4 Gmail Tricks That Can Save Your Weekend – and Your Job

Photo (cc) by Ed Yourdon

Does anybody really work 9 to 5 anymore? Not many, according to new research.

A survey by staffing company Right Management points out that technology is still hurtling us toward a 24/7 work week. They found that 63 percent of employees get work-related emails from the boss over the weekend – and were expected to respond. Over half of that group said it happened often.

“It’s now taken for granted that everyone has to check their work email during the weekend,” says Douglas Matthews, Right Management president.

Fortunately for everyone who has a life – and Gmail – there are a few easy tricks to minimize the impact weekend emails have on your job.

1. Mail Goggles

Some of us like to party on the weekend. If that involves alcohol, Gmail can help you avoid regrettable emails with this feature. Once enabled, you set a schedule for when you want Google to watch your back – which it does by making you solve simple math problems and asking if you’re sure you want to send that email before it goes out.

How to get it: Go to “Mail settings” in Gmail by clicking on the gear icon in the upper right. Click on the “Labs” tab, search for “Mail Goggles,” and check the enable box. Then go to the “General” tab, where you can set the times and days you want Gmail to check on you. And if your math skills surpass your insobriety, there’s an option to raise the difficulty too.

2. Undo Send

If you happen to send a regrettable email while sober, there’s one last line of defense you can enable: the undo button. But be warned you only have a maximum of 30 seconds to use it – and only 10 seconds by default.

How to get it: Go to the “Labs” tab as described above and look for “Undo Send.” Click to enable and head over to the “General” tab. You should see a section for “Undo Send” options, where you can set the time limit for clicking “undo” from 5 to 30 seconds. Now, right after you click to send an email and your inbox comes up, at the top you’ll see a box that says, “Your message has been sent,” with options to undo or view the message. Click anywhere but “Undo” and the option will disappear.

3. Filters and Labels

Do you get a lot of email on the weekend, and tend to ignore it all until Monday? Gmail can make sure important messages stick out at a glance in a few ways – and one of the most useful is with labels.

Labels are what they sound like: They mark certain emails with a labeled, colored box next to the subject line. You can decide what kind of emails will get marked that way before they come in. After you set it up, it’s automatic.

How to get it: Go to “Mail settings” and the “Filters” tab. Click “Create a new filter,” and you’ll see some options including filters based on who the message comes from and what words are used in the email. Easiest way to do this: Put your boss’s email address in the “from” field. (You can list multiple addresses by putting a comma in between them.) Click “Next Step,” and check the box “Apply the label.” In the dropdown box to the right of that, click “New Label” and name it something short like “Boss.” Click “Create” to close that box, then “Create filter” to finish up.

Now you should see the label listed in the left column under your folders (Inbox, Sent Mail, etc.) with a colored box next to it. Click that box and you can customize the colors – we recommend bright red for this one. Now whenever the boss emails you, you’ll see the red alert without having to read a word.

4. Auto-responses

If you know you’re going to be out of town or away from the computer for the weekend, you can make sure the boss doesn’t chew you out for not responding. Anybody who sends you an email when it’s enabled will get an automatic reply saying you’re out of town and will reply Monday, or whenever you want.

How to get it: It’s on the “General” tab near the bottom, called “Vacation responder.” Check the box to turn it on, and tell it when to start and what to say. And don’t worry about spamming the boss’ inbox with several automatic replies – he’ll only get an auto response to the first message sent and once every four days.

Of course, responding to your boss promptly on the weekends shows dedication, and might be part of Getting the Raise you Deserve.

While this post concerns Gmail, that’s not the only game in town: Yahoo, MSN Hotmail, and tons of others are out there, each with their own features that might help you accomplish the same things. So if you’re a user of one of these other services and have tips on how to set up similar email safeguards, let us hear from you below, or better yet on our Facebook page. Workers of the world unite!

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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