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First-off I need to say that I stopped doing the “email first thing in the morning” a long time ago.

I have a very strict morning ritual that I refuse to give up for anything short of the world coming to an end. In fact, if the world were going to end, I’d probably still do it… I wanna meet the apocalypse with a clear, focused mind.

So if you haven’t made that commitment yet, make that your first priority.

Once you’ve got that down, set a schedule for checking email. Two or three times a day, max, if you can manage it. I still need to hop on relatively early in the morning because some of my employees get started pretty early East Coast time and I don’t want to have them waiting just because of a few time zones.

But, so far, this is probably stuff you’ve already heard before. If you have, that’s because it works. If you haven’t… boy are you in for a surprise when you see how many hours you can claim back.

But I still had one problem…

If you’re on GMail, like I am, you’ve probably got those “extra tabs” setup. You know what I mean… Social, Promotions and Updates (there’s also one for Forums, which I don’t have turned on).

The bugger is that those little tabs light up and show me how many new, enticing messages I have waiting for me!

Now I consider myself a pretty disciplined person. But I may have a pretty large, developed prefrontal cortex, but that Monkey Brain is still there ready to be distracted by something shiny.

So here’s the new tweak that changed everything for me…

First, I have to give credit where credit is due. I’ve been looking for this solution for a couple of years and never found the right answer. But a recent search turned up the beginnings of the answer in a GMail Help Forum:!topic/gmail/X1ussfVSgGc

It’ll give you the idea, but it doesn’t go into all the detail on how to do this for all your tabs.

So here it is in detail:

You’ll need to do this for each of the tabs you want it to affect.

  1. Go up to the Search field and type in one of these:
    • category:promotions
    • category:updates
    • category:social
  2. Once the results come back, click the down-arrow on the right side of the search box (next to the magnifying glass button… it’s sometimes hard to see)
  3. Click Create a filter with this search >> in the lower-right corner
  4. Pick Mark as read
  5. Click the Create Filter button at the bottom


No more pesky notifications when you’ve got new notices from Facebook… or stuff you probably don’t need to buy… or the most recent blog post from a site you never visit (HINT: why not just Unsubscribe?).

One caveat

If there are any emails that normally end up in one of those tabs, but that you DO need to see when it comes in, make sure you drag it over to your Primary tab and tell GMail that you always want it put in your Primary tab.

The Upshot

I gotta tell you… this dangerously cool stuff. I can easily go days without even thinking about looking at what’s on those tabs.

And… when I do go in, there are usually enough that I get a little crabby and just delete a bunch of them en masse.

Extra bonus!

More time saved!