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.

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:

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.

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. This is more lenient behavior than many other goal types have! If you get below the road 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 (also accessible through the New Goal link in the top menu).
  3. Click the Gmail icon to start a new goal using Gmail data

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

    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!



    Here is where you can set whether we look for read emails, unread emails, or all emails. Think carefully! Selecting unread emails means that you're not perfectly in control of the number: it can skyrocket overnight if you get a lot of mail. Then 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!
  7. Give your goal a brief name. If you want, you can also write a short description with more information.

  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 +/- stepper at the bottom to control how high it goes. In the example below, I've chosen to start at a $5 pledge, which will increase each time I derail, until it reaches $10, which is the pledge cap. (So just one increase in this case.) To read more about pledges and payments, check out some FAQs!



    And then click finish... and tada, now the goal is created! There's still one last step to take for this goal type, though. The graph is being drawn flat and the goal is "ending in 10 years," and that might not be what we need!

    If your inbox is already at 0, the road 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 -- this goal will ensure that you continue to have inbox zero at least once per day!
  9. If the rate is too steep for you, you can get that fixed up! In the Commit To 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 2028, 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. Press Update to submit any changes if necessary, and your goal will start taking shape 7 days from now!

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