Emails are meant to be a handy mode of communication, yet many of us spend much too much time trying to make sense of our Inbox. Emails may end up costing you more time than they save if they are not properly organized.
Microsoft Outlook has a variety of capabilities that may assist relieve this issue, but many users are unaware of the capability that is buried away in the application. Use these features to keep your Inbox as clean as possible so you can concentrate on more essential topics.
Find a View That Suits You
Tailoring the application to your workflow is one of the first steps in becoming an experienced Outlook user. Although almost everyone uses email these days, this does not imply that we all use it in the same manner. What works for someone else may not work for you, which is why it’s a good idea to customize Outlook’s default layout to better fit your needs.
Navigate to the View tab to discover what choices you have. The Change View button in the Current View area provides a few options, but it’s definitely worth exploring the Arrangement and Layout section to delve into the nitty-gritty of customizing.
For example, you may wish to adjust Message Glimpse to 3 Lines to get a more complete preview of a smaller number of emails at once. Alternatively, you might turn off the Reading Pane to conserve some much-needed screen space in favor of opening individual emails in a new window to read through them.
The goal here is to determine what is most suited to the way you use Outlook. Try things out – it’s as simple as returning these settings to their defaults if they don’t function as well as you had planned.
Use Rules to Automate the Process
Rules are an excellent first step in organizing your emails because, put in place, they will do most of the job before you ever open your inbox. To begin using Rules, go to the Home tab in Outlook and choose Rules > Manage Rules & Alerts.
From here, choose New Rule. You’ll see a number of templates as well as the option to start from scratch. For the time being, it’s preferable to stay with the templates provided – there will be plenty of opportunities to tweak the Rule on the following screen. For the sake of this instance, we’ll choose Move message from someone to a folder.
Now is the time to put the rule to use. I’d want to build up a system in which every email I get from another MakeUseOf contributor is automatically sent to a priority folder. To do so, check the box next to with specified terms in the sender’s address in the conditions window. Then, in the area below, click particular terms — I set it to makeuseof so that it would only answer to emails received from a site email account, but clearly this can be whatever you want — and then choose a suitable folder by choosing specified and browsing to it.
Next, decide what you want to do with the messages that this Rule saves, and think carefully about whether you want to cease processing new rules. Depending on the other rules you have in place, leaving this option checked may pose organizational challenges in the future. Then, pick your exceptions before naming and activating your Rule. It will then automatically filter through your mail until you turn it off.
Divide and Conquer with Categories
While Rules are an excellent approach to handle the majority of your email, some organizing activities need the use of a human eye. A strict use of Categories may assist to expedite this process, enabling you to categorize mail quickly and precisely. To create your Categories, go to the Tags area of Outlook’s Home page and choose Categorize > All Categories.
You’ll find a list of all the Categories that are presently in place here. They’ll default to a basic color scheme, so you may want to start by just editing those items. To make them a little more helpful, select a Category, rename it to something relevant to the kind of mail you’ll be receiving, and give it a shortcut key from the menu.
With these settings in place, you’ll be able to arrange your emails as they arrive fast and effortlessly. Simply choose a message in your Inbox and select the relevant shortcut that you just set. You may now view all messages labeled under a certain Category by typing the name of that Category into the Outlook search field.
Utilize the Search Bar
Forward planning is the key to keeping your emails organized – a little preparation ahead of time may minimize difficulties later on. However, there will be occasions when an email goes missing and there is no trace of it in any of your meticulously kept folders or Categories. In such situation, it’s best to use the search bar.
Outlook’s search capability is both quick and comprehensive. Enter a search keyword into the area above your Inbox, and it will immediately return all occurrences of that word, whether in a subject header or the body of an email. This is particularly beneficial if you recall a specific information from an email that you can’t retrieve via usual methods.
It’s important to note that when your Inbox is full, your search speeds will suffer. If that’s the case, it could be worth checking certain folders rather than every single email Outlook has access to. To do this, utilize the dropdown menu on the right side of the search box to reduce your options. Head to the Refine area of the Search tab for further in-depth adjustments.
Remember to Use Outlook.com
Although the online version of Outlook does not have all of the bells and whistles of the desktop edition, the fact that it is instantly available from any device with a web browser means that it should not be disregarded. It’s a totally fine alternative if you need to check your emails at the drop of a hat when you’re away from your workstation.
However, the web-based Outlook does more than merely check email. By clicking on the Settings cog in the upper right-hand corner of your screen, you can also access a very complete collection of Options that may come in useful while you’re on the road. You may also access your Rules and Categories from the same dropdown menu.
Knowing that you can view your Outlook emails from anywhere may be used in conjunction with a Rule to help you thin down your Inbox even while you’re not at your computer. If you have a regular commute, you may be able to turn your bus or train travel into a comfortable time to check your email before the day begins.
Do you have a smart trick for utilizing Outlook to arrange your emails? Please tell us about it in the comments area below.
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