3 Common Mistakes of Email Filing

By standss · Comments ( 0 ) Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

Mistakes can create a mess

The theme for this month has been email filing and clean inboxes. This week we look at the three common mistakes that result in lost emails and cluttered Inboxes.

Over the last 15 years we have helped thousands of Outlook users get their emails organized and their Inboxes clean.

In this time we have learnt that the main reasons that Outlook users fail to keep their emails organized can be traced to these 3 common mistakes.

1. Filing emails before they have been actioned (or why you shouldn’t use Rules)

Most emails that we get are either for our information or action. Many users in an effort to get organized move emails out of the Inbox to dedicated folders for clients or projects… before the required action is completed.

The problem with this is because of the volume of emails that we all receive on a daily basis, the emails are quickly forgotten and the actions never taken.

What can you do?

Only move an email out of the Inbox if It does not require any action from you (in which case you either delete it or move it out to an archive/client/project folder).

a. You have completed the required action on it (E.g. replied to the email with the information requested)

b. It requires action from you and you have added the action to some kind of action list e.g. your Calendar or Task List.

Tip: This is why we don’t recommend using Rules for filing emails. Rules move emails out of the Inbox before you’ve had a chance to read them.

Instead we recommend using QuickFile for Outlook (for folder based email filing) or Email Tags for Outlook (for tag based filing) which can file most of your emails out of your Inbox at the click of one button… after you have finished reading them.

2. Leaving emails that do not require action in the Inbox

Leaving too many emails in your Inbox can also be a problem, particularly if you use your Inbox to show you what you still need to work on. Too many emails will cause actual work emails to get drowned out… and quickly move off the list.

Ironically, the problem isn’t the emails that you know you have to work on.

The BIG problem is the emails that you think you may work on… when you get the time. These include things people have sent to you for your information, newsletters on things you used to be interested in etc.

Instead of moving them out of the Inbox, we tend to leave them there… for when (???) we have a bit of free time.

What can you do?

I would recommend one of the following:

a. Either flag all emails that actually need your actual action so that they stand out…

b. Or Move out emails that do not need your actual action into another folder called Maybe.

I personally prefer the option of moving emails out of the Inbox because I am less likely to be distracted by maybe tasks. This really helps me to stay focussed on what I need to work on.

Now when I have some free time, I go to my Maybe folder.

Confession: I very rarely go to the MayBe folder. It has thousands of emails in it… and my life is probably much better for not having read them.

3. Forgetting to file Sent Emails

Why do we even bother filing emails (as opposed to simply deleting them once we have read them and taken the appropriate action).

The main reason is that we may need to refer to them later for information. We also need to retain them for legal reasons in case there is some dispute about what was written at some point in time in the future.

… and we normally don’t need just the one email. We need all related emails… incoming and outgoing.

Irrespective of how you organize your emails, it is very useful to file related incoming and outgoing emails together. That way you can see the entire conversation in one place when you need to.

What can you do?

a. Setup a daily or weekly time at which you will file emails out of your Sent Items folder or…

b. Use a tool like QuickFile for Outlook or Email Tags for Outlook which will automatically file the email (or a copy of it) out of the Sent Items folder to the correct folder once the email is sent.

Bonus Tip: Make sure that you file your emails in the way that works best for you

The ultimate purpose of any email filing system is to make it easy for you to find the emails again when you need them.

There are two main ways of filing emails… using folders and tags.

Which method works best for you will depend on several factors, including how your printed files (if you still use them) are organized.

I recommend that you read our earlier post Outlook Email Filing: Folders or Tags to ensure that you are using the best filing system for you… the one that makes your emails easier to find in the least time.

Organizing Emails: Folders versus Tags

By standss · Comments ( 2 ) Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

stress man
Last week I sent out an email to almost 40,000 readers asking them what they wanted help with. The overwhelming answer was some way of managing and organizing emails.

In this post I look at the two main ways of organizing emails… Folders and Tags. We will look at the advantages and disadvantages of each one so that you can decide which one works best for you.

