Monday, December 10, 2012

Label, Archive, or Trash? Proper Treatment of Your Email

Following the transition to Gmail, some people have asked this question related to read email:

"Should I label my email?  Archive it?  Or trash it?"

The answer is pretty straight forward, but it requires an understanding of what each of those options means.  Click here to see a graphic representation of these options:

Inbox: Your Inbox is the place where new mail comes.  In the world of Google, an Inbox is really only intended for unread mail, or mail that is seeking a short-term response. The goal for maintaining an efficient inbox is to get mail out of your Inbox as soon as possible.

Labels:  In short, labels are LIKE folders.  They offer a way to quickly organize and categorize messages.  The beauty of labels, UNLIKE folders, is that you can place several labels on an email message.  You can label a message, and allow that message to stay in your Inbox, put it in a unique "folder," or archive it.  They are a pretty flexible tool.

Archive:  Archiving represents all of the mail that has come into your mail account which you have not trashed.  Gmail gives users lots of storage space, so fear over using up storage space is generally unfounded.  Instead, focus on the value of having almost all mail only a quality search away!  Think of the archive feature like a pile of physical mail that you just do not want to throw away, but have no use for today.  Archiving gets the mail out of your Inbox (where you work and communicate daily), but maintains in the case that you'll need those messages in the future.

Trash:  In Gmail, Trash is truly trash.  When you trash an item, it will be deleted within 30 days.  Once it is trashed, it is gone "forever."  Understand that the district does need to archive mail for an extended period of time by law, but this archive is not generally searchable by the average user.  Only trash mail you do not want or need again!  If there is a chance you'll need it again, Archive it.

Some simple answers to the question:
  • If you need to do something with the email:  Keep it in your Inbox and/or Label it.
  • If the mail is a part of a larger topic you need to keep track of:  Label it and Archive it.
  • If you do not need to do anything with the email but may need to reference it later:  Archive it.
  • If it is spam, junk, or something you'll never EVER need again:  Trash it.

Finding Emails within Gmail

For some, the concern of moving emails outside of the Inbox is the inability to track down those communications again.  Remember, Google is a search company, and the solution they provide is powerful search functionality.

You can search anything you haven't trashed!  That's why it is so valuable to Archive it instead of Trashing it.

Take a look at this video to see how to search right within Gmail.  This can save lots of time and headaches!

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