How to use Gmail labels to tame your inbox

So, you’ve got email, you say? Lots of it? More than you can possibly manage without losing the few metaphorical marbles still sloshing around in that soggy ol’ brain of yours?

I hear ya. In fact, I think we all can relate (even those of us whose brains are, erm, slightly less soggy). And I’m here to tell you: It doesn’t have to be so difficult.

Gmail has a variety of built-in tools for making your messages more manageable. Some of ’em are a little bit different from what you might be accustomed to using in more traditional email clients (here’s lookin’ at you, Outlook) — but if you take the time to figure out how they work, you might just be surprised at how effective they can be.

There’s no better example than Gmail’s label system. It’s a strange concept to wrap your head around at first, especially if you’re used to the more typical folder-based method of inbox organization, but here’s a little secret: Labels actually are folders, in a sense. That, however, is just one small part of their inbox-organizing power.

Think through these nine label-centric possibilities and get ready to see Gmail’s labels in a whole new light.

1. Use Gmail labels like super-folders for categorizing your email

First, the most basic Gmail label mindset to master: You can think of a label like a folder — but with an important twist: Instead of a message being placed into a label, the label is placed onto the message.