Gmail

How does GmailZero work?

GmailZero uses a Whittle Down goal to reduce or maintain the number of emails you have. The default use case is setting it to count up the number of read messages in your inbox, but you can pick any label (not just your inbox) and you can have it count unread messages or all messages (both unread and read). Check out the last question in this guide for a walkthrough on setting up your goal.

Can I track two different Gmail accounts?

Not at the moment! If this is something you're really keen on seeing, it'd be useful for us to hear -- let support know!

Why are you asking for permission to manage mailbox labels?

This is the level of access we need to be able to read how many emails you have. It's the lowest level of permissions Google offers, and gives us no access to read your emails at all.

How do I change the label Beeminder counts?

Go to the goal's page and into the "Settings" section. Look for the Gmail Label section:

Shows the "Gmail Label" section, with a yellow warning at the top that changing settings will change your data and potentially derail your graph. You can select "read", "unread" or "all" from the first dropdown to change what Beeminder counts, and select a specific label to count from in the second dropdown.

Be careful! When you change labels, we will get the count for the new label, and if that's much higher than the value you were already counting, you'll derail if you can't get it down in time! You can email support@beeminder.com either to prevent that derailment or to let us know it wasn't legit because you changed which label was being counted. You may prefer to just create a new goal and archive the old one.

I'm pressing the fetch button, but my datapoint and graph don't appear to be updating with new data.

Refresh the goal page and check the comment on your most recent datapoint. If the timestamp and value in the comment are accurate, the right thing is happening!

GmailZero goals use the lowest datapoint of the day for your graph, even if it isn't the most recent datapoint. So if you get below the bright red line once during the day, and make sure Beeminder fetches the count while you're there, you can let emails pile up again until tomorrow.

My GmailZero goal is telling me I need to reach a negative number of emails!

Check out "What happens when I reach 0?" from the help page on Whittle Down goals.

I have an old GmailZero goal from before January 2020 which I want to restart.

Please email support@beeminder.com for help with this! We changed the level of access we used to ensure we were only asking for what we needed to count your emails, so we'll need to help you adjust your goal now. If you have a new goal created using labels or converted it when we changed over, this doesn't apply; only old goals which used a search query will be affected.

GmailZero sample goal setup

  1. (Optional.) You may want to set up a new label for your messages in Gmail, for instance to automatically forward all work-related emails to a label called "Work" so you can only beemind those. You'll need to set this label up before you make your goal!
  2. Once you're ready, head to create a new goal.
  3. Click the Gmail icon to start a new goal using Gmail data

    Gmail icon

  4. First, you'll need to authenticate with Gmail!
  5. Shows the Beeminder and Gmail icons, and a button to "Connect to Gmail"
    Click on "Connect to Gmail" and we'll open the Google sign-in page. Select the Google account you want to beemind.

    Screenshot of Gmail auth, showing that we ask for permission to "Manage mailbox labels"

    Click on the blue "Allow" button, and you'll be sent back to Beeminder itself.

  6. First, pick the final value you want to reach in your inbox. It defaults to 0, but if you'd rather aim for a higher number, that works too!

    The Gmail goal setup stage. At the top it shows the icons of the integration, and then the first step is "I pledge to get my Gmail label work down to" and a target can be chosen there... followed by the words "and keep it there". Other choices include a dropdown for choosing whether Beeminder will count all, unread or read messages, and to choose a specific label to count from. A checkbox allows you to start the goal with extra leeway.
    Here is where you can set whether we look for read emails, unread emails, or all emails. Think carefully! Selecting unread or all emails means that you're not perfectly in control of the number: it can skyrocket overnight if you get a lot of mail. Once you've decided, select which label you want to beemind: if you created one in step #1, you should find it in the list now and select it.

    Don't forget to tick the box for extra leeway if you don't want the goal to start yet! Because Beeminder will automatically set a rate at first, but you have a specific rate you want to set, then set the leeway to 8 days to start with, and ratchet it once you're all set after the goal's been created.
  7. Give your goal a brief name. If you want, you can also write a short description with more information.

    The "Give your goal a name" step in goal creation, showing the first box creates a URL for the goal, and the second box adds a short description
  8. Finally, choose your initial pledge. This is the amount you will pay the first time you derail on the goal. After derailing, the pledge will increase by default — use the dropdown below to control how high it goes. In the example below, I have chosen to start at a $5 pledge, which will increase each time I derail, until it reaches $270 — the pledge cap. (To read more about pledges and payments, check out some FAQs!)

    Screenshot of the "Pledge your money" screen, showing the starting stakes (choosing between $0 and $5 using radio buttons). The text below that says "Your pledge will increase each time you derail until you reach your pledge cap", with a demonstration below showing the pledge progression: 5, 10, 30, 90... to the pledge cap, which is a set of stepper buttons currently showing $270.

    And then click through the preview section to finish creating the goal... and tada, now the goal is created! There's still one last step to take for this goal type, though. Your graph starts out with whatever leeway you set, but then if your inbox isn't already at 0, we automatically set a conservative rate for you to help you get started.

    If your inbox is already at 0, the bright red line will be flat and this goal will be more of a maintenance setup than an achievement setup. Maintenance is also a totally fine reason to create a goal, and this goal will ensure that you continue to have inbox zero at least once per day.
  9. If you want to configure your rate or set a target date, proceed to this step! In the Commitment Dial section of the Commitment tab below the graph, update the goal commitment if necessary to reflect how fast you want to achieve this goal. Maybe you'd rather hit inbox zero this year, than waiting until 2032, for example! Or maybe you don't care about reaching 0, but you do want to commit to reducing it by 50 messages per week for a while. In the example below, I've set it to get me to inbox zero by the end of the year.

    Press Update to submit any changes if necessary, and your change will appear on the graph starting 7 days from now. If you started with leeway earlier, you can now ratchet that away if you want to be on the hook for that new rate.

    Example of a commitment dial, showing the goal date and goal value boxes are active (no shading), with a date of 2022-12-31 and goal value of 0. A third box is shaded grey and a calculated rate of -4.76 emails per day appears there.


Keywords: autodata integrations, GmailZero, Gmail Zero, email, inbox-minding, productivity

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