We will also look at a couple of Outlook addins that you can use for each style of email management if you don’t want to do it all manually.

But before that…

What do we need from any email organization system?

Irrespective of the way we organize our emails, this is what we need.

1. We want to easily see which emails still need our attention.
2. We want to file away emails that we have finished with but need to refer to in the future. Ideally sent and received emails for a project/client etc should be in the same place so you can see them all together.
3. We want to quickly find and retrieve any one filed email or a group of filed emails.
4. We want to do all this without wasting our day shuffling emails around.

Organizing emails either in Folders or with Tags can meet 3 of the above requirements and you can use the addins that we mention below to do it to meet the last requirement.

Let’s look at each of the two methods now…

Method #1: Emails and Folders

The first way of filing that most people use in Outlook is Folders i.e. create folders inside Outlook and then file emails into these folders.

This method works well for most users because most of us are used to folders in the physical world. As a result, this paradigm is easy to understand.

Furthermore, Outlook was designed with folders in mind. It is easy to create folders quickly inside Outlook and then drag and drop emails into them.

Tip: If you have a system of paper folders in the physical world, we recommend that you create a similar folder structure inside Outlook. Having the same structure in both places makes is extremely easy to find emails when you need them.

The problem with folders is that is can be time consuming and error prone to move emails. It is easy to accidentally drop an email into the wrong folder… or to forget to file emails from the Sent Emails folder… and it can be cumbersome to locate folders once you have a lot of folders. Unless…

Automating Folder Filing in Outlook

If you are already using folders (or would like to) for your emails, then we recommend Quick File for Outlook (the PRO version is what most busy professionals choose).

QuickFile adds a few buttons inside Outlook for you. It recommends folders based on your previous actions. You will be able to file up to 90% of your emails to the correct folder at the click of one button.

It also prompts you (with a recommendation) when you send out emails so that sent emails are automatically filed in the correct folder.

There is a handy Search feature so that you can quickly locate any folder simply by typing a few characters from the folder name.

Users have reported to getting back up to 2 hours each week that was previously lost to email.

Try QuickFile for Outlook

Method #2: Tagging Emails

Tagging basically involved tagging (or marking) an email with one or more keywords. The tagged emails can then be moved out of the Inbox to an archive folder.

You can think of tags as being similar to folders… without actually needing to create folders… or you can think of tags as keywords.

You may already have used tags to organize photos (or to organize emails inside Gmail where tags are called labels).

The great thing is that each email can have multiple tags (no more worrying about which folder the email goes into)… and you can easily see all emails with a particular tag when you need to.

Outlook’s built-in search can then be used to find the emails that you have tagged with specific keywords.

The problem with Tags however is that there is no built-in way to do it easily inside Outlook. It is difficult to tag emails and difficult to find them easily later… until now.

Automating Tagging in Outlook

If you like the idea of using Tags to organize your emails inside Outlook, then we recommend that you look at Email Tags for Outlook.

Email Tags for Outlook is a powerful addin that works inside Outlook. It saves time and ensures that emails are tagged correctly by recommending tags (A list of tags is also automatically maintained).

It can automatically move your tagged emails out of your Inbox to an archive folder so that your Inbox only shows you what you still need to work on.

Email Tags can also tag outgoing emails so that they are automatically organized with your received emails.

Best of all it has a powerful search feature to locate your tagged emails later.

Try Email Tags for Outlook

How to choose what works best for YOU!

It depends on that nature of your work!

If you are already used to Tags then tagging emails should work well for you, particularly when used with Email Tags for Outlook.

Other people may find Folders easier because it mirrors the concept of folders in the paper world that we have all grown used to.

In our experience Folders work particularly well for people who work with well-defined projects.

We already have thousands of Lawyers, Engineers, Architects etc. using QuickFile for Outlook to save hours of billable time each month that was previously lost managing Outlook email folders.

We hope this post helps you make the right choice to have a more organized and productive Outlook.

