Let me start off with sharing a personal tale with which you might just relate. I remember when I was younger and there was no such thing as the internet except in theoretical papers and some rudimentary expressions on college campuses and government tech circles. Back in the days when I lived under my parents’ roof I had little to no worries. I paid no bills, I did little work (except the occasional schoolwork when I could muster up some energy to get to it) and climbing trees and riding my bike were top priorities. In those days when mail came I was excited! It meant that someone was thinking of me. It was far and few between, but when it did come I knew that an individual was reaching out to me because they wanted to say hi.

Nowadays I am grown up and the occasional letter still comes, but many, I mean MANY more are from bill collectors and advertisers who want something and it’s typically not to make me smile. Enter email. Now the same type of thing is happening with email to me. I find my inbox filled with marketing message. It probably doesn’t help that I’m impulsive when it comes to registering for those offers. But still, if you are like me, you have an inbox filled with stuff to sift through.

So you think you know email do ya? Well, lemme share with you two quick tips to help you make your online college experience more productive and less of a headache. This is for all you Gmailers out there. Other email services may have one or two of these sweet features, but not all of them, so you may want to consider making a switcheroo if these sound like cool tips to you.

Filtering. When an email lands in your inbox you and you anticipate receiving more of the same kind, like from your stats professor, you can have Gmail automatically put a label on them, archive them or forward them to another email address. By clicking on down arrow next to the “Reply” button at the top right of a displayed message you’ll see several options. Click on the “Filter messages like these” option to auto label them. You can create a filter all emails from a specific email address or domain name, all emails with a specific subject line or just ones that contain certain words. This will help you quickly spot important messages from your school, classmates or instructors. If you like to keep your box clean, you can set them to go straight to the archive so when you want to check for school messages you just click on the label you’ve created for it. Have fun and play around. Most email programs should have filtering options.

Custom keyboard shortcuts. Are you a computer whiz? Do you like shortcuts? Have you gotten used to saving your work often because you’ve lost several files already in the school’s computer lab? Well, with the Google Lab’s Custom Keyword Shortcuts tweak you can create shortcuts for common tasks like composing an email, replying and marking an email as read.

There are lots of ways to make email work for you and as a student it’s best if you create some ways to simplify your email so you can be productive and not get off course when in your inbox.

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