5 simple tips to turn your Gmail into a Powerful Collaboration Tool

By Niraj

When we're emailing, essentially, we're collaborating with our colleagues, customers, partners or vendors. Email is the de facto standard when it comes to collaboration tools. We use email all the time to request our colleagues to send something to us, do a task, share important information or update the status on a task.

Gmail's labels and filters, with a little bit of effort in setting things up, can help you and your team collaborate in a simple, intuitive and agile manner. Here are some quick tips that help you transform your Gmail into a collaboration powerhouse:

1. Use the subject line to assign tasks

When you are writing to a colleague to do a task, start the subject of the email with Task:Jack, where Jack is the name of your colleague. So, when you want Jack to prepare a proposal for Sean, write to Jack with the subject "Task:Jack Prepare proposal for Sean". Everyone who receives the email immediately knows who is responsible for it.

2. Use Gmail filters and labels to easily file tasks assigned to team members

When you are collaborating with, say, Jack and Alan on a project using email, everyone can create some Gmail filters and labels to automatically file emails that contain tasks under appropriate labels.

All you needs to do is create three Gmail filters to do this. Create a filter that filters all emails with the subject "Task:Jack" and apply the label "Task:Jack" to them, and do the same for emails with tasks assigned to Alan and yourself. Skip the inbox for tasks not assigned to you so they don't clutter your inbox.

Now you can view tasks assigned to anyone by just going to the appropriate Gmail label!


3. Create another another label and filter for tasks that are done

When you finish a task assigned to you, just respond to an email including "== Task_Done ==" as a part of the message. In all your inboxes, create another filter that catches all emails with the label "== Task_Done ==", and adds another label called "Status: Done" to the email.

Now you can easily view tasks assigned to any of your team-mates, and also see which ones are already done.

4. Now, keep everyone in CC!

Yes, now that all of you have the right filters and labels created, go ahead and keep everyone in CC so that everyone has the complete picture about the project in their inboxes. As long as your filters are making sure only tasks assigned to you hit your inbox, you'll keep your inbox absolutely clutter-free and actionable. In addition to that, seeing all communication about the project is as simple as visiting the labels defined above.

5. Use GrexIt

GrexIt helps you share gmail labels and create a shared email repository  from your Google Apps email easily. It can help you set up all of the above very easily, and do a lot more right out of your email inboxes.

Got more ideas? Look forward to the comments.

About the author:

Niraj is the Founder of Hiver. Hiver turns Gmail into a powerful collaboration tool by letting you share your Gmail labels. When not working at Hiver on programming or customer support, Niraj likes to play guitar. Niraj can be reached on Twitter at nirajr.


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