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Google Apps Tips: Priority Inbox

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We are currently in the midst of our Technology Planning for Nonprofits series, and this month (April) our focus is on Collaboration & Productivity: spend time on what matters. So far we've hosted a Toronto Net Tuesday where we heard about the experiences of Timeraiser and Charity Village, and we wrote an article about SharePoint 2010, a popular collaboration tool to consider.

One of the tools that we use internally at TechSoup Canada to improve our collaboration and productivity is Google Apps. It's certainly not the only option but we like it because it is great for collaboration, hosts our email, integrates with other tools we use and is free (for organizations with less than 50 people). To help your nonprofit decide if Google Apps is right for you and learn about using it in your organization, we are:

Today's Google Apps tip is about Priority Inbox, a feature of Gmail that helps you get to the important email right away. Google says:

"Email is great, except when there’s too much of it. Priority Inbox automatically identifies your important email and separates it out from everything else, so you can focus on what really matters."

You can also view a video describing how Priority Inbox can help you.

Ready to try it out? (Don't worry, there's no risk since you can always turn off Priority Inbox if you don't like it.) Go into your Gmail Settings to the Priority Inbox tab:

Start with choosing "Show Priority Inbox" at the bottom and Save - you can come back later and play around with the other settings once you're more comfortable with it.

Now if you go back to your inbox, you will see that there is a new section in your inbox called Priority Inbox. Gmail will put emails there that it thinks are important to you. If it's wrong, or if it misses an email that actually is important, you can train it with the plus and minus buttons. Also, Gmail will observe how you read email and over time it will improve. For those who want more details, you can read here about how Priority Inbox works.

So far I've found that Priority Inbox is pretty good at identifying important email. I'm still working on remembering to star important emails that I'm not going to reply to right away, so that they go into a separate "Starred" section for follow up. My impression is that the more email you get, the more this feature will be useful for you. Since I use filters as well, I have less email in my inbox to begin with, however I find the Priority Inbox is still worthwile. My main suggestion to those trying it out is to, remember to give it a bit of time - expect to wait a few days at least before you start seeing results. 

For more information on Priority Inbox, see Google's help centre.