 

CTA EmailTags

Searching for emails using multiple email tags

By standss · Comments ( 0 ) Thursday, September 26th, 2013

Many of our users now use Email Tags to organize their emails instead of folders. We had recently updated Email Tags with a new search screen that was much easier to use. It had removed some functionality that we thought that users did not need. We were wrong.

Several users wrote to use requesting that we bring back the ability to Search for emails that have been tagged with more than one keyword e.g. find all emails that have the tags “Quote” and “Product X”.

We are happy to announce that we have restored this functionality in Version 1.1.5017. You can download the latest version of Email Tags from our website.

Setting up Email Tags to use the Old Search Screen

You can use the settings screen to decide whether you wish to use the new style Search screen (which does not support searching by multiple tags) or the old style search screen (which supports searching by multiple tags).

The new style screen is selected by default. To change this:

  • Open Outlook
  • On the ribbon, click on the Standss Outlook Addins tab
  • In the EmailTags group, click More > Settings
  • Tick the checkbox for “Allow (old style) searching for multiple tags”
  • Click OK

Searching for emails with multiple tags

Click the Search button in the Email Tags group on the ribbon. The following Search screen will be displayed (provided you changed the settings screen)

tag and search email

  • Enter your Search terms in the Tags field (separate multiple tags with commas).
  • Click OK.

Let us know whether you prefer the old or new style search screen by leaving a comment on the blog.

More information on Email Tags

EmailTags for Outlook addin is a handy and reliable tool designed to make it easier to find emails in your Outlook Inbox. With EmailTags, you can quickly tag your emails with keywords like customer name, project name, etc and later find the emails easily by searching for one or more of this tags.

You can watch a short demo video or download a fully functional 30 day trial from our website now to see for yourself how fast and easy EmailTags really is.

Here is what one user (of the many) has to say about EmailTags:

“My InBox has never had so few emails in it because of EmailTags. It’s incredibly easy to tag emails and file them. Outlook is better organized now than it ever has been.” – Chuck Coleman

EmailTags version 1.1.5017 Released: Reintroduce Search emails with Multiple Tags

By standss · Comments ( 0 ) Thursday, September 26th, 2013

The latest version of EmailTags for Outlook is now available for download from our website. This update is free for all existing users. The updates includes a number of “new” features as well as bug fixes.

What’s New?

EmailTags Outlook addin has had a great response from users. We continuously get emails from users suggesting how we can make it even better.

One of the new features in this release is actually an old feature that we have reintroduced as a result of demand from existing users.

Several users wrote to use requesting that we bring back the ability to Search for emails that have been tagged with more than one keyword e.g. find all emails that have the tags “Quote” and “Product X”.

The full list of features/bug fixes in this version include:

  • Allow (old style) searching for multiple tags (reintroduced based on user demand)
  • Apply Windows theme on all addin screens
  • Right-click on an email to Tag IT now available in Outlook 2013
  • Bug fix: In Outlook 2007, if you select a meeting request, error message comes-up
  • Added OutlookVersionCheck in the deployment MSI so that a prompt comes up if the wrong version of MSI is being installed based on the Outlook version (32 bit or 64 bit).

You can download the latest version now from our website.

New to EmailTags: Watch a short demo video on our website or you can also download a fully functional 30 day trial version of EmailTags.

Thanks to everyone who have written to us and if you have any comments, ideas, suggestions for EmailTags, feel free to write to us. We really value your feedbacks and try to make our outlook addins work the way you want.

Myth: Sorting and Organizing emails makes us more productive

By standss · Comments ( 1 ) Thursday, September 19th, 2013

A recent study by the University of California found that email technologies are now so good that filing emails into folders may actually make them harder to find! It also wastes more of your time both filing and finding emails.

I moved my own email organization system to a non-folder based system some time ago. I was a little apprehensive when I first made the move but the results have been well worth it.

How/why do I use an Archive folder?

Although I don’t use project/client based folders for emails anymore, I don’t use my Inbox to hold everything. Instead I have created an Archive folder inside Outlook.

