Social media talk may be everywhere, but these days, most of us do the majority of our communication through e-mail. At this point, many of us have been exchanging e-mail for nearly two decades, which means many of us have years of accumulated e-mail in our mailboxes. This disorganized mess means even the simplest of searches can take far longer than necessary, routinely wasting time.
Outlook provides folders for easy organization of e-mails, but who has time to clean up years of clutter? By following the below tips, you can have every piece of e-mail where you can easily find it.
- Use Rules. Outlook already has a built-in way for organizing your e-mails without having to manually move a single message. You simply instruct the e-mail engine to direct all messages with a certain name in the “From” field or certain words in the subject line to go to a specific folder. So, for instance, each message that comes in from your co-worker “Frank” would go into a folder titled “Frank.” In Outlook 2010, this is done under Home-Rules. For step-by-step instructions, click here. For Outlook 2007 instructions, click here.
- Organize your conversations. In Outlook 2010, you have the option of “conversation view.” It may take a little mental adjustment, but once you get used to it, you’ll find that you can more easily follow a conversation using this view. To set this up, go to the View tab and click “Show as Conversations” in the Conversations group.
- Organize your contacts. Smart Contacts for Outlook will divide your contacts into three major categories: recent, frequent, and favorite. This helps you easily find those people you contact most often. Smart Contacts also allows users to add photos and personal details for the contacts listed under favorites. Once your contacts are organized, you’ll only have to enter the first three letters of a contact’s name to populate your “To” field.
- Take time to organize your inbox. As painful as it is, one hour can save hours of time in the months that follow. Set aside one hour to move messages around. Don’t take calls or respond to e-mails during that time. Mark yourself as “busy” in your calendar. Set up folders for each of the issues that your e-mails seem to address and set up rules to ensure future e-mails on those topics go to the right place.
- Enable junk mail filters. According to NetworkWorld, 97% of all e-mails are spam, costing ISPs and companies an estimated $42 billion annually. These messages aren’t only a nuisance, they can wreak havoc on company e-mail servers and workstations thanks to the estimated 83% of spam that contains a link to a site with malicious content. Spam control begins at the server level with e-mail policies that quarantine junk e-mails before they get to the users. Outlook has a built-in junk mail filter. To adjust the way the filter works, follow these instructions.
Once you’ve set everything up, it’s important to maintain your e-mail organization work for the long haul. Otherwise, you’ll simply be going through these steps again in a few months.