In August, we focused on using your Gmail inbox for increased productivity, so this month we’re going to focus on the Outlook users! (These tips are intended for Outlook 365 users, but some will still apply to older versions.)
I’m often asked to help overwhelmed employees and business owners keep on top of their email inboxes as a virtual assistant, so here are a few tips and tricks that will clear the chaos and bring peace of mind, giving you more time and energy to do what you do best.
- Turn emails into To Do tasks. Many folks are already using their inboxes as a de-facto To Do list by keeping piles and piles of emails meant to remind them to do something important. Instead of letting tasks get buried under new messages, just turn them into Tasks! Simply drag the email and drop it onto the Tasks list icon, which looks like a little clipboard. This will allow you to assign a due date and a time for a reminder. So, for example, if you receive an email regarding a project that is due EOB on Friday, you can set the due date for Friday and make sure that you get a reminder after lunch on Thursday.
- Take advantage of the Clean Up function. While viewing your inbox, just click the Clean Up button under the Home tab. What this does is move all duplicate messages that are part of a long thread into the Trash. The feature is quite sophisticated—it won’t delete emails with attachments. This feature is especially handy if you’ve been out of office for some time, and have missed out on long email threads.
- Filter your messages using the Rules function. The easiest way to manage more email is to reduce the amount of email you receive in the first place. Unsubscribing can be dicey, as some companies subscribe you to multiple lists without giving you any clear way to unsub from them all at once. What you can do instead is to simply filter these messages out by creating a Rule that automatically trashes all emails from a particular sender, for example. You can also use this feature to create urgent To Do’s out of every emails your boss sends you with a particular subject line, or to archive emails that don’t need any action but need to be kept as a record.
Hopefully, these tips will help you create a little more harmony and mental space at work. What other kind of help could you use with your business? Get in touch to let me know!