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author photoChelsea FaithOctober 23, 2023

How to Organize Gmail Inbox: 5 Tips for a Cleaner, More Efficient Inbox


Does this scenario ring a bell for you?

You open your email, filled with hope for fresh opportunities or a momentary break from a demanding day. But, instead, you're confronted with a chaotic jungle of emails, like an untamed wilderness.

You promise yourself to tackle your unruly inbox later. But as days go by, it only grows messier and more overwhelming. Procrastination only deepens your frustrations as you struggle to regain control.

Luckily for you, there's a clear path to navigate this email jungle. In this article, we'll delve into specific gmail organization tips to control your inbox.

Note: Clean up your inbox with Tatem's email client for productivity. Organize your inbox, use hotkeys, split inboxes, short cuts, and effortlessly get through your inbox with our software. Sign up today.

Setting the Foundation: The 4D Approach to "Inbox Zero"

If you're like many users, you've likely experienced the frustration of cleaning out your Gmail inbox, only to have it spiral back into chaos within a few weeks -- it's like clockwork.

It happens because, while you've done some cleaning, your email habits haven't really changed. Much like those New Year's resolutions that fizzle out before February, you need a reliable set of principles to ensure not just a clutter-free inbox, but a consistently organized one.

So, before we jump into the practical tips, let's lay the groundwork: understanding "Inbox Zero." This concept can help you maintain an organized inbox and escape from the frustrating cycle of temporary order and perpetual chaos.

Coined by Merlin Mann, the core principle of the Inbox Zero method is to keep your inbox as empty as possible, at all times. Yet, the "Zero" doesn't refer to email quantity. It's about the time your mind spends in the inbox.

In other words, the goal of following the email management best practices isn't merely reducing emails, but decreasing the time you spend thinking about your inbox.

Here are the 5 steps recommended to keep your inbox organized:


If you haven't opened a single email from a particular subscription in the last four weeks, it's just adding to the clutter.

So, when you see an email with no future relevance, delete it. If you're feeling sentimental, archive it (we'll get to that in a bit).


Deleting isn't always the best solution. Sometimes, it's more practical to pass emails on to your colleagues. When you're not sure about how to respond to an email, don't hesitate to involve someone else, and after that, you can either archive the email or delete it.


When it's time to hit that reply button, keep two things in the back of your mind. First, consider if you're the go-to person who can handle this email. Second, think about whether this email needs your immediate attention. If both these things align, then it's time to spring into action and respond promptly.


Some emails need more time or thought, but they're not super urgent. These are like homework assignments – you can't do them right away, so you put them in your backpack to tackle later. Move these emails to a "To-Do" or "Pending" folder and set a time to deal with them.


For those little tasks that pop up in your email, do them on the spot. If a task takes two minutes or less, don't procrastinate. Knock it out and archive the email.

Select Your Gmail Layout

Your journey to a more organized Gmail inbox starts with selecting the right layout. It determines how your emails are displayed and categorized, setting the stage for a tidier, more efficient inbox.

Let's explore the five Gmail layout options:

Default: This standard format organizes your Gmail inbox by email reception date. It categorizes emails into tabs at the top, helping differentiate between "Primary," "Social," and "Promotions."

Important First: Gmail predicts essential emails and places them at the top with a yellow marker. Less important ones follow.

Unread First: Similar to "Important First," it divides your inbox into two parts, focusing on unread emails at the top.

Starred First: Separates your inbox into two sections: starred messages at the top of your inbox and the rest below.

Priority Inbox: A blend of all layouts, it prioritizes emails you interact with most. Ideal for high email volume.

After selecting your layout, you can now move on to the next step.

Archive Emails You Do Not Need (The Simplest Method)

Think of those monthly bills flooding your inbox - internet, utilities, streaming subscriptions. You may need them for future reference or budgeting, but they don't demand immediate attention. Archiving them clears the clutter, and when it's bill-paying time, they're just a quick search away.

