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I have many unread and read emails on Gmail account; It is creating problems day by day as I only check emails on alternate days.

What are ways to cut down this and so that I can focus on the email that I need to reply to or are related to work. I am using IMAP and other sorting or filtering methods, but it still create a mess for me. Perhaps some sort of folder structure that would help?

I want to be able to access important emails faster and have unwanted emails deleted.

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closed as not constructive by Oliver Salzburg, Nifle, soandos, Sathya Mar 6 '12 at 15:51

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Here are a few suggestions based on one key premise - the inbox shouldn't be storage, it should be an inbox - where emails come in and you are able to quickly deal with them or dispatch them to some other mechanism where they will be dealth with, but most importantly they are removed from the inbox fairly quickly.

If you are using IMAP to access your gmail you won't be able to use some of these. If you are serious about keeping email organized and manageable, I have yet to find an IMAP client that can keep up with the abilities of the web interface.

Filter aggresively.

Start using filters to unclutter the inbox. For example, if you receive recurring bill reminders or payment confirmations from your utility, internet provider, etc., create filters for these. There is no need for these to be in your inbox - once they are filtered and labeled, you will always know where they are when you need them.

Enable priority inbox.

Stratifies your inbox and highlights the most important emails first.

Consider GTD methodology.

The way this works for me is when I check email (I don't "get" emails, I check email, i.e. don't have it always on which is a major distraction), I either deal with an email right away (if it takes less than X minutes, where X should be 5 or less), or it goes on a list/calendar to be dealt with later. The key is to archive the email regardless of what you do. Why? Because you've either taken care of it or its somewhere else where it will be taken care of; it no longer needs to sit in your inbox.

Enable Send and Archive.

This makes #3 easier where dealing with an email involves replying. Adds a button that both sends and archives the email, making it that much easier.

Check out Boomerang for Gmail.

I don't use many gmail extensions/plugins, but this is one. In essence it handles archiving and then unarchiving an email with very slick options for scheduling. Why is this useful? Sometimes I really just want an email to be gone (clean inbox), but don't have the mental energy or time to either deal with it or move it to a list/calendar. This can also be useful to unarchive sent emails, particularly for people who you know will let emails fall through the cracks. Emails that are "boomeranged" end up in your inbox again, when you specificy, marked as unread.

I'll update this as I think of some more tools/tricks I use.

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You can manage this directly from gmail. Email is great, except when there’s too much of it. "Gmail has "Priority Inbox" which automatically identifies your important email and separates it out from everything else, so you can focus on what really matters."

Priority Inbox can help save you time if you’re overwhelmed with the amount of email you get. It attempts to automatically identify your important incoming messages and separates them out from everything else. Gmail uses a variety of signals to prioritize your incoming messages, including who you’ve emailed and chatted with most and which keywords appear frequently in the messages you opened recently.

When you click the Priority Inbox navigation link on the left-hand side of your mail, you’ll see messages grouped in three sections: Important and unread, Starred, and Everything else.

If Priority Inbox mistakes an email as important or doesn’t flag one that’s important to you, you can teach it to make better selections. Just select the message in question, and click the “mark as important” or “mark as not important” button; they’re the buttons with plus and minus icons just to the left of the Move to and Labels drop-down menus.

When you mark a message as not important, it will move out of the Important section. Over time Priority Inbox will learn what’s important to you and incorporate the feedback you give via these buttons.

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