How to Hack Your Gmail Productivity and Boost Email Performance : Under30CEO How to Hack Your Gmail Productivity and Boost Email Performance : Under30CEO
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How to Be a Gmail Ninja: Boost Your Productivity and Email Performance

| August 5, 2014 | 12 Comments

gmail ninja

Hey Under30CEO,

Let’s face it.  Email plagues our lives.

I’m on a mission to get as much as possible out of every hour of work, so I can do things I enjoy more like surfing and traveling.

Yes, I’ve always been a fan of The Four Hour Work Week but when my friend Scott Britton told me about a McKinsey study that found 28% of people’s working hours are spent reading and responding to email, I finally decided to get serious about this addiction.

Luckily for you, I jumped head first into his course The Ultimate Gmail Productivity System for Business and I’m going to tell you the biggest takeaways.

As you guys who are on the Under30CEO Insiders list know, I take a lot of time answering readers questions and building relationships within our tribe.  I get a few hundred responses to my Tuesday emails and as you can imagine, it’s pretty overwhelming….

As you can see above, with 2,300 unread emails (not including the 8,316 unread newsletters folder) I’m closer to giving up than anything… AND that doesn’t count my secret inbox that much fewer people know about…

I’ve tried everything from answering every email ASAP to keeping my inbox at zero, to only answering critical ones and starring the rest, to ignoring the problem and almost giving up altogether.

As Scott says, I need to stop operating at a sub-optimal output level.  Checking email 6-20x per day certainly qualifies as sub-optimal…

How to start k*cking ass at email…

Have a solid foundation to work with

1) You should only be using Gmail.  It’s the best and this is what this course is for.

2) The Chrome Browser is a Google Product and it works best with Gmail.  It’s faster.

Just like humans only use a very small percentage of our brains… It turns out that the average Gmail user only uses a very small percentage of its functionality.  Google Labs is genius and you should know which features to turn on.

Top apps, plugins, and tricks

4) Inbox Pause only have your emails delivered when you want them in your inbox so you aren’t distracted or tempted to check them when you don’t want to.

5) Unroll.mescans your inbox for every mailing list you are on and lets you opt out of those that are not adding value.

6) Gmail Aliasessubscribe to email lists with your gmail with +1 at the end ie: (wilson.matt.wilson+1@gmail) and have these filtered to a special folder every single time!

7) gives you a special email address to cc so this email will come back to the top of your inbox if you need to followup with someone by a certain date.

8) Are you using your bookmarks bar appropriately?  You should have links in your bookmarks bar to Compose, Google Calendar, Google Drive, and specific docs you go to frequently without going to your inbox (this changed my life!!)

Best Practices: How to Respond

9)  As *soon* as you see the email you need to take action on it.  Scott now has me on his system: The 4 D’s, Delete, Do, Defer, Delegate.

10) One of the biggest steps you can take is to be honest.  *SUPER HONEST*.  Not just with people you can’t work with, or can’t “jump on a quick call with” but most importantly with yourself.  Ask yourself: is this email adding value to my life?

11) Batch processing.  This is old school Tim Ferriss stuff.  Remember: “Email is everyone else’s agenda for you”.  Do your action items first, then check email, but only 2-3x per day.

12) Always be pruning.  “Is this email going to add value to my life?”  Otherwise, unsubscribe, or filter it *immediately*!  

The Gmail Productivity System Formula: The 4 areas of focus to master

13) Decreasing frequency less back and forth, chit chat, and thank you for thanking me.

14) Decreasing volumeless volume of emails all together.  Stop tempting people to email you again.  

15) Improving quality of dialogue Be direct when setting up dates and times for calls and meetings. Ask yourself– is this email effectively achieving its purpose?

16) Increase speed–eliminate repetition, get faster within the software, and spend time doing things you love!

If you are still hungry for more Gmail hacks, and the details on these strategies and a ton more, here’s an EXCLUSIVE deal for Under30CEO Readers:

Scott’s course The Ultimate Productivity System for Business has been taught to 6.2K students on Udemy.  It’s really nicely broken down into very short, easily digestible lectures, and best of all you can learn his 20 strategies in only three hours.

I did it on a Sunday morning and instantly my productivity was hacked.  Amazing.

The cool thing is that since Scott and I are buddies from the startup scene in New York, he has given Under30CEO readers 50% off the course.

Normally the course is $59 but for *this week only* with code Under30CEO it’s $29.  Click here for all the tips and tricks at 50% off.

Homework: Comment below for a chance to win $25 on Udemy!  What Gmail strategies do you use?  What’s your best email productivity hack?

