I’ve said it before but Gmail is just invaluable for VAs. One reason is that they have a whole section called Labs where you can find useful add-ons to make your inbox a lean, mean productivity machine. Some are simply handy, some are just for fun and others are absolute lifesavers that will make you bow down and worship at the alter of Google!
Use Gmail labs and increase your inbox productivity:
There are loads of labs to choose from so just pick the ones that you think will be most useful to the way you run your business or just try a few out and see if you like them.
Where to find labs in your Gmail settings:
* Note – because Google is always changing stuff, some of these are now under the ‘General’ tab instead of the labs tab.
These are my favourite labs:
1) Undo send
Whether I’ve forgotten to copy someone in or attach a document, being able to recall an email has saved my bacon and stopped me looking a div on many occasions. I have it so I have 10 seconds to suddenly go “oh no!” and recall the email. I think this one was so popular it’s now in the General tab instead of Labs.
2) Canned responses
A ‘canned response’ which is basically an email template. If you send a lot of similar emails then just write and save a ‘Canned Response’ so you don’t have to keep copying and pasting or writing a new one each time. You can edit the template whenever you like and tailor each message to suit.
This is a great one to use for prospecting, for sending messages to people you met networking, or generally just for emails that you send a lot.
3) Background send
This one means you don’t have to sit there impatiently waiting for a large email to go before moving on to something else or just getting on with your life in general.
4) Default text styling
This one is useful if you’d like your emails written in the text of your own choosing rather than using the standard Gmail font. Thi sone is now also in the General settings.
5) Refresh pop accounts
Essential if you import different email accounts and use Gmail as an account manager/email hub. It can be up to an hour before Gmail checks for emails to import, but if you click the circular refresh arrow at the top of your inbox then it checks for new emails straight away.
6) Calendar and docs gadgets
This is a small version of Google Docs and Calendar in the left sidebar so you can see the last few docs you used and open them straight from Gmail as well as seeing any appointments at a glance. This is handy if you use these two features quite a lot.
7) Inserting images
Instead of attaching an image you can put it straight into the email instead. I find this useful if I want to insert a screenshot for a client so they can see the information at a glance without having to open an attachment.
A few Gmail extras
Other good Gmail labs are: Google Docs Preview, Send and Archive, Google Maps Preview, one that lets you see what time zone an email has been sent from, a preview pane and the ability to create a document straight from an email.
You can also get Gmail Chrome extensions such as Boomerang which lets you schedule emails to send later, Inbox Pause which allows you to halt all incoming emails (except certain ones if you like) for a specific period of time, and Wisestamp where you can create gorgeous (paid for) email signatures with your social media accounts embedded.
There are also many other stand-alone apps that link in to Gmail such as Trello, Asana, QuickBooks, and Todoist. And the apps are changing and growing in number all the time.
It’s no secret that I love Gmail. I think it’s the best tool in a VA’s arsenal and knowing your way around it can only be a good thing.