How to set up Gmail for maximum productivity

Learn how to set up Gmail correctly to get the most out of it.

How to set up Gmail for maximum productivity

In this article, I'll walk through my Gmail settings for maximum productivity. It will take you 10 minutes to set everything up and will save you double that every month.

General Settings

In the first tab, set up the following options:

  • Show 50 conversations per page -> for a better overview in the inbox view
  • Send cancellation period to 30 seconds -> Undoing emails have said me many times. Did anyone say 'forgot the attachment'?
  • Reply all -> default reply to everyone, so you don't forget anyone. Be mindful and remove people that don't need to receive the email though
  • Enable hover actions -> shows the option when you hover over an email
  • Show 'Send & Archive' -> it's faster to clear the inbox with this option enabled
  • Grammar & spelling -> personally, I don't use it too often, but it's helpful


Labels can be used for automations in Gmail (called filters). These are the labels I use:

  • Action for Ewoud -> tasks & todo's
  • FYI -> For Your Information. If I'm in CC or other less important emails, I check these once a week
  • Action for Soraya -> Soraya is my assistant and this is a label for her to keep track of things she's working on
  • Invoices -> skipped the inbox & sent to the bookkeeping software
  • Newsletter -> a lot of newsletters as inspiration end up in this folder. Newsletter skip the inbox and I read them whenever I'm looking for inspiration

Inbox Settings

I use the "Inbox Zero" method, so I don't use folders. This is a personal preference, feel free to use it. To minimise distractions, I don't use the reading pane split. I want to process 1 email at a time.

I'm skipping Accounts Settings in Gmail for privacy reasons.

Filter Settings Gmail

Filters are automation rules to trigger actions, e.g. to make emails go in folders or trigger other Gmail automations.

Advanced Settings

  • Auto-advance -> if you play the inbox zero game, you skip Inbox when archiving an email. Very helpful in my opinion
  • Templates ->

  • Hide unread message icon -> this helps to avoid distractions. Highly recommend this option.

Learn how to use shortcuts in Gmail

Control most of your inbox without using a mouse or trackpad. Press CMD + ? to see the help screen in Gmail.

Hide your inbox with Inbox when Ready

Most of the time, I need a document from my email to complete a task. I still get distracted when I see the emails in my inbox. "I'll just reply to 1 email". Before you know it, you've lost 30 minutes doing emails and have not worked on the task yet. To prevent this from happening, I use Inbox when Ready.

I have to click on a button to show my inbox. This way, I can still use the search bar to find the email I know for the task, but I won't get distracted.

The tool is called Inbox when Ready. Note: when you use the free version, a link will be added to all the emails you send out.

Final words

With the settings configured this way, you'll save a lot of time to work on the things that matter.

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