How To Marie Kondo Your Inbox, According To A Google Productivity Expert

Nothing causes Sunday Scaries like the looming threat of a cluttered inbox on Monday morning. But in addition to causing stress, a disorganized inbox can also negatively impact your productivity at work. When your unread-email count goes up with every minute, it’s hard to know what to respond to and when — and getting your day-to-day tasks done on top of email management can seem almost too difficult to juggle. So with the KonMari method on the brain, we wondered: If you can Marie Kondo your closetfriendships, and finances, can you do the same for your inbox?We tapped the expertise of Laura Mae Martin, executive productivity advisor at Google, who leads a training at the company about this very topic. Below, she provided tips on how to stay on top of your inbox so that it “sparks joy” — well, to the extent that emails can spark joy!

“Help! My inbox is so overwhelming I could cry! How can I organize my emails to make them more manageable and efficient?

Inbox anxiety is a real thing! But there’s hope. These are the three most important steps for wrangling your inbox, in this order:”

1) Stop seeing emails you don’t need to see. Each time you touch an email, it drains a little bit of energy, so you should only touch those you need to see. Create filters or rules to have less important messages that don’t deserve your immediate attention — like newsletters — skip the inbox or go directly into folders. Try using the filter ‘Has the words: unsubscribe’ so that this kind of mail skips your inbox.

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2) Create filter/label combinations or ‘flags’ so that emails you do need to see visually pop as they come in. For example, emails directly from your manager to you should have a different look than emails from your manager to the whole company. If you’re in sales or recruiting, emails from your most important clients or candidates should catch your eye easily.”

3) Create buckets outlining what your next step is for all the emails that do come in. This is the equivalent of Marie Kondo’s ‘put everything on the bed and then put it in piles’ method. Your bed is your main inbox. Take your whole inbox and organize it into three categories: Assign things you need to respond to or act on to ‘keep,’ assign things you’re waiting on someone else for to ‘donate,’ and assign things you don’t need anymore (archive) to ‘throw away.’

“How long is too long to go without responding to someone?

I believe 24 hours is typically an appropriate amount of time to give some kind of response, but that can depend on your workload and the email. Remember that a response does not mean completing their request. Sometimes my response is: ‘I’m working on a lot of projects right now, so I won’t be able to get to this until the end of the month — just wanted to let you know!’ But it’s still a response, so they know they’re not being ignored or that I haven’t missed their email. It also saves me from getting another email from them checking back in.

What should I do before and after I go on vacation to help mitigate the inevitable coming-back-from-vacation inbox chaos?

Before vacation, tie up any loose ends and make sure you give very specific instructions in your out-of-office [message], i.e., ‘If this is urgent, resend with URGENT in the subject line’ or ‘If this needs a decision before I return, send to X person.’ This way, it’s not up to you to fish around for important emails while on vacation or upon your return. When you get back, give yourself some non-work time to go through your email so you feel prepared to return to a regular work day.”You can also declare ’email bankruptcy’ upon returning from a longer leave like maternity leave. Your out-of-office could say — ‘I’m out of office and will be archiving all emails upon my return. If your request needs my attention after my return, please re-send after X date.’ That way, you start fresh when you get back and fill in context by searching where you need to!

What should I delete or archive? Is there a rule of thumb?

The greatest thing about Gmail is the archive feature. It gives you a fourth option outside of inbox, delete, or folder/label. My advice is to only archive, unless you have space constraints. Then learn how to search Gmail really, really well and find emails quickly without having to check a folder or worry they’re in the trash!

Are there any Gmail tools I can implement to help me stay focused on the task at hand and not overwhelmed by other clutter?

One of my favorite Gmail features for this is snooze. It allows you to remove an email from your inbox and then bring it back at a specific time or date. This is a great way to keep an active inbox and only see emails you have a next action for. If you have an email that requires a response but you won’t know the answer until after a meeting next Monday, snooze the email to next Monday! Snooze keeps the things you don’t need hidden and, combined with filters, can make your inbox include important tasks only.

How can I keep things that “spark joy” and part with things that do not?

