The Best use of Outlook Rules to improve Productivity (and Reduce Distraction time)

By standss · Comments ( 1 ) Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

I have written on several occasions that I don’t use the Outlook Rules much but I have now managed to find an excellent use of this feature which has helped me stay focused and improve my productivity.

Do you subscribe to any email newsletters, mailing lists or groups?

I often find myself going to check my email and 30 minutes later all I have done is read through “interesting” articles instead of doing any real work.

Microsoft’s built-in Rules feature provides a solution.

Let’s start off with a bit of background about Outlook Rules for “Outlook Newbies”

What are Rules in Outlook?

According to Outlook 2013 Help…

“A rule is an action that Microsoft Office Outlook takes automatically on an arriving or sent message that meets the conditions that you specify in the rule”

For example… you can set a Rule to automatically move emails from a particular email address out of the Inbox to another folder.

Normally I don’t use Rules much because…

My Inbox is my To-Do list.

I don’t want anything automatically moved out of it. Even Outlook automatically moving items after they are read is NOT acceptable because I sometimes leave stuff in there to deal with later.

I want to move emails out myself after I have finished with them – I need to stay in control of my Inbox.

I use QuickFile for Outlook to simplify email filing out of my Inbox (and Sent Items).

But in this situation it makes sense…

I want the newsletter emails moved out of my Inbox and into a folder dedicated to newsletters.

These emails are not part of my daily to-do-list and I prefer to go through them when I take a break from real work.

How to create a Rule?

BEFORE creating the Rule, create a folder inside Outlook where you want the newsletter emails to be moved to. Then…

  • Go to your Inbox
  • If you are using Outlook 2013/2010. Click on File and select the Info tab and then click on Manage Rules & Alerts.
  • For all other versions of Outlook, click Tools and then click Rules & Alerts.
  • Click on New Rule… to display the Rules Wizard as shown below:

manage_outlook_rules

  • Move Messages from someone to a folder” will already be highlighted. (This example assumes that the newsletters come from the same email address – otherwise you can use one of the other predefined Rule Templates)
  • Click “people or distribution list” to display the Rule Address screen.

rules_address

  • Choose a name from the list or type in the name in the From field and then click OK.
  • Click the hyperlink word “specified” to bring up the Choose Folder dialog. Select the desired folder from the list and then click OK.

Now that the Rule is created, any emails coming from the list will automatically be moved to the chosen folder.

You can also apply it to any emails that are already in the folder by going back to the Rules and Alerts screen and clicking the “Run Rules Now” button.

Use Rules in this way to move emails that you know are NOT part of your REAL WORK.

This keeps your Inbox clean and focused on things that need your attention.

I recommend that you don’t use Rules to shift work related emails.

Keep them coming to your Inbox and use a tool like QuickFile for Outlook to manage their filing. 

outlook_search

How to Tag (Categorize) Emails in Outlook so that it is easier to find them later

By standss · Comments ( 5 ) Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

In the last post I showed you how most Outlook users were changing the subject of the emails to make the email findable later.

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

My suggestion appeared to grab the attention of a lot of Outlook user’s who were till date changing the subject of their email BECAUSE there was no other way of making the emails findable. They requested me to elaborate more on what EmailTag was and how to use it.

I realized there might be others facing the same problem so thought to do a blog post explaining about Email Tags.

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 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.

Click Tag It to display the Email Tags 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.

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.

CTA EmailTags

Bonus Tip #5: Fix up Email Subjects so that it is easier to find emails later

By standss · Comments ( 0 ) Thursday, August 21st, 2014

This again is NOT something that I do or recommend. I prefer to leave received emails exactly as they are. However several users asked if it was possible to change the Email Subject so that it is easier to find the email later.

Here’s how…

  • Open the email by double-clicking on it.
  • In Outlook 2013/2010 , go to the Message tab > click the Actions button under the Actions group > click Edit Message
  • For Outlook 2007 > Click Other Actions -> Edit.
  • For Outlook 2003 > click Edit -> Edit message.
  • Now make any changes that you need to (The Subject can also be changed even though it appears to be read-only).
  • Click Save (or close the email and you will be prompted to Save it).

