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Consortium student teaches campus crowds how to ‘Pimp My Gmail’

Michigan Ross student Ashlyee Freeman has taught hundreds how to “Pimp My Gmail” with cool tips and tricks for using labels and filters to wrangle their inbox and ideas about experimental Gmail features that can further streamline their experience.

In a cry for help, Ashlyee Freeman heard from a friend who had 41,000 unread emails in his Gmail inbox. Up to that point, Freeman—a first-year MBA student and Consortium member at the Michigan Ross School of Business—had shared her tips for managing Gmail with a few dozen classmates.

“He would not stop talking about it with people,” Freeman said. “So now I have another club engagement.”

Ashlyee Freeman, Michigan Ross School of Business, produces a program called Pimp My Gmail.
Ashlyee Freeman, Michigan Ross School of Business, produces a program called Pimp My Gmail.

Yup. The Gmail classes have begun to go wide. About 200 people in the Ross community have clicked into her class, with the invitations still coming.

She’s even branded her presentation with the moniker, “Pimp My Gmail.” She’s made the presentation to members of her section of classmates and received invitations to share it with a host of campus-based clubs and organizations. (You can view her presentation deck here.)

She teaches participants how to better manage the cloud-based email platform that serves more than 1 billion monthly users—including the students, faculty and staff at the Ross School of Business.

She shows them cool tips and tricks for using labels and filters to wrangle their inbox. She’s even showed them about experimental Gmail features that can further streamline the experience—including “canned responses,” a feature that lets users prepare pre-written responses to frequently received incoming messages.

“I just took Gmail for granted,” Freeman said. She had started an online magazine for teens called My Everyzine several years earlier, relying on Google’s G Suite—its stable of cloud-based productivity apps, including Google Drive and Gmail (note: Google is a Consortium corporate partner).

“When I had a parallel corporate career, I was always the person trying to convert them from Outlook to G Suite,” Freeman said. “Then I started working for Google.”

There, Freeman worked as a project manager for the head of YouTube Spaces, working across different divisions within the company.

Her past professional experiences led her to work toward her MBA. “I wanted to make sure that what I did was aligned with my purpose,” Freeman said. “I feel like my purpose is unlocking possibilities through innovation, education and development. It’s very much my guiding light.”

She’ll start putting that to the test this summer when she goes to work for Accenture (another Consortium corporate partner) as a strategy consultant.

In a LinkedIn blog post about her Gmail program, Freeman noted how flattering it was to be appreciated for something she’s learned to do to improve her own efficiency. “It felt spectacular to teach others the skills I learned while using Google to build my own business during the last six years.”

Ashlyee’s Top Five Gmail Tips

  1. Archive emails to declutter your inbox: I favor archiving instead of deleting. It gets the emails out of your way, but they are still accessible through search.
  2. Create as many labels as you find useful: It’s great that an email can have multiple labels, but you don’t need labels for everything. If you would only use the label once, it isn’t worth it.
  3. Create a “#Winning” label: Sometimes, it’s hard to keep track of your accomplishments. Many times, there is evidence of them in your email. Mark them as “#Winning” so you have them available when you craft your interview stories.
  4. Use automatic filters: Some emails just don’t need your attention right away. Use filters to shift them to another mailbox, label, or mark-as-read.
  5. Use mobile shortcuts to write thank-you emails in seconds: Set up your keyboard shortcuts to deploy one of your common email templates. For example, when I type “g2m” in my phone, it automatically replaces the text with my typical “great to meet you” email. Then I customize it and send.

Pictured Above: Ashlyee Freeman, Michigan Ross School of Business (2018), has given her “Pimp My Gmail” presentation to hundreds of fellow students on campus.

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