My school district recently entered the Google ecosystem, including switching our e-mail service to Gmail. I have been using Gmail for my personal e-mail for years, and I was very happy to hear about the switch. One of the features that I love most is Gmail’s “Archive” button, which allows me to archive e-mail instead of deleting it, clearing my inbox without getting rid of important e-mails. This one feature provides big advantages when it comes to managing e-mail.
Prior to the switch to Gmail, we accessed e-mail on our district’s server with Microsoft Outlook, and I kept important e-mails in folders. For example, I would move e-mails with the week’s lunch menu to a folder called “Cafeteria Menu,” and I would put lists of students excused for field trips in another folder called “Excused Lists.” The many folders I created made it easy enough to find important e-mails, and it helped to avoid the automatic purging of e-mails my district conducted quite often.
However, I have abandoned the use of labels and folders almost completely, since I archive every e-mail I receive after I have replied to it or processed it in some other way. Google provides a large amount of storage space for each user, so archived e-mails are generally available for years. For example, I have archived every e-mail in my personal Gmail account over the past seven years, and I am only at 45% of my usage allotment. I am not sure how much space we are given with our district Gmail accounts, but I am confident that e-mails will be available for a long time to come. Of course, if you need certain e-mails for legal purposes, you should always store a backup in a safe place.
Instead of spending time labelling my e-mails, I just archive everything and use the search function (at the top of the Gmail web interface) to find them. For example, if I am looking for an e-mail with the week’s meals from the cafeteria, I just type either the word “menu” or the name of our cafeteria manager. If I need to find an e-mail regarding a particular student, I just search using that student’s name. Most of the time, I find what I am looking for with this simple search. If not, another word or two in the search box always gets me there.
Gmail’s “Archive” button and search capability have saved me tons of time. Try using the “Archive” button to keep your inbox clear and let me know how it goes!
Here is a link to Google’s information on archiving e-mails: https://support.google.com/mail/answer/6576?hl=en