In a previous post, When Mental Notes Make You Mental: How to Keep Ideas from Disappearing Into the Ether, I talked about using a keyword (I use “YYY”) when I send myself To Do emails.
Well, I also use a keyword to send myself other emails, such as entries to my food journal. And I don’t want those entries cluttering up my search results when I’m trying to gather my To Dos.
I also don’t like to delete any of my YYY emails that are To Dos.
Call me an email hoarder, but I don’t see a reason to delete them once they’re done or recorded. I’ve found them useful.
That said, I do not want to inadvertently overlook the YYY emails that require attention this week because they get lost in all that clutter.
So what do I do?
Decluttering the List By Hoarding Emails In the Attic. Clutter In the Attic Doesn’t Count.*
Here’s how I keep my list of search results uncluttered.
Set up a To Do label (folder) in your Gmail.**
Set up a sub-label called “CLEAN UP” or anything else that makes sense to you. I call mine “RECORDED and/or DONE.” It’s not an accurate name, but that doesn’t matter. This is just a folder to hold anything you don’t want to see every week.
You can search for all of your YYY emails anytime you want by typing “YYY” (without the quotes) into the Search bar.
The One That’s On His Dog Tags
Find out the “official” name of your label. The official name can be found by clicking on the label itself. The name appears in the Search bar. Here’s what the screen should look like (the black box in my image was added by me to hide my insanely odd label names):
If you only want to see the decluttered list, type this:
yyy NOT label:to-do-recorded-and-or-done
Where the above text says “to-do-recorded-and-or-done,” substitute the official name of your label.
In essence, this tells Gmail you want to see every email with YYY except for the ones you moved to the cleanup folder.
Apparently Gmail Wants You to Yell to Prove You’re Serious
NOTE: It’s very important to capitalize NOT. Capitalization doesn’t seem to matter, otherwise, but the search won’t work with “not” or “Not.”
Gmail Also Wants You to Only Have Conversations With Yourself
This search will only work if Conversation View is turned off. Conversation View is the view that threads messages together.
Gmail defaults to Conversation View, so you will probably need to turn it off.
Here is how you change the view:
- Click on the Gmail Settings gear-shaped icon.
- On the Setting page, scroll down to the Conversation View section. If the “Conversation view on” radio button is selected, click on “Conversation view off.”
Did You Achieve Closet Hoarder Status?
Once you have these set up, send yourself some test messages using your keyword. Use various subject lines such as “YYY test 1,” “YYY test 2,” “YYY rubber chicken.”
Then move some of the test messages into the new cleanup folder.
Try the search to confirm that the ones you moved no longer show up in your search results.
NOTE: The search may not be clean right away. I’ve noticed that sometimes it takes a few minutes to get the results you want.
To find out more about how I use keywords along with this filtering method to keep my life from derailing, read When Mental Notes Make You Mental.
*Neither do French fries if consumed alongside diet soda. Nor does any dust or cat hair that’s under the sofa.
**There are really good tutorials (better than I would write) out there on how to set up folders (Gmail calls them “labels”) and how to filter into them. So I’m going to gloss over that part.