Using styles to stay organized
By Devin Nix
Last May, ITS rolled out NYU Google Apps for Education, a rich set of web-based applications to facilitate research, teaching, learning, collaboration, and University business. New features continue to be released on a regular basis—read on for a few tips and tricks to help you stay organized and on time with NYU E-mail, Calendar, and other NYU Google Apps.
Cutting your clutter with inbox styles
Are you struggling to keep your inbox organized? NYU E-mail, based on the infrastructure of Google’s Gmail, has benefited from a new feature that makes staying on top of your messages easier than ever. “Inbox styles” allow you to choose from five predefined inbox setups: Classic, Important, Unread, Starred, and Priority. Each style provides a slightly different arrangement of your inbox to suit your workflow and preferences.
Classic is the default inbox style, where messages are listed chronologically regardless of their importance or read/unread status. Chances are you are quite familiar with this arrangement.
With the Unread style selected, your unread e-mail will be listed in a separate, configurable section at the top of your inbox, followed by another section containing the rest of your messages.
By enabling the Important inbox style, messages that have been flagged as important (whether read or unread) are listed first, followed by regular messages.
NYU E-mail is designed to automatically recognize certain words used in the subject and body of a message, as well as the people involved in a message, to determine if a message is likely to be considered important. If deemed important, a yellow icon appears next to the subject line. You can manually mark and unmark messages as important by clicking this icon. As time goes on, NYU E-mail will get better at predicting what messages you think are important and make adjustments to how it classifies your e-mail.
If you select the Starred inbox style, messages that you have marked with a star will be listed first, followed by the rest of your e-mail. To star a message, simply click the star icon. From your inbox, the star icon appears to the left of the subject. In an open message, the star icon is located next to the message timestamp in the upper-right corner of the message.
The Priority Inbox borrows a bit from each of the inbox styles listed above. When this arrangement is enabled, your inbox will be divided into up to five parts: important, unread, starred (or some combination thereof), and everything else.
Selecting an inbox style
To select an inbox style, access your mail settings by clicking the button in the upper-right corner that looks like a gear. From Settings, click the Inbox tab. Select your desired setting from the “Inbox type” drop-down list. Note that you can also adjust how many messages are displayed in each section, as well as the spacing between messages. Additional information about Inbox styles is available on the Google Help website.
Personally, I like to use my inbox as a way to keep on top of tasks that I need to act upon. Once I’ve read a message, I either archive it or leave it in my inbox. When I archive a message, it’s out of my inbox (and out of sight), but I can always find it later with a search. If I leave a read message in my inbox, I know I still need to act on it. By selecting the “Unread” inbox style, my unread messages appear at the top of the list, followed by the messages that I have read but still need to act upon. In this way, I’m able to effectively balance what’s new, what’s old, and what’s still in progress.
Keeping it together with NYU Calendar reminders
An organized calendar is a necessity for any student, instructor, or staff member, as is finding a way to make sure you don’t miss any of the events stored there. NYU Calendar is a robust tool that provides all the standard calendar features, along with versatile notification and alert options and easy syncing with your mobile device.
NYU Calendar offers both default and custom reminders. Default reminders are found in the Calendar settings menu at the top-right of the NYU Calendar screen and are applied to all events on your calendar. Custom reminders give you the flexibility to set multiple reminders for an individual event from minutes to weeks before it occurs and to receive them as an e-mail, pop-up, or even text message. Custom reminders can be set for individual events by opening the detailed view and adjusting the options in the Reminders section.
I have chosen to set my default reminders to trigger a pop-up alert on my computer and phone ten minutes before an event. Such reminders are perfect for helping me remember to head to a nearby meeting or that it’s time for me to go to lunch. But when I have an important meeting that requires advanced planning or travel time, custom reminders are particularly useful. Custom reminders are set for an individual event, and can be delivered at multiple times and in different ways. For example, if I’m giving a presentation for a class, receiving a reminder ten minutes in advance isn’t going to give me enough time to prepare. Instead, I might want to be reminded a few days before (to put together my slides), then on the morning of (to make sure that I wear a tie), and then 30 minutes before (to do some deep breathing to calm my nerves).
For additional information about NYU Calendar reminders, see the Google Help website.
Keep playing with Google Apps
NYU E-mail and NYU Calendar have a multitude of other handy features, and are not the only tools at your disposal to keep you on track throughout the year. Visit the NYU Google Apps website to explore NYU Docs, NYU Groups, NYU Sites, and NYU Chat, and to discover a wide range of interesting ways to effectively communicate and collaborate using NYU Google Apps for Education.
About the author
Devin Nix is an ITS Academic Technology Specialist and Service Lead for the NYU Google Apps support team.