May 26, 2021

Agent Email Productivity: 5 Steps to Gmail Inbox Zero for Real Estate

Ashley Walsh
Ashley Walsh

Whether you're sending contracts back and forth through cyberspace, keeping up with listings, or answering questions from buyers, sellers, and vendors, real estate email serves as your communication lifeline. In fact, if you're like most Realtors, much of your daily activity revolves around email.

But this reliance on email also means that it doesn't take long to get inundated, especially when you're constantly on the go. Reading messages while you're out and about makes it just that much more difficult to stay organized... but keeping on top of everything is critical. When your inbox is backed up, it's all too easy to miss an email or, worse, risk a contract expiring and falling through. 

Fortunately, there are solutions to this email conundrum. With so many agents using Gmail for real estate, we've discovered some best practices that'll help you get organized. Read on for five ways to boost your email productivity and achieve Gmail inbox zero.

1. Gmail Labels

When emails are flying back and forth, it's easy to lose one (or more) in the shuffle. A neat little Gmail feature called "Labels" can bring order to your inbox.

Labels function just like folders, allowing you to group and store emails in categories of your choosing. Setting up and using labels is simple. Here's how to create a label

  1. While signed in to your Gmail account, click on the gear icon, choose "Settings" and click on "Labels" (if you're on a mobile device, click on three horizontal bars in the upper left of your screen)
  2. Click on "Create New Label" and a pop-up box will open
  3. Enter a name for the label; if you want, you can nest labels within other labels
  4. Click "Create" and the new label will appear to the left of your inbox

Set up your labels however you choose. It might make sense to create one for each property, by clients' names, or by the vendor. You can even assign colors to labels; hover over a label name and three dots will appear to the right. Click on the dots and an option to color-code your label will appear.

Once you've created a series of labels, it's easy to organize your emails. From your inbox, simply drag each message into the correct label. You can move multiple messages at once by selecting the checkboxes beside the messages, then dragging them into labels. You can also select a message, right-click and use the "Move-to" option in the drop-down box.

2. Todoist by Google

 When you've got so many emails to keep up with, adding them all to your calendar simply isn't a practical solution. Fortunately, there's an app just to keep you on top of your emails: Todoist

Todoist treats your emails as tasks, so you can take action when you need to. You can associate due dates, deadlines, reminders, and priorities to each message so they don't get lost in the shuffle. Best of all, once you've completed your task, you can check it off your to-do list from inside your Gmail inbox.

The Todoist app is available for mobile and desktop devices and includes functions such as:

  • Adding priority levels to tasks
  • Capturing and organizing tasks
  • Setting reminders and due dates, including recurring tasks
  • Assigning tasks to others for collaborative efforts
  • Tracking progress and productivity

3. Skip the Inbox with Filters

If you receive emails that are important enough to keep for your records but not important enough to need to read immediately — receipts, auto-pay notifications, and e-bills, we're talking to you — here's some good news: You can skip the in-box entirely by setting up filters.

Filtering certain types of messages before they hit (and clutter up) your inbox is like using an automatic filing system. Those messages will still be accessible when you need them, but you won't have to sort through them every time you open your email. 

Sign in to your Gmail account and click the caret (downward-facing triangle) in the search bar. A box will open that asks you to input some search criteria. Use the available fields to target messages you want to keep but not necessarily read, such as invoices, receipts, auto-pay messages, and the like. 

Now, look at the bottom of the box. Next to the "Search" button, you'll see a grayed-out "Create Filter" link. Choose this, and a list of options will come up. Pick the options you want and hit the  "Create Filter" again. 

The filter feature will cut down on the number of messages taking up valuable real estate in your inbox.

4. Archive Messages You Don't Need Now

Many agents avoid deleting real estate email messages, just in case they might need them at a later time. This means those messages languish in your in-box, taking up space and clogging up the works. 

While filters can take care of regularly incoming messages, what about all those one-offs that you may need in the future, but really don't need to see all the time? Use Gmail's archive feature to safely store them for later. 

Archiving removes messages from your inbox without deleting them. And don't worry: You can still search archived messages, so you don't need to worry about losing a specific message.

To archive, simply select a message and find the icon that looks like a file folder with a downward-pointing arrow in it. Click the icon and boom! Your message is archived. 

If you want to find it again, do a search. You can also open the "All Mail" label (found on the left of your inbox under "More") where archived messages live.

5. Turn On Notifications and Nudges

If you really, really don't want to miss any emails, turn on your "Desktop Notifications" feature. Every time a new message hits your mailbox, a notification will pop up on your screen. 

You can choose to receive a notification for all messages, or just those filtered as "Important." Here's how to turn on notifications:

  • Click on the gear icon ("Settings") at the top of your inbox
  • Go to "General Settings"
  • Go to "Desktop Notifications" and click on the option you prefer

Desktop notifications can get a bit overwhelming, so you may want to simply turn on the "Nudge" feature. Also found under "General Settings," turning this feature on means you'll receive a reminder if you haven't sent or received a reply.

You can turn on Nudges for incoming or outgoing emails. It's an easy, informal way to remind yourself to follow up. 

Gmail for real estate offers a number of ways to get and stay organized. These tips will help you manage your email and get to Gmail inbox zero in no time!

At a loss for words? Browse our gallery of free real estate email examples

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