Let’s be honest — most emails don’t spark joy. But there are some exceptions! I keep a Smile File folder, which contains all the emails I’ve gotten that make me smile. My Smile File has anything from puppy pictures to people thanking me for helping them save so much time. When I’m having a particularly overwhelming day, I open that folder and it sparks a little joy.”When it comes to your inbox, the sparking joy question is: ‘Do I have a next action on this?’ You should be asking yourself that with every email. If the answer is yes, immediately, put it in the corresponding folder (i.e. To Read). Many people open an email once but then mark it as unread again, confusing their brain as to whether it’s new or if they already saw it. If the answer is ‘no next action,’ archive or delete it. People get overwhelmed when they leave things around that they might need later or may want to reference one day. Those things don’t have an immediate next action or spark joy, so they should be purged (right after you thank those emails for their service, like Marie Kondo does!).”The real joy comes from having a tidy inbox that you’re on top of. It creates the calm feeling and mental headspace that stems from knowing exactly what you have to do and where to find what you need to do it. People tell me all the time they feel so much better and happier setting up this system — it’s the positive energy from having your inbox space set up well!”

New pricing for G Suite Basic and Business Editions

The Journey of G Suite

(from Google’s Update Blog)

More than a decade ago, we introduced Gmail—our first cloud-native productivity app—to help make email safer and easier for everyone. Since then, we pioneered more ways for teams to collaborate in real-time with products like Google Calendar, Docs, Drive and Hangouts. Together, these apps make up G Suite, our set of intelligent, secure productivity and collaboration tools.

We’ve brought businesses more than a dozen new G Suite services to help them reimagine how they work, including powerful video conferencing (Hangouts Meet), secure team messaging (Hangouts Chat) and enterprise-grade search capabilities(Cloud Search). We’ve also infused our products with advanced artificial intelligence to make it easier to respond to emailsgather insights from data and protect against phishing attacks before they happen.

Today, more than four million organizations use G Suite to collaborate efficiently and securely, and analysts have taken notice. IDC’s Wayne Kurtzman notes, “Google has established G Suite as a secure, enterprise-ready, AI–powered productivity and collaboration platform. With its broad set of capabilities, G Suite offers a strong value proposition to customers.”

 

Over the last ten years, G Suite has grown to provide more tools, functionality and value to help businesses transform the way they work. The one thing that hasn’t changed over this time, is price. Today, we are announcing two incremental list price updates to reflect this value. Starting on April 2, 2019, G Suite Basic Edition will increase by $1 (from $5 to $6 per user/month) and G Suite Business Edition will increase by $2 (from $10 to $12 per user/month), or the local currency equivalent where applicable. These increases will apply globally with local market adjustments for certain regions. Pricing for G Suite Enterprise Edition customers will not change.

For existing G Suite Basic or Business edition customers on the Flexible Plan, the new list prices will go into effect on April 2, 2019. For customers on the Annual Plan, the new prices will go into effect the first time their plan renews on or after April 2, 2019. These changes will not impact current contracts or any renewal events prior to April 2, 2019.

Additionally, for those Basic and Business Edition customers who receive their bill from Google, we’ll send an email with details specific to their domains no later than February 28, 2019. Any customer that licenses G Suite through a reseller should hear from their partners directly regarding the new pricing, or they can reach out to their partners proactively.

We are grateful for the many businesses that use G Suite to empower their teams to work collaboratively, and we remain committed to expanding its functionality to help our customers succeed. Feel free to reference this edition guide to learn more about each offering.

Security Best Practices

Security Best Practices

Passwords

Tip: Use an 8+ character password with mixed case/numbers/symbols along with 2FA (Two-Factor Authentication)

Passwords are among the first lines of defense to fail. It won’t surprise anyone that the two most commonly used passwords are ‘123456’ and ‘password’. Many of us are afraid to create complex passwords for fear of forgetting them.

The easiest method to harden your password security is to think of at least three 8+ character passwords with mixed case/numbers/symbols. ‘Mentally label’ each of the three passwords as green/yellow/red. Choose the green password for the lowest security sites that have no real personal info — save the red passwords for banking or shopping sites that retain your account numbers and credit cards. As these passwords are used for more and more sites, rotate out your green password and replace it with yellow and red — making them the new green password. Lastly, establish a new red password for your highest security sites.

Even an 8+ character password, though, can be guessed by special hacking computers within 5-6 hours. We must also pair our complex passwords with 2-step verification or 2-factor authentication where a successful login then prompts us to confirm our identity with a code sent to our mobile phone or email address. Google has supported 2-Step-Verification for years and if not already using it for your Google/Gmail accounts, you should enable it immediately.

Any site that holds sensitive information that does not support 2FA, should really be reconsidered as a site you continue using or at least should have a 12 or 15 or 20 character complex password — or better, passphrase such as, “my b1rthplace 1s Cleveland” (include spaces).

 

Website Security

Tip: Login to websites only if they display a ‘lock’ in the address bar

Websites that require a user to login with an established username and password are responsible for protecting the information they retain — passwords, addresses, credit card info, etc — with a security protocol called SSL. This protocol prevents unauthorized websites to mimic or ‘pose’ as valid sites and also prevents ‘eavesdropping’ of data while traveling between your computer and the site.

