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The Inbox Escape Plan – Setting Your Inbox Type

The Inbox Escape Plan – Setting Your Inbox Type

Gmail defaults to show all of your messages in one area of your inbox. While this is great for getting an overall view of your inbox it can cause stress by showing you too much information. Let’s be honest when it’s time to tackle our inbox we just need to get to the point and we have no time to look at extra emails.

That is where inbox types come in. Changing your inbox type changes how Gmail displays your email. Today I want to share with you share my favorite inbox type and how you can set it up in your own Gmail account.

My Favorite Inbox Type

This is pretty nerdy to admit but I do have a favorite way to organize my inbox. I am a big fan of the Unread First set up in Gmail. When you choose this inbox type your emails are split into two sections, unread and everything else. I really like this set up because…..

  • I can visually hide my everything else section so the emails are out of sight out of mind.
  • Being able to only see my unread messages helps me not feel as anxious about the number of emails I have.
  • Only seeing my unread messages allows me to quickly find any email that still requires action from me.
  • Having two sections makes it easy to categorize my email. It is either read or unread. No need to over complicate things.

I think overall I really like Unread first because it helps de-clutter my email. Below are screenshots of the default Gmail inbox and the same inbox set up with Unread First as it’s inbox type.

The Default Gmail inbox
The same Gmail inbox set up as the Unread First inbox type.
All of the read messages were automatically moved to the Everything Else section.

How to Change Your Inbox Type to Unread First

You can change your inbox type by clicking on the gear in the top right hand corner of your gmail. This will bring up a drop down menu. Click on settings.

This will open up your email settings. Click on Inbox on the top menu.

Click on the drop down menu next to Inbox type and then select your inbox type.

OPTIONAL: If you want you can edit how many items appear in each section, hide the section when it is empty, or completely remove the section by clicking on the options dropdown next to the different sections.

Make sure you hit save changes before going back to your inbox!

Again I know this seems really dorky to have a favorite inbox type but I have found myself way less stressed out after changing my inbox type. If you are looking for more ideas on how to tackle your inbox make sure to check out my presentation The Inbox Escape Plan by clicking here.

The Day After Perfect

The Day After Perfect

Image result for finish book

A few months ago I read Jon Acuff’s book Finish. The book is about what it takes to finish your goals and what keeps us from finishing. The first chapter of the book shares a great concept that I think is important for educators to hear. In the book, he talks about the day after perfect and the difference it can make between those who quit and those who finish.

When I first started teaching every day I told myself that my class that day was going to be amazing. I would spend a lot of time planning and get ready for a lesson that I was sure was going to be a hit….reality is sometimes they were hits and sometimes they were duds. If you have spent any time working in education (or really any field) you probably know the duds I’m talking about. The ones that make you question why you are doing what you are doing. It is at this point that we have to make a decision. Ignore the one bad day and learn from it OR quit. Sadly too many people quit because they believe that they are not living up to the standard that has been set by other educators at their school or on social media. Acuff argues that instead of quitting you should acknowledge that you are not perfect and then start over again. You will never finish anything if you allow perfection to stand in the way.

This is something that I find myself having to remind myself about. There is always tomorrow and tomorrow brings an opportunity to start a new streak of awesomeness. Don’t let perfection and this false image we have created with social media of what it takes to get good demoralize you. Education is a very personal journey and everyone’s journey will be different. Don’t let the day after perfect keep you from taking this journey.



Using a timer in class is a great way motivate students to stay on task. Today I wanted to share two online options that I have used in the past to help students (and teachers during PD 😉 )stay on task.

Many of us use the timers on our phone, small stopwatches, or even the clock on our computer to manage time. The problem is unless we tell the students how much time they have left they never really know. To help students gain a better grasp for time you can project a timer for the students. Doing this helps students become aware of how to best manage their time during class.

One quick tip that I have for using timers is to assign random times. For example instead of telling students they have 10 minutes to finish something I will tell them that they have 9 minutes. Even though it’s only a one minute difference that lack of a minute creates a sense of urgency that can help students stay on task.

Option #1

Screen Shot 2013-08-16 at 12.28.31 PM is a website where a user can input the amount of time they need for a timer and in seconds have a full screen countdown projected on their board. It’s simple to use and even has some special timers you can use to have fun with.

Option #2


If you would like to include a timer into your PowerPoint or Google Presentation there are several different timers available on Youtube. To find a timer I search for the amount of time I want and the words timer or countdown. So for a five minute timer I would search for “5 minute timer” or “5 minute countdown”. I suggest scrubbing through the video first to make sure that there are no surprises before including it in your presentation.

If you need any help with setting up a timer please let me know. Also if you find any other amazing timers or have any suggestions for using a timer in the classroom please be sure to share with the group!

Featured Image: Timer de Cozinha em forma de Tomate by
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