or "promotions" space? Well, those tabs aren’t set in stone.

 

If you select that gear icon and click "configure inbox” you’ll be prompted to select what tabs you want to see. “Updates” and “forums” are also options. You can also navigate to this area by clicking the small plus sign next to your tabs.

Build an Email Workflow

This isn’t a hack as much as it is a must-do for conquering any inbox. Ask yourself how you want to use email. How does this tool fit into your workflow? Is this this primarily an archive of all your communication, or does it serve more as a project management resource?

For example, I like to use my email as a giant to-do list. Messages that are not archived or labeled/put into a folder are still active. This means there is a task I have yet to complete, something to read, or someone to respond to before I can move that message. This fits well with my workflow and encourages me to keep my inbox tidy. I'm all about it.

What good tips did we miss? Tell us in the comments.

Getting Googly With It

Topics: Google Tips, EdTechUpdate