Using Labels to Keep a Clean Inbox

May 23, 2018

Using Labels to Keep a Clean Inbox

May 23, 2018
using labels to keep a clean inbox

As I wrap up my sixteenth year of teaching, I have been reflecting on all the things I do to lower my stress level. Because teaching can be very stressful, as you well know.

One of my biggest stressors is feeling overwhelmed by the sheer amount of things to manage: tons of paperwork, stacks of materials to organize, hundreds of papers to grade…and an constantly over-flowing email inbox. 
Here’s my biggest problem with school email: there are so many things that cannot be addressed immediately. 
I click through my mail, I read, and I think…
“I’ll tackle that one later.”
OR, “I can’t even THINK about this right now!”. 
OR, “I can’t delete this until next trimester when we go on that trip.”

And this list goes on and on.

Next thing I know, my inbox has 8,452 emails! 
(I didn’t check, but I’m fairly certain that’s an accurate number. Or even higher.)
I’ve tried to tackle this problem before, using a few tips that helped me keep on top of my mail. I shared those in this older post: Inbox Overflowing? Quick Tips to Put Your Mind at Ease. And those strategies definitely helped me keep on top of my mail. But there was still all those emails that couldn’t be addressed immediately.
So this year I turned to labels.
I am very fortunate my school uses gmail for our work email. Gmail has a very easy way to setup and color-code labels for your inbox. I’d like to share the steps with you here, even if you don’t use gmail at your school…hopefully you can use a labeling system as well!

To create my labels, I first thought of some categories that would cover all of the emails I tend to keep. IEPs and Parents came to mind first, as those are emails I haver to save for the entire school year. I decided to make labels for ELA and Math, as we tend to get assessment information and workshop emails I like to keep for those subject areas. Events is a good label for field trips, fundraisers, and assemblies. Students is a newer label I just created, as a place to store any Google docs my students share with me (in case I don’t have a chance to add them to my Drive at a particular time):

To create these labels, you will need to click under the More arrow, on the left-hand side of your inbox. Add the bottom of this sidebar, you will see Create new label:

Once you click on the new label, you will find a pop-up screen where you can enter the label name. I write mine in all caps for a clean look that stands out in my inbox:

(I don’t nest my labels since I only use six categories…nesting would be very helpful for any subcategories you want to create however).
You can see the new label I created for Report Cards (not actually a label I use, just an example here):

The label won’t be assigned a color unless you choose to add one. To do so, click on the right side of your new label and you will see an arrow and a menu appear. Choose Label Color:

You will see pre-selected label colors, as well as a place to add a custom color. I try to select some bright shades with a white font:

The custom colors have a bit more variety, but you can’t choose any html color you would like:
For the example, I chose a bright purple with a white text color: 
Once you have set up all of your labels, you are ready to get organized! As new emails come in, you can read them and discard…
Or you can click and drag an email you need to save to the label where you would like to store it:

When you click on a label in your sidebar, you will find all the emails you’ve saved under that label. If you open a particular email, you will see your color-coded label at the top:

If you’d like to remove a label, click on the right-hand side of the label and select Remove label:
And that’s it! Once you have all the labels you need, it will be easier to delete and store ALL of your email…so your inbox will become a calming sight for your teacher eyes:

Color-coded, digital organization in Google is always a huge stress-relief for me. I keep my grade book online and sort all subjects by color (it automatically averages too, which is a HUGE timesaver):

I also color-code my subjects and display all of the important information for my students each day, from materials needed to the steps to take during a class. Not only does it help me know exactly what I am doing in a given lesson, but it also keeps my students on the same page (and there are no more questions about what they need or what we are doing next!):

Do you like to organize your teaching digitally? Please share your tips with us!

