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How I Use Gmail Multiple-Inboxes Lab Feature to Manage E-mail Overload

25 June 2010 Posted by in category: information overload with Tags , , , , ,

Back in February 2009 I wrote a post about a new lab feature that Google added to Gmail – multiple inboxes. After more than a year of using this great feature, I'd like to share how it helps me manage my e-mail (overload).

What is a Gmail multiple inboxes

Gmail multiple inboxes allows you to have more than one ‘inbox’ in your default Gmail view. You can have up to 5 additional panels and set them to display labels, your starred messages, drafts or any search you want next to your inbox. To learn how to set it up read my previous post about it.

My views: main inbox, non-work, daily stuff and newsletters, to-dos and drafts

My views are separated mainly based on their importance and urgency levels. Note that about 90% of the e-mails I get are automatically directed to their view using Gmail's filters. See a screenshot of my inbox below:

A screenshot of my inbox in Gmail. It is separated into five parts that are elaborate that in the blog posts: main inbox, non-work, daily stuff, To-Dos and newsletters, and draftsclick the image to enlarge

main inbox – most important and urgent

The main inbox view contains e-mails that didn't go to any other view. Hopefully, these are the most important and urgent to answer our deal with.

Non-work – important but less urgent

This view gets  e-mails from family members and friends,  messages I get on Facebook, Aardvark answers, calendar notifications and so on. The point here is that it's OK to delay the answer to these e-mails if necessary. Usually I will get to them the same day  they were sent in, or one day later. But if I read them (or only their subject) and decide not to answer right away, they will stay out of the main inbox and will not interfere with more important e-mails.

Daily stuff and newsletters – Less important, not that urgent

Newsletters and other e-mails that are sent to me automatically, go to this view. It includes Linkedin updates, mailing lists I'm subscribe to (only if they don't have an RSS feed, of course. If they did, they would go straight to Google Reader), meetup notifications, new twitter-follower announcements, and so on.

To-dos – not urgent

The To-Do view usually gets e-mails I sent myself (from work, from Google reader and the like). These are e-mails I want to deal with when I have some free time. I will usually empty this view once every few weeks.


As the name imply, the drafts view contains  e-mails that I have started to write but did not send. It will usually be empty. I find it comfortable to have the draft e-mails in front of me when they exists, otherwise I tend to forget about them.

Got any questions about this post or you want to share your own e-mails processing methods? Feel free to share them with us in the comments.

2 Responses to “How I Use Gmail Multiple-Inboxes Lab Feature to Manage E-mail Overload”

  1. Name 13 November 2010 at 12:37 pm (PERMALINK)

    thanx for the post

  2. Sam 16 November 2010 at 8:12 pm (PERMALINK)

    Wow, very detailed. thank you for this!