Email market share is growing enormously for Gmail, so much so that it is on track out become the #2 email service in the world by next year (Yahoo remains a strong #1 thus far). What is really different with Gmail compared to other email services is its constant evolution. There are new features always being added, some of which really put other email services to shame. It’s for this very reason that I switched from Outlook to Gmail to manage all my emails for my company. You can read more about it in my article Email Management Via Gmail. I recently took the time to apply a multitude of those Gmail “Labs” to see how powerful it can truly make your email management. Needless to say, you can completely turn your Gmail account into your main command center for your business! Here are some of my favorite Labs which I think are essential to getting the most out of your Gmail account:
Offline. What happens when you are on the phone with a client and your internet stops working? Service may be down or your network router might need a quick reboot. Either way, you cannot waste those precious minutes with a client on the phone trying to resolve your internet problem. With this Offline feature, you can access your email account and archives even when not connected to the Web. Say goodbye to these awkward moments and provide a higher level of service to your customers! This is also very helpful on the go in moments where you cannot find a connection. With this feature, you can still get work done.
Tasks. I have written before about the power of Google Calendar and all of its cool features. Now, you can incorporate a task list, that superposes over your calendar, as well as accessible from within your Gmail account. See everything that you need to get done at a glance. You can also create multiple lists, and this is where you can pretty much use this feature along with the calendar as a project management tool. Each list has its tasks, all ordered by due date and description.
Message Translation. INeedMotivation.com is a global brand. We have clients and visitors from all countries around the world. It happens quite frequently to receive inquiries in other languages. This usually occurs due to people using a translation feature that makes our site pages into their native language. I believe in servicing every single client equally, and it used to really bother me when I couldn’t understand some of these inquiries. Now with this Gmail feature, you can easily have incoming messages translated so that you can more easily understand the messages. Of course the translation is not perfect, but it’s a great tool to have to break the barrier of communication among different languages.
Quick Links. I was coaching this one client on a regular basis and needed to access our email communications on the spot when he would be calling me. Searching through the archives, although very quick, wasn’t efficient enough. With Quick Links, you can assign any Gmail based URL a particular link that you can access with one click from your list of frequent quick links. Huge time saver, which again provides better service to your clients!
Email Addict. If you find yourself going over your emails too frequently, such as checking every 2 minutes for some new messages, then you definitely need this feature. It adds a “take a break” link at the top of your Gmail account, and by clicking on it, it blocks your account for 15 minutes. Walk away, go get a coffee, take a breather outside, and enjoy your 15 minutes! Ideally, make it a habit to use this feature multiple times a day 😉
Google Talk. All Gmail accounts come with this instant messaging program. I find it really powerful to be able to use it and stay in touch with my important clients, as well as business partners simply by logging into my email account. No need to open multiple programs, all is under one roof. You can archive your chats which are then searchable, so you can be certain that you do not lose any info. If you are quoting prices and making business deals, you also have written proofs of the conversations you had. I use the Right Side Chat feature to move the chat box to the right, as you can then see everything without scrolling down.
Canned Responses. One thing that I found that was missing from Gmail that was great to have in Outlook was the multiple signature option. I have many different email accounts and each one has a slightly different signature. With Canned Responses, you can use it to save all your different signatures, and then insert them in your messages whenever needed. Just like that, you have the same multiple signature option as in Outlook! Of course, you can also use this feature to email common messages that are repetitive.
Google Docs. I recently started using the Google version of Microsoft Office, and I must say, I am really liking it! Word and Excel are pretty much the same, but the beauty of it is that it is all accessible online via your Gmail account. By adding the Google Docs Lab, you have a list of your most recently used documents, as well as a search feature. You can easily share these documents with anyone, either via email or through chats. No more need to put documents on USB keys (I once lost a USB key, and this can be disastrous), you can have your most important documents at your fingertips at all times.
Send & Archive. One thing that I found annoying about Gmail was the repetitive task of clicking on archiving after having sent an email. I guess I wasn’t alone in thinking this, as now with this feature, you can save many clicks. Think about how many emails you send per day. If you can save a click or two on each one of those emails, it’s a big deal. With this Lab, you can automatically archive an email conversation as you are sending your reply. Less clicking, and a cleaner inbox!
Undo Send. Ever sent an email too quickly? I think we have all done this tons of times! Instead of having to send duplicate emails with corrections, now you have the ability to turn back the clock so to speak, and undo the damage before it’s too late! This will give you a moment to stop the email from being sent out completely. You can take it one step further and use Mail Goggles where you will have to compute a mathematical equation before sending out the email. Can be useful when you need to reflect on what you just wrote! Useful Lab, with less regrets later on 🙂
Gmail offers many bells and whistles with their Labs. I know that previously, I was overwhelmed by all of them, and didn’t know where to start with them. I hope this post can be useful for all you Gmail users out there to get the most out of your email account and boost up your productivity. It’s made a big difference in the way I manage my business, my emails, and my tasks. These features become very powerful once you combine them with the other features. The result is a more organized account where every part has its purpose fully determined.