stack copy 2 copy 4.jpg

Gmail Setup Guide

Everything you need to set up Gmail for Stack



Create Your Folders (Labels) |   Set Up Your Environment   |   Archive Your Old Emails | Schedule Stacking Time

  | Set Up Your Preview Pane | Back to the Stack Method MasterClass

1. Create Your Folders (Labels)

Create Action labels and When labels and learn how to edit, hide and remove labels.


To create your action folders (which Gmail calls "Labels") go to your settings menu or look on your left hand menu for the words "Manage Labels" This can sometimes be hidden under the "More" link at the bottom of the page.

+ 1. Create a "1 reply" folder

This is the folder that contains emails you need to reply to in under 5 minutes. If the email is going to take you longer than 5 minutes, put it in your "2. Do (5+)" folder to be scheduled.

+ 2. Create a "2 do (5+)" folder

This folder will hold emails that you can do quickly, and emails that will take you longer than 5 minutes that need to be scheduled on your calendar to complete.

+ 3. Create a "3 meet" folder

This folder is for meeting or events that you need to accept or schedule. Remember to use the number in all your action folder names so that it shows up in order in your email application.

+ 4. Create a "4 remind" folder

This folder helps ensure that things aren’t slipping through the cracks. Put the emails you've BCC'd yourself on that you want to track into this folder. Remember to BCC yourself again if you need to follow-up so that the response stays in this folder.

+ 5. Create a "5 delegate" folder

This folder holds emails with tasks you need to delegate to other people to complete.

+ 6. Create a "6 review (cc)" folder

This folder is for emails that have information you need to review, or emails you have been CC'd on. This folder keeps the number of emails in the Reply folder down to a minimum.

+ 7. Determine if you need to customize your action folders.

If you don't need a folder, get rid of it, you can always add it back later. And if you need more folders, definitely add them. But try not to have too many folders otherwise it will feel cumbersome to work through your folders. When you name folders, remember to use short, action-oriented names.


WHEN folders are best for creating pockets of information that you are certain that you will need to reference for example - when creating an annual report, doing taxes, writing a book, assembling collections, or working on other large or long-term projects.

+ 1. Create the When Folder

Create your When folder and give it the next number in sequence after your action folders. For example, if you have 6 action folders, name the next folder "7. When"

+ 2. Create active folders under this folder for reference

The key word to determine what active reference folders you need is the word "when.” When will you need to reference this information? Your archive folders will help you most if it’s clear when you will require their contents.

Remember: Arrange your folders in a hierarchy under your “When,” folder so that you can minimize side folders to cut down on distraction when going through your daily email work.


Keeping only what you need on your left side bar is important because anything unecessary creates visual clutter that distracts us from the task at hand.

+ 1. Click on "Manage Labels"

Go to your settings menu or look on your left hand menu for the words "Manage Labels". This can sometimes be hidden under the "More" link near the bottom of the left hand navigation.

+ 2. Hide or delete anything you don't need

Hide anything you don't need by clicking "hide" in the "Show in Label List" column. We recommend hiding everything you don't need. In Prasanth's email, he only has Inbox, Sent, and then his Action and When folders.

2. Set Up Your Environment

Turn off desktop notifications, turn on keyboard shortcuts and select your star presets.


Email notifications distract us, are difficult to not click on, and as a result they wreck our concentration. We know that turning them off can be downright scary. Don’t worry, even with them off, you’ll still check your email. Follow our advice and do it, and if it doesn’t work for you, you can always turn them back on later.

+ 1. Click on "Settings"

It's the small gear in the upper right hand corner of your inbox screen.

+ 2. Select "Settings," from the dropdown menu.

This is the fifth item down, under "Configure Inbox."

+ 3. Disable notifications

Scroll about halfway down the Settings page and make sure to turn Mail Notifications Off. You may also take advantage of this opportunity to turn Chat notifications off as this will also reduce distractions and help you concentrate.


+ 4. Make sure to save changes.

Scroll to the bottom of the page and Save Changes.


+ 1. Click on settings

It’s the small gear in the upper right hand corner.

+ 2. Select settings from the dropdown menu.

This is the fifth item down, under "Configure Inbox."

+ 3. Make sure keyboard shortcuts are enabled

Scroll down the page until you find the Keyboard Shortcuts section. Make sure keyboard shortcuts are turned on.

download (1).png

+ 4. Make sure to save changes

Scroll to the bottom of the page and click to save your changes.

Still having trouble? Try our video walkthrough guide, here using the password STACK2016 to play

3. Archive Your Old Emails

Clean all those old emails from your inbox to your archive.


The best way to clear old emails out of your inbox in gmail is to archive them a year at a time. We recommend taking anything older than 3 weeks and archiving them. If you forget anything, you can always find it in your "All Mail" folder. The image below will help you understand all of the instructions.


+ 1. Go to the gmail search bar and enter before: yyyy/mm/dd after:yyyy/mm/dd

Replace the YYYY/MM/DD with the dates for the emails you want to arhive by year. In the example we've shown, we've selected three months worth of emails for a given year. Gmail can have trouble archiving more than a years worth of emails at a time, so we recommend archiving a year at a time until your inbox is clear.

+ 3. Click the select checkbox

The select checkbox can be found at the top left of the screen right under the search field.

This appears above the first email message in your inbox at the top of the screen. Selecting this will ensure that all the emails before the date you searched for are selected and not just the ones currently being displayed.

+ 5. Click the "Archive" button

This is next to your select checkbox at the top of the screen. Remember that archiving means you can still search and find these emails, they just won't be taking up space in your inbox anymore.

Still having trouble? Try our video walkthrough guide, here using the password STACK2016 to play.

4. Schedule Stacking Time

Schedule single or recurring events to Stack your email on your Google Calendar, and learn how to edit events. 


Blocking out time to Stack helps you build the habit and ensures that you email when it's time to email, and do your other work when it's time to do that work. To set up recurring calendar sessions, follow the steps below:

+ 1. Click on your calendar

It's easiest if you click on the date and time (or approximate time) you would like to create an entry.

+ 2. Title your calendar entry

We recommend you label your longer session as "Stack: Folders" and your shorter sessions as "Stack: Inbox".

"Stack: Folders" will be your time slot to empty your inbox into your action folders and work through your action folders. This will typically be a longer 1 hour session.

"Stack: Inbox" will be a shorter time slot to work through your inbox and answer emails directly out of your inbox.

These fields are located under the main menu bar on the left side.

+ 3. Click create event

In the lower right corner.

+ 4. Set your event to recur

Just below the date you'll see the words "Does Not Repeat". Click that drop down and set it to recur "Every weekday (Monday to Friday).

+ 5. Admire your calendar!

This is also a good time to check and make sure you got the correct date/time.

If you notice that the date or time is incorrect, you can just click and drag this block to the correct date and time, or you can edit this by accessing the Edit Event screen, which you can find by following the instructions on the next couple of pages.

5. Set Up Your Preview Pane

If you like the way that Outlook allows for a an email preview panel and would like to have that feature in Gmail - now you can.

1. Go to the Settings gear int he top right corner and select "Settings," from the dropdown menu. 

2. Click on the "Labs," option in the upper right.

3. Make sure that "Preview Pane," is Enabled and Save Changes.

4. Return to your inbox, and find the down arrow attached to the menu button directly to the left of the settings gear.

5. Click the down arrow and select "Vertical Split."


You can now toggle the preview pane on and off by clicking the "Toggle Split Pane Mode," button.