There are lots of things that can stress you out at work, but a cluttered inbox has to be near the top. It's overwhelming to look at, it leads to disorganization, and you might even miss important messages (for instance ... did you hear Janelle Monáe is performing at INBOUND this year?)

According to a Guardian article on a study from Loughborough University, employee "stress levels, analysed by salivasamples, as well as heart rate and blood pressure monitors over a 24-hour period, peaked at points in the day when people's inboxes were fullest."Download our free email productivity guide here for even more time-saving  email management tips. 

Everyone's got their own tricks for diffusing this stress. One trick that's worked like a charm for me is to set up Gmail's automatic filtering, so those annoying social network notifications automatically skip my inbox and land in a dedicated folder. Landing page submissions that need to get monitored every month or so? Those go in another folder. By weeding out emails like that, I can focus on the conversations that matter. 

Want to start clearing out the fluff in your inbox? Here's how you can set up automatic filters in Gmail. 

1) In Gmail, put the keyword or email address you'd like to filter out in your search bar up top. Click enter.


2) You might already have emails that fit in this cateogry. Regardless, click the little grey triangle in the search box.


3) A drop down will appear. If you'd like to refine your filtering here even further, you can do so. Once you've selected what content you want to filter, click "Create filter with this search." 


4) Now you decide what you want this filter to do. Then, click "Apply Label."

For example, if you'd like to get emails with the given search criteria to not pop up in your inbox, but have it be in an easy-to-access place, select "Skip the Inbox (Archive it)" and then "Apply Label."


5) Next, click the drop-down under "Apply Label," and either select a label you already have or click "New label...". After you've selected or created the label you want, if you'd like to include previous emails in this thread, you can check "apply filter to matching conversations." Then, click "Create filter."


6) Voila! Then, you'll get a folder in your sidebar with all of the previous conversations automatically routed in there. Then, you can check it at your convenience. 


What other tricks do you have for getting your email organized?

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Originally published Jul 15, 2014 12:00:00 PM, updated June 09 2021


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