You can recognize websites that have established this security certification by looking in the web browser address bar when visiting the site.

 

Make it a policy to check for this security ‘lock’ before logging into any website and entering any personal information.

 

Web Browser

Tip: Use a Standards Compliant Web Browser such as Chrome, Firefox or Safari.

Your continued use of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer may be the cause of your past computer infections. The standards used to deliver web data have been notoriously non-standard when involving Internet Explorer historically. Though recent versions (like Microsoft Edge) have improved, there is little reason to maintain a loyalty to IE. Even if a website recommends its use, consider an alternative website that does NOT require it. Your security may be at risk.

Popular browsers like Chrome, Firefox and Safari allow for plug-ins, or helper programs, to add features and functionality by 3rd party software companies. We recommend adding the HTTPS Everywhere plug-in to your web browser. This plugin enforces the use of SSL or https on websites.

 

VPNs

Tip: Install a browser based or standalone VPN (Virtual Private Network) service for ~$4/month

Although mostly used by computer techies and foreign dissidents speaking out against their censoring governments, the use of VPNs is gaining attention in today’s security addled climate. This PC Magazine article best describes the function of a VPN and the excerpt below offers a brief summary.

We use and recommend KeepSolid’s VPN Unlimited which is reviewed in the article and selected as an Editor’s Choice.

What Is a VPN?
A VPN is a lot more than just something you need for remotely accessing your work files. When you switch on your VPN, it creates an encrypted tunnel between your computer and the VPN server, which can foil hackers or even government snoops trying to eavesdrop on your activities. From the server, your web traffic travels off into the public internet, but your actual IP address remains hidden. Data-hungry website advertisers see the IP address of the VPN server instead of your own. We recommend using a VPN as often as you can, but especially when your PC is connected to a public Wi-Fi network. When you hop on an unsecured network at the airport or coffee shop, you have no way of knowing whether the network is what it claims to be. Instead of a convenience offered to thirsty customers and weary travelers, the network could have been created by a hacker looking to intercept your data.  VPNs can also be used to disguise your actual location, which is why these services are often used by journalists and political activists operating in countries with restrictive internet controls.

Recovering a Stolen or Hacked Gmail Account

Q. Does Google have a precise protocol for restoring a hacked Gmail account?

A. Google has two plans of action for compromised Gmail accounts, and the one you use depends on whether you can still sign in to the hacked account. Even if you suspect that your account has been hacked, try logging in anyway. Warning signs of a hijacked email account can include friends complaining of suspicious messages from your address, logins from unknown gadgets shown on the Recently Used Devices area of your account activity page, missing contacts or messages, or even Gmail’s own security alerts based on your last account activity.

Photo

 
When you turn on two-step verification in your Gmail settings, you log into your account with both your password and a code sent to your phone. CreditThe New York Times

If you can still get into your account, immediately change your Gmail password. While you are in your Gmail security settings, turn on two-step verification, which requires both a password and a code (sent to your smartphone) to log into your account — an extra step that stops those who merely crack your password. Google’s Gmail Help site has a security checklist that offers further suggestions, and the federal government’s site for Internet awareness,OnGuardOnline.gov, has a few safety tips as well.

If you cannot get into your account, fill out the account recovery form on the Gmail Help site. It may take a frustrating bit of time to regain control of your account, but once you do, visit your Gmail security settings to update the recovery options you can use (like an alternative email address or a mobile phone number) to regain access to your account if someone else tries to steal it. To avoid losing your address book from a compromised account, you should also consider exporting your Gmail contacts to a backup file for safekeeping.

Dropbox finally adds Gmail Compose Integration

Dropbox for Gmail extension

The Dropbox for Gmail extension makes attaching and viewing files simpler and more powerful:

    • Easily send large files. Just click the Dropbox icon in the compose window, select files or folders, and click Insert Link(s). No waiting for uploads to complete, no file size limit, and no eating up space in your inbox.

 

    • Say goodbye to zip files. Attach folders and multiple files instantly, without having to zip files up.

 

    • Send files to anyone. Even if they don’t have Dropbox or the extension, recipients can see and download the attachments you send them.

 

  • Quickly save files sent to you. Add files to your Dropbox with a click so you can access them anywhere.

Get started today by downloading the Dropbox for Gmail extension from the Chrome Web Store. If you already have the extension installed, you’ll receive the update automatically. You’ll also notice that you can now select multiple files, as well as folders, when you share.