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

Let us know of any other ways you use to easily find your emails in Outlook by leaving a comment below.

oi_search

Related Post:

BONUS TIPS: Fine-Tuning your Email Filing System (Even More)

Bonus Tip #2: Compact your Outlook Data for Better Performance

Bonus Tip #3: BCC yourself on important emails (or use a Rule to copy sent emails to your Inbox)

Bonus Tip #4: Create Tasks or Calendar Items for Emails that need your action

Bonus Tip #4: Create Tasks or Calendar Items for Emails that need your action

By standss · Comments ( 0 ) Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

If you use the Outlook Calendar or Tasks List to get your work done, here’s a quick tip on how to convert emails to appointments or tasks.

Why might you need this? Like me, you probably get a lot of requests to get things done via email. You also probably send many emails that you want to follow up on. I personally do not use my Tasks List or Calendar for this (I use eeminders for Outlook addin which lets me use my Inbox as my To Do list. However if you use your Tasks List or Calendar, this is what you can do.

Options 1: (FREE) Create a Task or Appointment from Emails

To create a Task or Calendar item from an email…

1. Make sure that your folders are displayed in Outlook.

2. Right-click on the email (and keep the right button pressed) and then drag-and-drop the email into your Calendar or Tasks folder. Three options will be displayed (Copy with Attachment, Copy with Text and Move with Attachment).

3. I normally select Move or Copy with Attachment. This allows me to open the resulting task (or calendar item) which has the email attached to it. I can then double-click on the attached email and Reply or Forward it as needed.

Option 2: File and create the appointment/task automatically when you click Send

If you send out a lot of emails that you need to follow up on, I would recommend QuickFile for Outlook. It automatically prompts you every time you send an email out. The email will be filed to the correct folder after it is sent and your follow-up task or calendar item will be created for you.

send&file

Option 3: Get your reminders at the top of your Inbox on the correct day and time

I have personally found that I forget to look at my Calendar and Task List and as a result many actions get left undone. I have started using eeminders which shows me what I need to work on at the top of my Inbox. You can watch a demo video or download a trial version of eeminders for Outlook from here.

I hope you find this tips useful.

Do you know of other ways to schedule your work and complete them on time?

Share it with us by leaving a comment below.

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Related Post:

BONUS TIPS: Fine-Tuning your Email Filing System (Even More)

Bonus Tip #2: Compact your Outlook Data for Better Performance

Bonus Tip #3: BCC yourself on important emails (or use a Rule to copy sent emails to your Inbox)

Bonus Tip #3: BCC yourself on important emails (or use a Rule to copy sent emails to your Inbox)

By standss · Comments ( 0 ) Thursday, August 14th, 2014

Welcome back folks… today we are sharing with you another tip which was shared by a Outlook user.

This is not something that I do myself but I am sharing this as several users indicated that they use these technique. Some background first…

Several readers said that they prefer to have emails that they need to follow up on in their Inbox i.e. after they have sent an email; they would like to have a copy of the email in their Inbox too. The two techniques shared by users were:

BCC Yourself on emails that you need to follow up on
This is easy… simply BCC yourself on emails that you are sending out and you want/need to follow up on.

After the email is sent, you will also receive a copy in your Inbox. Because you have BCC’ed yourself, the other recipients will not know that you were also a recipient.

Or Use a Rule to copy sent emails to your Inbox
You can also setup a Rule to copy ALL emails that you send to your Inbox. Once the email copies arrive in your Inbox, manually Delete the emails that you don’t need to follow-up on.

As mentioned earlier… I don’t use this technique myself but users say that the extra Delete step takes almost no time.

I personally think having copies of emails in your inbox that you will not be working on immediately can be distracting and unproductive… having so many emails in the inbox makes me feel I haven’t done my work today (when in fact I have)

How I personally organize my Follow-ups in Outlook you may ask?

