image-Google-Inbox-for-iPhoneI’ve been using the new Google Inbox app on my phone and the web for several days now, and I think I’m sold on the idea. For the first couple of days, I was treating Inbox like another version of Gmail. I wanted to “mark as read” or “archive” things. But then I realized that was the wrong thought process.

What Inbox wants you to do is to think of incoming emails as action items — something you deal with now, something you deal with later, or something that needs no further action. Once you switch to that mindset, it lets you deal with your email in an efficient manner.

Inbox Definitions

  • Done – Emails that you are done with and don’t require follow up. If you need to access them later, you can access the Done tab or search for an email.
  • Snooze – This marks action on an email for later. You can specify a particular time, place or both.
  • Pinned – If you have an email that you don’t want moved out of the top of your inbox, you can pin it. It will stay there until you unpin it.
  • Reminders – These are associated with the Reminders that you create in Google Now. When you Snooze an email, you can create a Reminder along with it.
  • Bundles – Groups of emails with a similar theme. By default, Inbox creates Bundles for stuff like Purchases, Promotions, and Updates. You can also create your own Bundles (based on sender address or other factors).

Examples

  • Email invitation for dinner – Your friends send you an email asking to dinner next Friday. When you read it, you can reply immediately or you can Snooze it until 7pm this evening so that you can discuss it with your spouse. At 7pm, it would pop back in your inbox so you could reply.
  • Airline reservations – You book a flight on some airline and they email you your reservation confirmation. You could read the email and then just mark it as Done after you verify the info is correct. Google Now will also grab the details and remind you at the appropriate time to leave for the airport. If you need to refresh your memory about the flight, it will be there — bundled with other Travel emails. If the flight is coming up and you want to make sure you don’t forget the details, you can also Pin the email so that it stays fresh in your Inbox.
  • Store sales promotion – For a lot of us, we are getting more and more ads from companies that have our emails as a result of website signups or rewards cards. With Inbox, you can quickly just swipe away multiple emails from these sources. Of, if there is one that interests you, Inbox can Snooze the item until later (hmmm… That’s a cool toy for my niece, I’ll remind myself to buy it later for Christmas).

You can also use Inbox to present all emails in a particular bundle as they come in or at a certain time of day. So if you only want to deal with those promotional emails after work, you can tell Inbox to show them to you once per day at 7pm.

Another nicety of Inbox is that you can deal with emails in bulk. For example, you can open your Promotions bundle and browse all of those emails. After dealing with the select few emails you might want to deal with, you can then mark the entire Promotions bundle as Done.

Summary

Once you get used to dealing with each email as an actionable item (either now or in the future), Inbox’s usefulness becomes apparent. Your workflow dealing with email becomes more efficient and your inbox becomes better organized.