How to organize and filter emails in Gmail with labels

Ever clocked out of work after answering most of your emails and returned to the office the next day with a litany of unread messages in your inbox?

We’ve all been there.

Sorting through emails can be an agonizing time suck, especially when you have to filter out spam, unimportant items, or messages that can be answered later.

You have reports to write, presentations to put together, calls to take, deadlines to beat, and meetings to attend.

Emails don’t just go away — unless you trash and delete them permanently — but you can automate the sorting process so messages are organized and prioritized instantly.

Gmail allows you to create filters that can not only delete and archive your incoming messages but also mark them as important or forward them to someone else.

Gmail filters can also automatically apply customized labels to incoming emails. These labels act as curated libraries that contain emails from specific people or have common keywords.

Though they don’t move emails from your inbox to another location, labels do flag emails and collate them as they flow into your inbox.

It’s important to point out that Gmail labels are different from folders. While folders require files to be stored and organized in one place, you can apply multiple labels to an email and search for that message under each individual label.

As an example, if you work for a large architectural firm and have clients nationwide, you can add labels to each incoming email for individual regions, states, and cities. If you want to search for an email from someone in Atlanta, you can find it in all of the labels for Southeast, Georgia, and Atlanta.

In this case, “Southeast” is your parent label — your dominant or primary label — while “Georgia” and “Atlanta” are your sublabels.

You can add an unlimited number of labels to an email, but if you delete an email, it will be erased from your inbox and every label attached to it.

If you use Gmail as part of your workflow, read on to learn how to create filters and labels in just a few quick steps. We’ll even include some handy visuals for reference.

How do you keep your emails organized in Gmail? Have you integrated labels into your workflow? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Darin is a content writer at JotForm. He is passionate about disrupting perceptions, solving problems, and helping people be more productive with the easiest online form builder. Outside of the office, he is a rush-hour straphanger, adventure seeker, coffee drinker, and frequent traveler. You can contact Darin through his contact form.

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