As the pandemic forced millions of people to work from home, many of us found ourselves spending more time in video meetings and in our inboxes as a way to bridge the distance from our colleagues. When the workplace became the living room or the makeshift home office, and as professional and personal responsibilities sometimes collided, we had to find new ways to manage time and attention and to sustain human connection.
When it comes to work emails during the pandemic, we were sending more of them, to more recipients, and we often sent them outside of normal business hours. A study conducted by the Organizational Behavior Unit of Harvard Business School assessed email statistics eight weeks before the start of the pandemic-related lockdowns and eight weeks after. The study concluded that after lockdowns, employees sent 5.2% more emails a day, emails had 2.9% more recipients, and about 8.3% more emails were sent after business hours.
Many of the latest Google Workspace features are designed to help people save time, find focus, and manage tasks more efficiently, whether it’s with smarter emails, writing suggestions, Google Assistant, segmentable working hours, or predictive search. These features combine to save the equivalent of a full working month every year, per person, so that you can spend more time on what matters instead of managing tools.
With that in mind, let’s take a deeper look at how Gmail can help you better manage time and attention.
1. Use dynamic email to help recipients complete tasks directly inside an email message. With the new dynamic email support in Gmail, you can easily send and receive emails that enable the reader to take action directly from within the message. This removes the burden of opening multiple documents and tabs. Email recipients can grant access to Drive files, respond to or resolve comments in Docs, Slides, or Sheets, and RSVP to events—all without leaving the message. Learn more.
2. Stay productive, even when you’re offline. Gmail Offline lets you read, reply, delete, and search your Gmail messages when you’re not connected to the internet. Once you set it up, an outbox will appear in the left panel. When a connection later becomes available, Gmail will automatically send the messages from your outbox, and download any new messages to your inbox. This is great for those working on the frontlines who need to stay productive and informed, even when they’re offline.
3. Get organized and prioritize your work with Tasks in Gmail. This feature allows you to easily convert emails into tasks with just one click. You can create due dates that will automatically appear in your calendar, and check tasks off as you complete them. Baked directly into the side panel, you can create, view and manage your task lists without leaving Gmail.
4. Spend time innovating, not writing emails. Gmail’s template functionality lets you create standardized email messages that can be edited and sent out to different recipients in a matter of seconds. If this feature sounds appealing, check out Smart Reply and Smart Compose to learn more ways to write and reply to emails faster.
5. Get search results faster in Gmail. Search chips help you find what you’re looking for in Gmail faster, without needing to sort through irrelevant results or use search operators (e.g., from: firstname.lastname@example.org). For example, you can search a colleague’s name and further narrow your results by selecting search chips like attachment type (Doc, Sheet, PDF, etc.) or a specific timeframe. You can even exclude specific keywords and calendar invites from your results. You can also use search chips to search your Google Chat history, directly from within Gmail. To use search chips, all you need to do is type in a Gmail search, click on the search filter chips below the search box and Gmail will take care of the rest.
6. Tune out the irrelevant with the Gmail mute feature. Because we’ve all found ourselves trapped in unnecessary email threads, we created the Gmail Mute feature. With two clicks, you can mute email threads that aren’t relevant or that you no longer wish to follow. All future responses to that thread will now be automatically muted so you can focus your attention elsewhere. If you decide to rejoin the conversation, you can unmute the email thread just as easily.
If you want to learn more about how to save time and work smarter in Google Workspace, subscribe to our YouTube channel, where you can get the latest tips and tricks from Laura Mae Martin, Google’s productivity advisor. You can also check out Google Workspace keyboard shortcuts and more in the Google Workspace learning center.