Matt Wilson is co-founder of Under30CEO and Adventurer in Residence at the travel company Under30Experiences.

About the Author: Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson is co-founder of Under30CEO. After two years traveling and working from his laptop, Matt's official title became Adventurer in Residence, heading up Under30Media's travel company Under30Experiences. If Matt is around he will be easy to spot as his long luxurious hair is generally flowing freely in the breeze.

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  • Cara Murphy

    Email will seriously be the bane of my existence- it never ends!!! I had no idea gmail had so many apps and functions! Checking them out now.

  • Liz Flores

    Gmail aliases where has that been all my life!? Excellent tips Matt! One thing that I always do (or try) is put things in their folders right away. Keep organized! The inbox should only be emails that I have not read and need to read. Also, I subscribe to ALOT of blogs and sometimes that is the bulk of my inbox. Having a folder designated for “Thing to Read” makes all the difference.

  • MattWilsontv

    Hey Liz, thanks for the tips. Do you subscribe to get every blog post sent to your inbox or do you just sign up to the mailing lists on most sites that send you something probably 1-4x per month?

    I know we have a lot of Under30CEO readers who actually subscribe via our RSS feed to their inboxes, but I’ve never done it before (too much clutter for me)

  • MattWilsontv

    Haha thanks Cara. I always catch you around 5 or 6am in your inbox, you are always the first to reply from the team. It’s always appreciated, but make sure you get *your* action items done first… yes, even before mine!

  • Mike Malloy

    “Undo Send” is my favorite google lab which gives you 10 seconds to “undo” sending an email. I use it at least 5 times a day when I proofread what I just sent and realized I forgot something important or the attachment.

    I’m a big fan of Breevy (PC) and TextExpander (Mac) for saving words/links/entire email messages that I can paste automatically with a keyboard shortcut. This is the most useful when sending a batch of sales email to large groups, but doing it individually to each person to get a better response. Totally worth the $35 and saved me days of my life already.

    I also crush gmail labels with color codes for different projects or organizations. These color codes align with my google calendar for scheduling meetings and matching them to the email threads. Blue=Waveborn, Yellow=ultimate, Red=coworking, Purple=fun, Green=investors, etc.

    Lastly, I hate long email threads just to schedule a phone meeting. I am very direct in scheduling and will propose two times that work for MY schedule and let the other person pick. I hate when people say “are you free to chat sometime next week?” instead I say “are you available at 1pm or 4pm on Monday for a 15 minute call?” Much more effective and saves time scheduling.

    Thanks for sharing your tips!

  • MattWilsontv

    Hey Mike– yup, undo send is pretty good, but you better be quick to click the button before those 10 seconds are up, haha.

    I haven’t heard of TextExpander but through our CRM (Streak) we use Snippets which we can reply to leads with without typing out really big long email messages to them. I also used canned responses a lot for a while which were very useful for a while.

    And I 100% agree on the schedule, I do the exact same thing, and include my skype or phone number so we don’t have to go back and forth about “what number should I reach you”, or “should I call you, or you call me?” That’s the worst. Thanks for the insights Mike, much appreciated.

  • Matt Schmidt

    Great advice. Decreasing frequency and increasing speed I think are key. I remember when Instant Messaging was a big thing and people were addicted to this. It has transcended to email.Gmail is also great with the functionality of other tools like Google Drive.

  • MattWilsontv

    Hey Matt, yup, I keep my gchat, skype, and facebook chat off unless I need to contact someone. The nice thing is with the “invisible” function on skype / gchat you can always let the people who you want to contact you know that you are there, just not with a little green light next to you.

    One thing I struggle with is Linkedin and Facebook messages. They are like my 4th tier inboxes and I usually just see if it’s anyone urgent, and get around to them every week or two and often times miss opportunities…. anyone have a solution for managing these?

  • curious user

    On the fence, Gmail or Outlook? have used both & other web based mail tools…. some say google taking too many ‘liberties’ with private info. just wondering what others think.

  • MattWilsontv

    There isn’t much in my inbox that I don’t mind sharing with Google. Outlook is pretty clunky and old fashioned if you ask me, I haven’t used it since 2007.

    Plus our CRM Streak and tools like Rapporative sync with Gmail. I mean, read the capabilities above, I think it’d be crazy not to be a Gmail user at this point.

  • Sarah

    I love my colored stared for importance of E-mails and also the task list, I wish we could implement is greater.

  • MattWilsontv

    Hey Sarah, thanks for this. Is there any color coding system that you use? Would be helpful to share. Thanks!