The Gmail Workflow

This post is somewhat related to my previous post about how I use Gmail. I’ve put together a single image that explains all the previous points about Priority Inbox so you can get a holistic view:

The Gmail Workflow

Upon arrival, email gets filtered and ends up either in the “Important and Unread” section or the “Everything else” section and this is where the user’s “email check cycle” begins:

  1. Start by reading the “Important and Unread” section (conveniently placed at the top of your mailbox). This automatically causes mail to jump to the “Important” section. If an email is not important or doesn’t require an immediate response, demote it and move along to the next important and unread mail.
  2. Now that you’re reading important mail, process them to the best of your abilities, then send them to the archive. If you realize that you can’t respond to a particular email at that moment, leave it in the Important section. Staring important mail has no effect. Next, next, next… done!
  3. If you have previously starred mail, you’ll find a starred section (also conveniently placed below the Important section) for you to attempt to process and archive next.
  4. Now you’re ready to read the “Everything Else” section. Reading mail in that section will not move it anywhere.
  5. If you read mail that you can’t process or get back to at this current time, you can star it to indicate that it is “pending” or “in progress”. During the next check cycle, starred mail will processed sooner than the “Everything else” section, even if you receive new mail (see point 3).
  6. Process the remaining mail and archive

Just to be clear, the term “processing mail” means taking an action on either replying, forwarding, labeling, deleting, or reporting spam. The final destination for mail should be the archive, unless you know for sure that you no longer need it.

I hope this post explained the general idea. If you have questions, voice your thoughts by leaving a comment.


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