Thursday, May 8, 2014

Take Control of your Email with Gmail

Love it or hate it, email is a fact of modern life. Since the first email was sent by Raymond Tomlinson back in 1971, email has grown to over 140 billion of them sent every day! If you ignore your email, you'll end up missing the important one from your bank to say that a check has bounced, or that someone's being trying to hack into one of your accounts. It's the same in business. A report earlier this year indicated that workers spend 28% of their time in their inbox, yet only 14% of these emails are deemed "important."

There are some simple things that you can do to make life a little easier for yourself:

  • Have 2 personal emails, one for important stuff like banks, family and friends and TechnoRV newsletters, and the other throw-away one for shopping, rewards cards etc.
  • Re-train yourself. There's no need to delete messages to "clear your inbox". GMail offers 15Gb and Yahoo has just announced 1TB (yes, one terabyte) of storage for their email (if the average email is about 50KB, you could store about 200 billion emails. To put that into perspective, if you got 100 a day and never deleted a single message, it would take over half a million years to fill up your inbox! Bottom line ... there's no need to delete. 
  • Unsubscribe from email you don't want. Studies have found this can reduce your email by up to 30% making it easier to find what you do want.
  • Don't bother filing your email into neat folders, a good search facility will mean you can always find it again later (assuming you can remember what to search on!).

This can only take you so far. I get on average 150 emails a day. Not all of those are important, maybe only 20%. But it was taking me an inordinate amount of time sorting through them all. But then I discovered Google's Gmail. Even though I'm a self confessed Mac fan, I LOVE Gmail. Okay, there's some things about it I don't like, but on the whole, I think it's given me back at last an hour to an hour and a half each day. That's worth a lot to me.

In the rest of this article I going to tell you why I love Gmail and why you should think about using it if you don't already. In my follow up article I'll cover how to get the most out of Gmail.

Top Benefits of Using Gmail

You Don't have Ditch Your Old Email

Most people think that to use Gmail you have to give up your old email address. Not so. Gmail lets you "pull" your email from other email accounts. Even though I log into Gmail every day, I receive email from my Google address, from my TechnoRV email, and from another email account I have. Simply go to Settings and then Check Mail from other accounts.

It's in the Cloud

Let me explain. The Cloud is where your stuff gets stored, securely. I can check my Gmail on any computer, and all my email, settings, folders and sent mail will be there. Better still, the same applies if I check my Gmail from my smartphone.

To do this you'll probably need to download the Gmail app. Even if you have an Android based device, you may still need to do this as the basic Android email client is pretty hopeless (there's a Gmail app for the iPhone).

Let's say you start an email on your computer and then get distracted and don't send it. If you go into Gmail from your smartphone, you can see the draft email, finish it and send it. That's pretty cool in my book.

It Integrates with Other Google Features

My experience on the Motorola Droid, whilst painful, has got me closer to Google. One of the things I do like is the "openness" of it's architecture (unlike Apple) and so I've standardized on Google Contacts, Google Calendar and Gmail. Since these are in the Cloud, they are always backed up, and more importantly, available from any computer or device (unlike Apple's more closed architecture). I've found that Gmail integrates very well with calendar and contacts. For example, in Gmail, if someone sends you a date and time, you can easily add it to you calander with 1-click. When you get email from someone it's easy to add them to your contacts, plus it connects with Google+ to show you a picture of them if they have one (a useful feature as you get older!).

How Do I Get Gmail

If you don't have Gmail it's a simple signup process, and it's free. Simply visit Google's Gmail signup page. You'll need to enter your current email address to prove you're a real person. If you need help, Google has an excellent help page.

I couple of additional points as your signing up. Make sure you select a good password (10+ characters with a mix of letters and numbers - better still use LastPass). I'd also recommend using the 2-step verification process. It might seem like overkill, but your email password is very important. Think about it, if you forget the login details to your bank account, where do they send them?

One other point. We'd recommend keeping your old email account open for a while. Just keep using your new Gmail and be sure to set it as the defualt to respond with. Over time people will naturally "learn" your new email address. It also helps to import your contacts and send out a notification email. Also be sure to change over all your online accounts to your new email as once you shut down your old email, that becomes much harder to do.


Hopefully we've given you some insight into Google's Gmail. If you're already using a different email and are happy with it, no need to change. BUT, if you find yourself fighting it and spending too long on the basic stuff, now you know what to do. In our next newsletter article I'll cover how to use some of Gmail's cool features to save you time and tame your email!