Once I have finished with an email, I either DELETE it or ARCHIVE it. This way my Inbox only contains emails that I still need to work on.

You can Archive your email simply by dragging and dropping it into the Archive folder.

You can also use the categories feature of Outlook to tag your emails with keywords (project names, client names etc) so that they are easier to find.

A large part of my day is spent in Outlook and I use Email Tags for Outlook to automate the archiving and finding process.

Finding Emails in the Archive folder

In the “old” days, folders were used so that we could find emails later. Under this new system, all your old emails are in the one Archive folder.

I find that Outlook’s own built-in Search is now good enough to quickly find emails for me. You can go to the Archive folder and use Outlook’s Search box.

Outlook Archive folder

You will see in the image above that I have also added the Archive folder to Favorites (inside Outlook) to make it even easier for me to jump to that folder when I want to.

As mentioned earlier, I also use Email Tags for Outlook to tag my emails with Project Names etc. Email Tags also has a special search function which makes my emails even more findable( and groupable… I can see all emails in a project as if they were in a folder… without the effort and time of filing in folders)

All you need is Outlook… but Email Tags can save you a lot of time

The archiving system described above works with nothing but what comes built into Outlook. However if you spend a lot of time writing and responding to emails, Email Tags will pay for itself in a few days.

Here’s what one customer said…

” … One of the most useful software applications we own … No more lost e-mails, no more trying to figure out which folder I put it in, no time wasted searching for an e-mail.”
– Justin Henderson

You can go here to Download a Fully Functional Trial of Email Tags or View a Short Demo Video.

Improve Outlook Search by Editing the Subject of Received Emails

By standss · Comments ( 1 ) Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

A reader recently asked if it was possible to edit the Subject of Outlook emails. He wanted to put in terms that would make the emails easier to find using Outlook Search later. The short answer is YES.

Here is how to edit the subject:

  • Open Outlook
  • Double-click on the message you want to edit to open in a new window
  • In Outlook 2003 or earlier, click Edit > Edit Message
    In Outlook 2007, on the Message tab go to the Actions group > click Other Actions > Edit Message
    In Outlook 2010/2013, on the Message tab go to the Move group > click Actions > Edit Message

edit_message_ribbon

  • Make the changes to the email subject (and body if required)
  • When done editing, close the email and you will be prompt to keep the changes or not. Click Yes to save the changes.

NOTE: I don’t personally change the Subject of emails. Instead I use Email Tags to tag my emails with keywords for searching later.

We will also be releasing a report in the next few days to give you a much better method of controlling your to-dos from your Inbox. Subscribe to our Outlook Tips Newsletter to get a free copy of the report when it is ready.

How to tag (Categorizing) Outlook email for easier finding

By standss · Comments ( 1 ) Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

There has been a shift away from filing things into folders and to using tags/categories over the last few years. This can be seen in programs such as EverNote, Gmail, Picasa… Here is a simple way that you can apply tagging to your emails in Outlook.

We’ve built Email Tags for Outlook on top of Outlook categories to give you the perfect email tagging (and finding) solution.

Outlook’s built-in categories provide a good start to email tagging because they allow the same email to have more than one category.

Here is how Email Tags makes it even better.

How to tag an Outlook email using Email Tags

Email Tags adds a couple of buttons to your Outlook ribbon/toolbar.

email_tags_menu

Click Tag It to display the Email Tags screen.

tag_file_screen

Email Tags has built in intelligence to recommend tags to you. Alternatively you can type in a new tag or select a tag from your list of tags directly on that screen.

You can even choose to file the email out of your Inbox with the tag, all in one step.

Email Tags will also prompt you to tag your Sent Emails so that all your emails are organized properly.

Video: How to organize and find emails using tags instead of folders

How to search for emails that you have tagged in Outlook

The main reason for tagging emails is so that they are easy to find later. Finding tagged Outlook emails is easy if you’re a Email Tags user.