No Comments

Leave a Reply

Instagram

  • Ok, I learned something else new in google docs that I LOVE...even more than default margins!⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀You can set a default font!!⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀So I tend to go with Century Gothic for everything in class...usually paired with a bold font for headings (Oswald is my favorite!). But every time I start a new doc, I have to take the time to make these font changes.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀Well, it turns out you can set a default font (and color) of your choice in two simple steps! It can only be one font...but at least it will save some time!⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀Here are the steps:⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀First, open a new doc and type a word with the font/color combo you would like as your default font. Highlight the text you just typed.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀Then, go to Format > Paragraph Styles > Normal Text > Update 'Normal text' to match.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀Then go back to the Format menu and choose Paragraph Styles > Options > Save as my default styles. (Swipe to see pics of all these steps if you prefer a visual!).⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀And that's it! Now when you open a new google doc, you will see your favorite font, all ready for you to start designing!⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀#googledocs #googledrive #technologyintheclassroom #iteachfourth #iteach4th #iteach456 #teachersfollowteachers #teachersofinstagram
  • Did you know that you can set default margins in Google Docs? I never realized until the other day!⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀It drives me CRAZY when I open up a new doc and there's all that extra space at the top! I'm constantly reconfiguring the margins when I make a new doc. But it turns out you can set your favorite margin settings (because everyone has favorite margin settings, right?) and set it as a default.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀And it’s very easy to do!⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀Go to File, then Page Setup. Enter the margins you would like, then click the "Set as Default" button.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀And that's it!⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀Your next docs will open with this new setting from now on! Such a time-saver!⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀(Am I the only one who didn't know this?) 😂⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀#googledocs #googledrive #technologyintheclassroom #iteachfourth #iteach4th #iteach456 #teachersfollowteachers #teachersofinstagram
  • "This is so fun!" I got to hear some of my favorite words over and over during math today. And it was all thanks to  @adventuresofmssmith_ and @teachinginroom6!⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀These clever ladies shared an awesome idea for solving some mundane math problems (multi-digit multiplication and long division review for us today) while building index card towers!⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀And the setup was so easy.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀I made 30 review problems and numbered the cards. Then I highlighted the cards with a quick swipe to color code them (thanks to @teachinginroom6 for the color-coding idea!). The simpler problems were pink and could earn one index card when solved correctly. The more complex problems were yellow and could earn two index cards...and the most difficult problems were green and worth three index cards.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀My students worked in small groups and showed me their cards as they solved them. Some showed a couple of cards at a time, others solved everything first before "cashing in" (as they called it 😂).⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀They were completely engaged and working as teams for the whole math block...it was great! And they are already asking when we can do this again.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀#math #iteachmath #multiplication #division #iteachfourth #iteach4th #iteach456 #teachersfollowteachers #teachersofinstagram
  • How many field trips does your class go on each year?⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀We go on four (five some years 😬) and field trip season is just starting up now!⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀I like to keep a checklist of our different trips to keep track of forms, money, and chaperones. I color-code each trip with a different flair pen if the trips are back-to-back (we are visiting our state capital this week and heading to the ymca for water safety next week!).⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀This checklist is from my Instant Checklists resource...it has a hundred lists, ready to go, just enter your students’ names once. Please click the link in my profile if you’d like to see more! (http://bit.ly/instantchecklists)⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀Are you going on a field trip soon?⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀#classroommanagement #classroomorganization #iteachfourth #iteach4th #iteach456 #tpt #teacherspayteachers #teachersfollowteachers #teachersofinstagram
  • I have lost my tv remote about 45,000 times this year. I think it’s due to my compulsive paper stacking tendencies.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀But I found a solution!⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀I got this awesome desktop organizer to hold my remote (and flair pens, phone, stickies, nurse notes...all of the important things!) I found it on Amazon...it’s a STORi desktop organizer and I ❤️ it!!⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀#tryingtostayorganized #classroomorganization #iteachfourth #iteach4th #iteach456 #teachersfollowteachers #teachersofinstagram
  • One of our favorite seating areas...also known as the place I like to eat lunch every day when my students are in the cafeteria 😂⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀The chairs and table were donated to our class. Both are by Flash Furniture on Amazon.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀This is the first year I’ve had a cafe height table and we love it!! Do you have a cafe table in class?⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀#flexibleseating #classroomdecor #iteachfourth #iteach456 #iteach4th #teachersfollowteachers #teachersofinstagram

Follow @ladybugsteacherfiles

×