Well in my most biased opinion… I personally use eeminders for Outlook and like the fact that it automatically pops a reminder for emails that I need to deal with on the day that I actually need to deal with it.

  • This does not cause my Inbox to be cluttered with follow-up emails and
  • I don’t have to scroll through emails to find the one I need to deal with. Eeminders reminders me when I need to work on a email.

There is no right or wrong way of doing this… it’s just a matter of preference so I leave the choice to you to choose the best method that suits your style of work.

If you are interested to try eeminders, you can download a fully functional 30 day trial from our website.

Let us know which method you prefer by leaving a comment below.

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Related Post:

BONUS TIPS: Fine-Tuning your Email Filing System (Even More)

Bonus Tip #2: Compact your Outlook Data for Better Performance

Bonus Tip #2: Compact your Outlook Data for Better Performance

By standss · Comments ( 0 ) Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

In one of our earlier tips from the 8 Simple tips for Email Management in Outlook series… I had mentioned to you that Outlook is configured (by default) to eventually corrupt itself and lose some or maybe even all your data?

Backing up your Outlook data is one way to avoid data loss but here is another way that you can ensure your data file size remains small and compact.

If you are following the email filing tips in our first report, then you are moving emails around a lot. When you move emails around, your Outlook data file (PST) ends up with a lot of empty space in it which makes the file bigger and performance slower.

To fix this…

  • Open Outlook and display mail folders.
  • Right-click over the PST file that you wish to compact

properties

  • Click Properties.
  • Click the Advanced button.
  • Click Compact Now.

This will now compact the data file and get rid of the empty spaces which is caused by moving emails.

This will result in your Outlook data file remaining small in size, faster Outlook performance and ultimately reduce the chance of losing your previous data.

I hope you find this tip useful.

Till next time… have a better Outlook.

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Related Post:

BONUS TIPS: Fine-Tuning your Email Filing System (Even More)

BONUS TIPS: Fine-Tuning your Email Filing System (Even More)

By standss · Comments ( 2 ) Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

Earlier this week we released our free special report titled: 8 Simple Tips for Email Management in Microsoft Outlook.

I was truly overwhelmed by the feedback I received from readers. Hundreds of users wrote back saying how the tips discussed in the ebook was already helping them.

“I have implemented your suggestions and it has improved my work flow already”
Norman 
(This was received few days after release of the report)

Other users (who were already using similar techniques) wrote back with their own ideas to further fine tune the Outlook Email Management System.

If you haven’t read the first report yet, I recommend you download and understand the ideas in that first. You can download the report now from:

In the next few weeks… I will be sharing the additional tips that has been shared with me by Outlook users. Remember these are tips that are being used by actual users and it has worked for them.

If you are struggling to manage your emails in Outlook… stay with us and follow the tips to overcome this common email overload problem.

TIP #1: Use Rules for Non-Actionable Items (e.g. newsletters)

In the first report, I said that you should “Think carefully before using Outlook Rules”. The main reason for this is that Rules shift emails out of your Inbox before you’ve had a chance to see them.

Like me, you probably use your Inbox as a To-Do list i.e. emails are kept in your Inbox until you have carried out the required action. This means you should avoid using Rules except…

We all receive emails that do not require immediate action (or for that matter any action)… how many email newsletters do you subscribe to that you want to read in your spare time. Getting those emails into your Inbox can be a bit of a distraction.

For those non-actionable emails, it makes sense to use Rules to move them out of your Inbox.