Just click the Search button on the Email Tags toolbar to display a full list of your tags.

search tags

Click on a Tag (in the list) and Outlook will carry out a Search and display all relevant emails to you.

Watch demo video of Email Tags for Outlook

If you haven’t tried Email Tags yet, you can download a fully functional 30 day trial to see just how easy it is to organize and find emails using tags instead of folders.

Email Tags Update: Better Search and Undo (plus bug fixes)

By standss · Comments ( 0 ) Friday, July 26th, 2013

This update has a number of MAJOR new features that users have been asking for. The update is free for existing users.

A Better Search

Members of our team agreed with users that the Search screen was not as easy to use as it could be. Although people have started to use tags, many of us still think in folders. The new Search screen recognizes this and provides a much better user experience.

search_tags

You can still search for a Tag or simply select from the full lit of tags on the Screen. Searches are carried out immediately on selection.

Undo Feature and better buttons on the Ribbon.

This is one that we felt was essential after accidentally tagging emails when we meant to do a Search. We have improved the buttons on the Ribbon so that it is almost impossible to accidentally do a Search when you meant to tag an email.

emailtags_menu

… plus we have added an Undo button to the Ribbon that will allow you to reverse the last tagging operation that you have done.

Click Here to download the latest version of Emailtags for Outlook

We hope you find that these updates improve your Email Tagging experience. If you have other ideas for updates, please let us know.

Changing where Outlook Searches Emails by Default

By standss · Comments ( 3 ) Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

Last week we had some tips on searching Outlook emails. Here’s how you can tweak things further by controlling where Outlook searches by default.

Outlook 2013/2016
Type anything in the Search Box and Outlook will search the current folder except if you’re in the Inbox. If you’re in the Inbox, Outlook searches all folders in the current mail box.

Since I have started using Email Tags, I now organize my emails by Tags instead of folders. As a result I prefer for my Searches to be in ALL MAILBOXES and not just the current mail box. Here’s how you can change the setting in Outlook 2013 to search All Mailboxes.

  • Open Outlook
  • Click File > Options
  • Click the Search tab to display Search Options.

Outlook Search Options

  • Select All Mailboxes and click OK

Now when you do a search, Outlook will search in all mailboxes by default.

In Outlook 2010/2007, there is not an option to search all Mailbox but you can search all “All folders” by default.

Here’s a quick setting changing that will force Outlook to search all mail items by default.

In Outlook 2010:

  • Click File > Options
  • Click the Search tab to display Search Options.

search all folders outlook 2010

  • Click All folders and then click OK

In Outlook 2007:

  • Click Tools > Options
  • Click the Search Options button on the Preferences tab to display the Search Options box.

search all folders outlook 2007

  • Click All folders and then click OK.

It’s a small tweak but it could save you a lot of clicks.

Do you have any other Search tricks that you find useful. Share it with other readers by leaving a comment on the blog.

Tagging makes it easier to file the same email in two Outlook folders

By standss · Comments ( 0 ) Thursday, April 11th, 2013

I recently changed my Outlook email organization system from filing emails in separate folders to putting them all in one folder and then organizing them with Tags (Categories).

Tagging emails is similar to Gmail style labels but is now available inside Outlook using Email Tags for Outlook.

An email that I archived today clearly demonstrated one of the advantages of tagging over folder based filing.

Tagging makes it easier to “file” an email in two folders.

I made a payment for some translation work that we are getting done. When I received the receipt I needed to file the email in two places… Receipts and Translation Project.

Actually… I don’t need to file it in the two place… I want to be able to find them under either of those two topics. If I had been using folder based filing, I would have had to make a copy of the email and then filed separate copies in the two folders.

With EmailTags I can tag the same email with both categories.

tag and file

Then using Outlooks built in Search (or Email Tags enhanced Tag Search), I can easily find the email later when I need it.

NEW TO EMAILTAGS: Watch a short demo video on our website or you can also download a fully functional trial version of the EmailTags Outlook addon.

Do you have other methods of filing (tagging) and finding emails in Outlook?

Share it with us by leaving a comment below.

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