The email inbox — everybody uses it, everybody relies on it, and chances are most of us dread it. Especially after the New Year, when the holidays may have sapped our motivation to stay on top of incoming messages, and when the first week of January has everyone working hard to make up for lost time.
Luckily, there are several tools you can rely on in Microsoft Outlook (the most popular business email program around) to clean up your inbox — next week is even 8th Annual Clean Out Your Inbox week. And if you don’t think you need to take action to organize your inbox, consider these statistics from Microsoft: the average email user receives more than 10,000 personal emails per year — and 80% of those are newsletters, sales offers, and news updates that can clog up your account.
So what can you do to streamline your email and regain control over your cluttered inbox? These tips apply to most versions of Microsoft Outlook:
- Organize your account into categories or folders. The quickest way to organize your inbox is to set up categories based on topics, projects, senders, or subjects that you deal with on a regular basis. In Outlook, right-click the Categories field and choose from the many options — colors, titles, and statuses — or create your own.
- Use the Search tool to find emails. Once you implement a basic structure, devote a little time to finding important emails and categorizing them into your new system. You can search by contacts, attachment type, subject lines, or even keywords.
- After your emails are organized, archive them. This is another easy way to clean out your inbox. Select specific emails or entire categories, then click Archive on the top navigation bar to save those messages but remove them from your inbox view.
- Implement automatic filing and/or rules. This changes a task from manual to automated, saving you time. Click on Move To, which can help you create rules to send future email directly to a specified folder. Even better, you can create an Important or Critical rule that channels only those messages you deem necessary to everyday operations to your inbox while sending the rest of the junk to a folder to be checked later.
- Perform some kind of action to every email that comes in. If you’ve completed the steps above, you should be ready to deal with each individual message that arrives in your inbox. Try to hold yourself to the “deal with it now” rule to keep up: either flag, respond to, file, move, or delete an email every time it pings your account and your inbox woes should be over.
Bonus tip: Make sure your mobile email is properly synced to your main account. By some estimates, checking, reading, and responding to email takes up 20% of the time we spend on our smartphones. That means having a properly synced account is critical to getting work done on the go.
Need help with mobile solutions? Looking for other timesaving tips related to email or other applications? Contact CMIT Solutions today. We specialize in helping small to medium-sized businesses enhance efficiency and increase productivity by putting technology to proper use.