e-mail organization in Outlook

It is a well known problem today, that an inbox of a e-mail clients will be flooded day by day. A lot of e-mails are arriving every day at a person's inbox. Depending on the function of a person this means 100 and more new e-mails per day. This capacity isn't easy to handle anymore. It takes a lot of time to filter or search a certain e-mail. Key decission makers or other employees in a leading position need to have a certain organization and pre-filtering in order to process all the information they get day by day. Based on the content of an e-mail (e.g. information mail vs. e-mail that requires an action/response) different views on an e-mail inbox should contribute to a better overview. Furthermore a more or less ruleset should allow a effective and fast e-mail archivation and tracking.
1 answer

Classify e-mails and organize them

First of all each e-mail has to be classified, this can be done by the 4 D's:

  • Do it
  • Delegate it
  • Defer it
  • Dump it

That means immediately when you receive an e-mail you need to classify it by one of the 4 D's

Based on that the Pay It Forward Email Management (PIFEM) is the ideal enhancement in order to achieve a more efficient workflow in regardo of e-mail processing.
Once an e-Mail arrives, it will be categorized (Microsoft Outlook offers Categories) by adding an imprtance category. Furthermore the e-Mail will be flagged with a due date. After that it is possibel to apply different views on the inbox.

Managing e-mail categories
First of all categories have to be defend. There are some standard categories availible, but they should be customized to the personal needs

  1. The Outlook categories can be maintained by right-clicking on any certain e-mail. Within the context menu, click on Categories => All categories.
  2. Then the existing categories can be renamed, deleted or new categories can bee added
  3. Furthermore it is possibe to assigne a color to the category and/or a keyboard shortcut

Flag an e-mail
Once the e-Mail is categorized, it is necessary to flag it with a certain due date. To flag an e-Mail just right click on the affected mail entry and click flack. You can choose a predefined due date or enter a due date manually.

Create inbox views
To get a better overview, it is ideal to create different views on the inbox (e.g. follow up today, follow up tomorrow, ).
How to create inbox views:

  1. In Mail, on the File menu, point to New, and then click Search Folder (or just press CTRL+SHIFT+P).
  2. Click Create a custom Search Folder.
  3. Under Customize Search Folder, click Choose.
  4. Type a name for your custom Search Folder.
  5. Click Criteria, select the options that you want, and then click OK.
  6. For the selection criteria select the due date for the flagged e-mail

You may repeat the following steps for each due date in order to have a search folder for today's mails, tomorrow's mails, next week mails, etc. Due to the use of search folders, it is insured that the content of all folders will be updated automatically.

When using categories it allows you to make a categorization not in urgent/important but in projects for example.

To learn more about PIFEM check out: http://blogs.technet.com/b/jkruse/archive/2008/02/01/pifem-a-closer-look...