To archive your emails on your desktop follow these three simple steps:

  1. Start by logging into your Gmail account
  2. Hover your cursor over the message you want to archive.
  3. Right beside the sender's information and description, you'll spot the Archive icon. It's a nifty little box with a downward-pointing arrow. Click on it, and that email is now neatly tucked away.

On Android, the process is equally straightforward:

  1. Launch the Gmail app
  2. Open the message you want to archive or go the efficient route by selecting multiple messages for archiving.
  3. Once you've got your emails lined up, tap the Archive icon, and off they go, organized and out of sight.

But how can you retrieve archived messages when you need them?

This process is a breeze, too:

  1. Hover your cursor over the left edge of your Gmail window, and watch the sidebar expand.
  2. Now, you'll see an option called 'All Mail.' If it's not visible right away, click 'More,' and scroll down until you spot it.
  3. Once you've clicked 'All Mail,' you'll find all your archived messages, neatly tucked alongside your other non-deleted emails.

You can also use the Gmail Search bar to find such emails if you remember their content. For example, you can input your search criteria, such as 'November Receipt' in the advanced search bar.

That said, not every email requires manual sorting through your inbox before heading to the archives. You can create a filter that sidesteps the inbox altogether (which we'll talk about later) or use the Send & Archive feature.

Using the Send & Archive feature

After you've responded to an email, it's quite common for that conversation to slip from your immediate memory until a reply reappears. So, why allow these email exchanges to clutter your inbox when you've already handled them?

Autoarchiving allows you you send a reply or compose a new message and Gmail automatically archives the original email in one swift action, keeping your entire inbox pristine.

But what if the other party responds? No worries, the email platform returns your conversation to your primary inbox so you can continue the discussion.

To enable this feature:

  1. Click on the gear icon (Settings) in the upper right corner of your Gmail account.
  2. Select "See all settings."
  3. Navigate to the "General" tab.
  4. Locate the "Send & Archive" section.
  5. Choose the "Show 'Send & Archive' button in reply."
  6. Scroll down and click "Save Changes."

Are you someone who likes to tackle unread messages one at a time, reading and replying to each as they come? Or do you prefer to breeze through your inbox, dealing with multiple emails in rapid succession?

Auto-Advance is an option that caters to both preferences. It is one of the tactics to boost your Gmail productivity. It streamlines your workflow, automatically moving you to the next email after you archive, delete, or reply to one.

Here's a simple guide to set up Auto-Advance in Gmail:

  1. Click the Settings gear in your Gmail Inbox.
  2. Choose "See all settings."
  3. Click on the "Advanced" tab.
  4. Next to "Auto-advance," click "Enable."
  5. Save your changes.
  6. Go back to your Gmail inbox.
  7. Once more, go to "Settings" > "See all settings."
  8. Scroll down to the "Auto-advance" section under the "General" tab.
  9. Now, you have three choices:
  • "Go to the next (newer) conversation": If you prefer moving to a newer email after deleting or archiving the current one.
  • "Go to the previous (older) conversation": Choose this to jump to an older email in your list.
  • "Go back to the threadlist": To reset to the default Gmail behavior, use this option.
    1. Pick your preferred option, scroll to the bottom, and click "Save Changes." You're all set!

Use Labels to Declutter Your Inbox

Using Gmail labels offers a straightforward yet efficient way to categorize your messages. They let you assign labels like "Friends" to emails from specific contacts or "Work" to those linked to your professional life. They also act as signposts for the next steps, such as "Follow Up" or "Pay."

Here's why you should consider using them:

  1. Track Task Status: They allow you to track the progress of tasks or projects with ease. For instance, you can create labels like "David: In Progress" and "David: Done" to denote emails that Laura is currently working on or has completed.
  2. Flag for Follow-Up: They serve as visual cues for emails that require follow-up. You can tag important emails with labels like "Follow Up" to ensure they don't get lost in the shuffle.
  3. Reserving for Later: Occasionally, you come across emails that aren't urgent but are worth revisiting at a later time. Labels offer a convenient way to earmark such emails. For instance, you might use a "Read Later" label to separate these emails.

