Tech Tools for Nurses: Become a Gmail Ninja
The wisdom of using Gmail vs. other e-mail services can be and has been debated since the first Gmail beta came out years ago, so I will skip all that and make an executive decision to tell you that I think Gmail is no worse than any other services and is better than most. If you have any job that necessitates your having constant access to your e-mail, Gmail can make your life a lot easier. Here’s how.
- You can forward or bounce e-mail from school or work to your personal Gmail account, yet have a Gmail account profile that makes it looks as if you responded from the original account. That way you don’t have to log in to multiple places to check your e-mail.
- You can set up complicated filters (they are easy to set up but do complicated things) to make sure that “fluff” e-mail goes to a label (think of Gmail labels as folders) that you check only once in a while. For example, I don’t need to know what the cafeteria specials are at work every day, but they go to my work e-mail anyway. With a Gmail bounce/filter system set up, I never have to deal with them.
- If you’re forwarding everything to Gmail, you are in luck if you ever need to find an e-mail again. Gmail quietly archives everything away and searches it all. Quickly. No more searching through multiple e-mail accounts to find that confirmation for your NCLEX date.
Here’s how to get started.
- Figure out how to bounce your e-mail from school or work to your Gmail account. It has to be done from the other account, and you may need a geek to figure out it for you. Generally it involves a filter. You’ll want a “bounce” or a “redirect” instead of a “forward” to avoid all the frontmatter and “>” symbols before your e-mail.
- Log in to your Gmail account (get one if you don’t have one at http://gmail.com, and find your settings under the wheel at the top right corner of your inbox screen. (None of this will work from a client; you have to set it up from the Web interface.)
- Under Settings, go to Accounts and Import. Pick “Add another e-mail address you own,” add the e-mail address(es), and choose the “Reply from the same address the message was sent to” button.” If you’re not able to bounce messages from your other account, you can have Gmail pull them in with the POP3 option, but use that only if you can’t get a bounce to work. These options are what allow you to get all your e-mail through Gmail but have it look as though you’re checking external accounts and responding from there. Your e-mail will still be in the other accounts unless you take extra steps to delete it.
- Now you will get your Gmail e-mail and e-mail from all the accounts you’re sucking into it, and that’s no good, so set up a filter (from the same Settings screen, pick “Filters”). Google provides powerful and complicated search operators. Here’s the one I use for work:
E-mails from any address at my work domain (*mywork.org) except for all the people in the curly braces (because I need to get e-mails from my bosses, the director of nursing, and so on) go to a Gmail label called “Bulk work.” They bypass the inbox without passing Go or collecting $200, but they never go to spam. And because I use the setup described previously with responding from the account from which the e-mail arrived, if I reply to my boss it appears I used my hospital e-mail account.
These tricks should get you started. Once you consolidate e-mail accounts and never have to delete dozens of e-mails a day that do not apply to you, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without doing this.
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