5 steps to work smarter in the new Gmail

Over the past year, Google has transformed Gmail, enabling everyone to work far more efficiently. But first, you must know the tricks, and you can find them here.

In my everyday life, smart solutions and good structure are absolutely necessary for success. At the Google Next 2021 conference a little over a year ago, Google shared its visions for Google Workspace, and especially Gmail. What were visions then have now been rolled out. Probably very few people have caught on to all the most important improvements.

Above all, the goal of Google in the redesigned Gmail is to reduce the need to jump between applications and lose focus, by introducing a single work surface for all communication. There should no longer be a need to change windows or tabs.

Here we go through five smart solutions in Gmail to prioritize work tasks and help you stay focused on your work tasks.


1| Priority inbox with filters

Gmail lets you choose from a variety of ways to present your email. After testing all the inbox variations over more than a month or more each, I have come to the conclusion that "Priority inbox" gives me the overview I want, and not least, it means that I actually manage to have zero unread emails in my priority inbox.

Here, Gmail helps with artificial intelligence (AI) to prioritize which emails are important rather than those emails that you might just want to open and archive.

Furthermore, I use filters on emails I receive regularly, and on senders who I know come with tasks that must be prioritized.

Maybe other types of inboxes suit your way of working better? Here Gmail excels with yet another strength: It's an inbox for everyone.


2| Google Spaces, Chat and Meet

The Gmail client doesn't just have email. Chat, Spaces and Meet are in the same screen. Chats are instant messages to individuals or small groups of people. Spaces are workspaces for both internal and external people. Rooms with external actors are marked, and all records of people who do not belong to the organization that owns the room are clearly marked.

If you already use Slack or Teams, you will find several familiar elements in Spaces. The rooms are made with simple task management, file sharing, and editing included, without having to switch to other windows. Such a room works great for everything you need to carry out simple projects and tasks.

You can also note that the tasks you assign to a person will go straight to that person's task list with all information and deadlines. When you have completed the task, it can be marked as completed from your own task list, and the room is updated immediately with a notice that the task has been completed.

- Tasks you assign to a person will go straight to that person's task list with the necessary information and deadlines.

Meet has an agenda view of all upcoming Google meetings and also allows you to start a meeting immediately or set up a meeting with one or more people later. Much of this functionality is also available via the calendar sidebar, but the ability to always choose your own way of working is a great strength of Workspace.


3| Move emails to the task list with deadlines

After an email has been opened, it is also important to respond and prioritize how to follow up. Here, Gmail has several options. The simplest can of course be to reply to the email then and there with all the necessary information and necessary answers. Unfortunately, this is not always possible, but several smart functions come into play here:

  • Mark the email with a star or label (tag)
  • Postpone mail until the end of the day or the next morning (snooze)
  • Move the mail to the Task list where you can add more notes and deadlines
  • Create an activity/meeting based on the people in the email
Here everyone can find their own flow, but I can use my workflow as an example. If it's a meeting invitation, I answer them regardless of whether I will participate or not directly from the inbox, if I'm a bit unsure if it's appropriate, I mark "maybe" and move on. They are then added to the calendar and I can prioritize participation and mark them further from the calendar view. Mails I expect will go back and forth with  information I need, I mark with a star and relevant tags. Emails that come with specific tasks where I have a direct action are added to the task list with deadlines. This deadline also automatically goes to your calendar. One last bit of genius is that Gmail allows you to create a meeting or calendar activity directly from an email. Something I often do in connection with the creation of meetings, everyone who says "to" or "copy" is then automatically added to the activity and all you have to do is set the time and duration.


4| Update your Status

Mail may be on the way to becoming less important for internal communication, but it still has an important role in external and more formal communication. Therefore, setting aside time for focusing and handling the inbox is still essential. Here I would like to highlight three simple ways to do this in Gmail in particular:

  • Set your status to busy for a period of time. During this period, Google will not send you any notifications/pings on activities.
  • Set focus time via the calendar. It gives much of the same effect as setting the status manually, only that it is set regularly via the calendar. It will therefore not accept meetings or invitations during these time windows. This can be done directly from the calendar in the sidebar. Or you can open the entire calendar in a new tab if you e.g. want to see a display of a longer period.
  • Put your working hours in the calendar; when people set up a meeting with you, they will receive a notice if it is outside normal working hours.


5| Delegation of mailboxes

It can be a bit much at times for one person to handle, or if you are going on holiday or leave for a period of time, it can be a great advantage to be able to delegate access to your email. This is easily done via the Settings of Gmail. The person you have given access to will be able to switch to "your" Gmail inbox and reply on your behalf.

It stands also clear from the answers that there is another person who answers on your behalf and who this person is. Very neat and orderly during the holiday process or when several people are responsible for a shared email address.


As these simple steps have shown, Gmail has a lot of clever new solutions you can utilize to get more things done. Collectively, they can help make a hectic everyday life a little less hectic. And they allow you to stay focused on what is important, not which application you have to switch to in order to solve the next work task. All the tips we have presented here are done in Gmail, without you having to change applications or tabs in the browser.

If you want more tips or information about Google Workspace, feel free to contact me via LinkedIn or at stig.andreassen@thecloudpeople.com