Creating Labels:

  1. Log into Gmail on your desktop.
  2. In the left sidebar, scroll down and click "More."
  3. Click "Create new label."
  4. Choose a name for your label.
  5. Click "Create."

Adding Gmail Labels to Messages:

  1. Open the message you want to label.
  2. Click the label icon at the top.
  3. Create a new label or select an existing one.

You can even take your label game to the next level by creating nested labels/sub-labels and using color-coded labels.

With sublabels, you can categorize messages with even more precision. Instead of labeling something as "Work," you can specify it as "Work > Important Projects." To create a sublabel:

  • Select a message and click the Labels button
  • Then click "Create new" and provide a name for your sublabel
  • To nest the label, tick the box marked "Nest label under" and choose a parent label from the drop down menu.

Color-coded labels bring a visual dimension to your inbox, allowing you to quickly identify the nature of an email by its color. For instance, you can assign a bright red label to urgent emails and a calming blue label to those requiring your attention but not immediately.

To create color-coded labels:

  • Scroll through the left-hand-side panel of your Gmail account until you find the label you want to color-code.
  • Click on these three dots to display a list of options
  • Hover your mouse over the "Label color" option to reveal a palette of various colors.
  • Pick the color that best suits the nature of your label.

Labels are one of the best ways to declutter your emails.

Create Gmail Filters to Simplify Your Inbox

Gmail filters are automated rules that help you sort your emails without manual effort.

For instance, you often receive order confirmation emails from various online retailers to your Gmail address. You can set up a filter that labels any email containing "Order Confirmation" and archives it. This way, you can easily find your order information when needed without it clogging your inbox.

But filters can do much more than just sifting through order confirmations. You can use them to automatically:

  • categorize emails
  • mark them as read
  • add stars for priority
  • apply labels for easy identification
  • automatically archive recurring emails
  • send them directly to the trash.

Here's how to put filters to work:

  1. Click the gear icon, go to Settings, and select "Filters and Blocked Addresses."
  2. At the bottom of the page, click "Create a new filter."
  3. Define your filter parameters based on your needs, like specific keywords or organize Gmail inbox by senders.
  4. After defining your filter, click "Create a filter with this search."
  5. Next, choose what your filter should do. To skip the inbox and send emails directly to the archives, check the "Skip the Inbox (Archive it)" box.
  6. You can also check "Mark as read" if you're filtering emails you don't need to read right away.

Use Tatem to Organize Your Gmail Inbox Like a Pro

You've learned about the steps to declutter your Gmail inbox, and you're one step closer to achieving that tidy, organized feel.

But what if there was a way to turbocharge your email management, saving you even more time, and all with minimal manual effort?

Enter Tatem, a powerful email client that can help you respond to important messages promptly, navigate your inbox at double the speed, and finally put an end to email-related stress.

Here's a glimpse of how Tatem can help you blaze through email management:

  • Tatem offers easy-to-use keyboard shortcuts for quicker navigation. Need to switch between inboxes? Just hit the 'Tab' key. Want to compose a new email? 'C' does the job. And when it's time to reply, a quick 'R' is all you need
  • You can create multiple inboxes, each with a unique purpose, helping you categorize and store emails by importance. With Split Inbox, you can automate this process, reaching Inbox Zero faster and gaining more control over your emails.
  • You can set up filtering rules to organize incoming emails into the right folders automatically.
  • And here's the real ace up our sleeve: Tatem's AI learns from your actions, smartly labeling emails, creating rules, assisting with text editing, and even automating responses.

Ready to transform your inbox from chaos to order? Sign up for Tatem today and start your journey to a clutter-free, efficient inbox managed with precision and ease.