Category Archives: Email

Gmail Filters Revisited

Just merely one day after I wrote the article on email bankruptcy and applied the filters that gmail offers – I want to give you an update and some more tips on controlling your email and keeping things from getting out of hand. Gmail filters are insanely useful.

Gmail Filters

Gmail Filters

When I wrote the last post on email bankruptcy I was actually cleaning up my own email box. I had about 8,000 unread emails which as I mentioned in the post weren’t spam, they weren’t important but they were definitely noise. You know – these are the email lists you once thought you needed to be on. Noise are the newsletters from retailers you shop from – or bought one thing from 4 years ago… Its noise. Its not spam. Some of it was opted in on, but its not the important stuff that you need to respond to or work from.

In the first article I gave a few techniques on getting a handle on email. Read it if you need a refresher on how Gmail works and why its the best thing in the world. And for the record – when I say Gmail – I use the website browser for all of my email. I don’t need it all downloaded to a computer. I don’t want it in the email app on my phone. This is one of the best UI’s of any web app out there. Just open a browser and go – the service is amazing. Learn the hotkeys as well as you’ll get fast and realize this is simply the best email management service around and its free and available on any computer or mobile web browser.


We talked about how to create a folder on one message, but I discovered you can go to your inbox, select multiple messages at once that I consider noise and then select the gear icon and create the filter. Same process I covered before, but it deals with multiple noise sources at once. Gmail filters create with the “OR” operator so you can theoretically do one filter to control them all. That’s actually not easy to do, so just pair them down by selecting what you see on the page.

So not only did my noise decrease, but I actually got to “inbox zero” in about 1 hour. Read that again – I am stunned at how fast I got this all down. Gmail filters for the win. I will need to continue to prune the gmail filters, but today has been amazing. I automated about 100 noise emails into a folder and marked as read and the 10 emails I got in my box (it is a Sunday, but still…) I responded to and archived. It was amazing. I saw how often I check my email and how useless a waste of time that all is. I got rid of the noise and made life much more peaceful – at least for today. Email – 0 Ted – 1.

If you’re wondering why I sent all this email to a folder and marked as read INSTEAD of just deleting it – let me explain.

Gmail gives me 10GB of space. I am using about 20% of this. The noise email was stressing me out one little chunk of time at a time, but I decided to leave it so I can search for it. I might change this in the future, but some of the noise, stuff from camera, music and 8mm niche lists I’m on – I might actually have some time to read it and I can search for it because I still have it. But its not yelling at me to open while I’m trying to do something else. Gmail filters allow me to change this in the future, but archiving the way Gmail is designed make Gmail filters worth using the whole service.

I’m hoping this solves my email issues. I’m stunned. Honestly, I wrote that post while I was actually doing it myself, I have to follow up with how much I’m really amazed at how INCREDIBLE an email management app Gmail really is.

Use it. It will reward you! The shortcuts alone are worth the whole deal.

Email Bankruptcy Control With Gmail

email bankruptcy

Email Bankruptcy is a recently coined term. Unfortunately we’re hearing it quite a bit these days. Basically it just means deleting all of your email and putting an auto-responder on your account saying you couldn’t deal with it all, sorry – send your message again if it was important.

This not only looks really unprofessional, but I think its pretty stupid. But its a growing fantasy for me because email has become a burden in the last 10 years. I remember my first email account back at UNT my last year there. The internet was public and the university was giving students free accounts. I had to check it using ZTerm – it was pretty crude. But I also remember checking it every 3 or 4 days in the library. I had about 3 people I emailed with and it was awesome. Then I had a teacher that used it. I had to check it daily, but it was fine because it was useful and had purpose.

Fast forward almost 20 years and email sucks. I can’t stand it. It has stuff I need in there so I have to use it, but with texting and social media – I really never use it to keep up with friends anymore. Its a work-related need.

So people do email bankruptcy when the problem is out of control. So what is the problem and why is it out of control?

The problem is the noise. The emails I want to see are one’s that are relevant – then there’s noise. Sure noise includes spam, but its really the self inflicted spam. You know – all the old mailing lists you thought you needed to be on. Its the retailers that got your email when you made one purchase 5 years ago for a gift you didn’t even want to buy. Its the stuff you get from Amazon or Netflix making recommendations based on the personal data they are mining from you. That my friend, is noise. So that’s the defined problem. There’s stuff in there we need, there’s spam and then theres stuff that we don’t really need but consumes our attention.

A Controlled Email Bankruptcy

Personally I believe everyone should be using Gmail. Its the best email out there – period. In fact you can port just about all of your email accounts into Gmail and use it as one master hub for all of your mail. Its also got the best spam filter out there so it eliminates spam from our troubles here.

What you want to do is learn how to use filters to control the noise. If we can get that under control then the only thing coming into the inbox is email we want to deal with.

And yes – you could go through these email by email to go “unsubscribe” to each. I gave up on that personally because 1) it takes forever – they don’t want you to unsubscribe and 2) sometimes things like Flickr don’t listen to what privacy settings you’ve set. I’ve changed them 3 times and I’ve now given up.

The filtering process requires patience. Its faster still, but like pruning a tree – you need to continue to work on it now and then. But the time you save not seeing all the noise far out weighs the time you’ll spend dealing with noise mail.

Applying Filters

In Gmail, open the email you want to filter. On the right side of the email you’ll see a drop down arrow next to the reply button. Click the drop down and select “Filter messages like this”.

managing email with gmail filters

This will take you to the Filter criteria. Gmail automatically populates this to be from either the sender or mailing list if its an email group. Beautiful! You can add to this if you need more specificity, but this does the trick for me. Click “Create”.


Then you’ll get the screen asking what to do with the email. I’m setting mine to stay out of the inbox. That way if I actually need something (and I may not) its there, but its out of my way and I don’t need to see it. You could certainly delete emails with the actions screen to. Do what you need. I mark mine as read, archive them and label them “Grand Parade”. You get bonus points if you know the music reference. Genesis had a song called the Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging on the seminal Land Lies Down on Broadway album. But I digress. Also you can check the “apply to current messages” tick box. This will go ahead and clean out your inbox for you. Click “create filter” and you’ve got it!


Now you’ll need to wash, rinse and repeat on any noise message you no longer want to see. This actually goes faster than you think, but its totally worth carving out the time to deal with. And remember – like I said earlier, you’ll need to make time to maintain this, but it saves sanity down the line and keeps you from looking like the jerk who couldn’t deal with his email anymore so he just deleted it all. Avoid email bankruptcy.

If anyone has any suggestions on email management – feel free to leave a comment below!