Ever email someone hoping for a reply, never hear from them, then forget about your original email? That forgetfulness could cost you a lead or a deal. Here’s the system I’ve developed to keep track of emails I’m waiting to hear back from.

Many years ago, when I was enslaved to the Windows platform, I used ACT! — a great contact and task management tool. One of the things I loved about it was you could easily create a follow-up task each time you contacted someone. Then, if you haven’t heard from them for a week or so, you could ping them a reminder.

After losing track of too many emails I needed to hear back from, I developed this system in Gmail. Here are the steps you need to set this up.


Setup (you only need to do this once)


Step 1: Create the 1 WAITING label

In Gmail, Click the Settings link in the top-right of the page, then click Labels, as below:


Look for the Labels section down the page. It will look like this:


  • Type 1 WAITING into the box and click Create. (You’ll wait to put the 1 in front so that it sorts to the top of your labels list, making it easier to click.)
  • Go back to the main Gmail page by clicking the Mail link in the left navigation area.
  • Look for 1 WAITiNG on the left and click the small box to its left. Assign it a colour. I recommend white text on bright red background so that emails you’re waiting for really stand out in your inbox when they arrive.


Step 2: Set up Multiple Inboxes

To keep your eyeballs on emails you’re waiting for a response from, use the Multiple Inboxes feature in Mail Labs. Here’s how to set it up.

First, click the Mail Labs icon at the top right of Gmail (it looks like a small green beaker to the right of your email address):


Scroll down the long list of labs features until you find Multiple Mailboxes.


Click Enable. Scroll down to the very bottom of the page and click Save Changes.


Click the Settings link at the top of the page again, then click the Multiple Inboxeslink.

Type in the information exactly as it appears below:
is:1 WAITING — note: make sure there isn’t a space between is: and 1.


Click Save Changes at the bottom, then ?bo back to the main Gmail page by clicking the Mail link in the left navigation area.



Now that it’s all set up, here’s how to use it.

Step 1: Send your email as usual



Step 2: Apply the WAITING label in Sent Mail

  • Go to Sent Mail and find the email you just sent (it’s probably the one at the top).
  • Click the checkmark box to the left of the email.
  • Pull down the Labels menu.
  • Click the box beside 1 WAITING.


Your email should look like this. Notice that it now has a bright red 1 WAITING label.


Go back to the main Gmail page by clicking the Mail link in the left navigation area.


That’s It!

You’re all set up! Your screen should look something like this:


You now have two areas on your screen — regular emails and important emails that you’re still waiting for a response from. I like this view because it keeps those emails front-and-centre in my mind.

When someone replies to one of these marked emails, it’ll show up in your main Inbox as per usual, with the bright red flag. Reply as per usual and, if you no longer need the flag, just select the Labels menu again and click 1 WAITING to turn the flag off or click the X beside the red label.