Instantly and easily cleaning up your gmail inbox

Some people have amazingly effective methods of keeping their inboxes tidy.  But if you’re like me and feel that your inbox has gotten out of control, there are two tools in the gmail labs which, when used together, can instantly make your inbox tidier.

To add these features to your gmail account, click on ‘settings’ then on ‘labs’.

The first feature you want to add is called ‘SmartLabels’.  The description Google labs gives for SmartLabels is as follows:

Automatically categorizes incoming Bulk, Notification or Forum messages. Filters are created to label mail with these categories and Bulk is filtered out of the Inbox by default.

The second is called ‘Multiple inboxes’.  The description:

Add extra lists of emails in your inbox to see even more important email at once. The new lists of threads can be labels, your starred messages, drafts or any search you want, configurable under Settings.

After enabling both these features and clicking save, here’s what you do.

Go to your settings and set your multiple inboxes to be to the right of your inbox.  Make one of them for bulk, one for notifications, one for forums, and one for starred or whatever other label you want to draw attention to.  I’d do them in reverse order of what I’ve listed here.

After saving your settings, archive all your bulk, notification, and forum messages, and set those messages to skip the inbox.  They’ll still show up in your multiple inboxes.

And voila!  Your primary inbox will now consist almost exclusively of important messages.  Most new messages coming in will going into one of the side inboxes, so they won’t distract you when you’re looking for important messages, but you can still view them when you choose to.

What techniques do you use to keep your inbox tidy?