How to create a Rule

BEFORE creating the Rule, create a folder inside Outlook where you want the newsletter emails to be moved to. Then…

  • Go to your Inbox
  • In Outlook 2013/2010, Click the File tab > Click Manage Rules & Alerts. In the Rules and Alerts dialog box, on the E-mail Rules tab, click New Rule.
  • In Outlook 2007/2003, click Tools > Click Rules & Alerts > Click New Rule to display the Rules Wizard

manage_outlook_rules

  • Move Messages from someone to a folder” will already be highlighted. (This example assumes that the newsletters come from the same email address – otherwise you can use one of the other predefined Rule Templates)
  • Click “people or distribution list” to display the Rule Address screen.

rules_address

  • Choose a name from the list or type in the name in the “From” field and then click OK.
  • Click the hyperlinked word “specified” to bring up the Choose Folder dialog. Select the desired folder from the list and then click OK.

Now that the Rule is created, any emails coming from the list will automatically be moved to the chosen folder.

You can also apply it to any emails that are already in the folder by going back to the Rules and Alerts screen and clicking the “Run Rules Now” button.

Try this tip… it surely has saved me several hours of time that was wasted moving or deleting this emails manually one at a time.

Hope you find this tip helpful… let us know if this works for you or not by leaving a comment below.

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Free E-book Ready for Download: 8 Simple Tips for Email Management in Outlook

By standss · Comments ( 0 ) Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

As promised… I have compiled all the 8 tips we have discussed over the past several weeks into a simple downloadable and printable PDF copy.

Use these simple tips to:

  1. Ensure that your Outlook data file does not get bloated, slow-down and eventually corrupt itself and die (causing possible loss of some if not all your e-mails)
  2. Backup the correct Outlook data files in case of hardware failure
  3. Organize your emails so that your E-mail Folders matches your paper filing structure
  4. File your e-mails in a way that lets you quickly see all correspondence (incoming, out-going, to and from anyone) for a project quickly and easily in one place
  5. Get some control over your e-mails and use your Inbox like a proper In-tray holding only the items that need your attention.
  6. Easily archive e-mails for completed projects with other electronic documents (Word files, Excel files etc) for the same project.
  7. Quickly find specific e-mails for a project.

Get your own copy of this FREE e-book now!!!


Next week I will be sharing some additional bonus tips which I feel will help you manage your emails even better… so do check in again.

Till next time… have a safe and better Outlook.

Tip# 8 of 8: File (COPY) the e-mails out of your Sent Items folder

By standss · Comments ( 0 ) Thursday, July 17th, 2014

Welcome back folks to the final tip of the 8 simple tips for email management in Outlook series.

We started of this tips series to overcome a common problem… EMAIL OVERLOAD and I had promised to provide step-by-step instructions for a VERY SIMPLE email management system that will work for any businessperson who works with clients, projects or cases. Following this tips, you should be able to:

  1. Ensure that your Outlook data file does not get bloated, slow-down and eventually corrupt itself and die (causing possible loss of some if not all your e-mails)
  2. Backup the correct Outlook data files in case of hardware failure
  3. Organize your emails so that your E-mail Folders matches your paper filing structure
  4. File your e-mails in a way that lets you quickly see all correspondence (incoming, out-going, to and from anyone) for a project quickly and easily in one place
  5. Get some control over your e-mails and use your Inbox like a proper In-tray holding only the items that need your attention.
  6. Easily archive e-mails for completed projects with other electronic documents (Word files, Excel files etc) for the same project.
  7. Quickly find specific e-mails for a project.

Last week we looked at how to keep a clean and organized Outlook Inbox so it acts like a To-do list rather than a storage space.

Today we will look at organizing your Sent emails because this emails are as important and crucial as your incoming emails.

The e-mails that you write to your clients can be crucial for
clarification and dispute resolution later.

E-mails that you send are moved from the Outbox to the Sent Items folder after they have been sent.

You must move or copy the e-mails that you want to keep for future reference from the Sent Items folder to the appropriate folders in your E-mail Filing System. Any remaining e-mails can be deleted (or left in the Sent Items folder if you want).

Our customers tell us that they prefer to have a copy of the email filed in the relevant project folder and also leave a copy in the Sent Items folder. This enables them to fill in timesheets at the end of the day, quickly answer queries about something sent in the last few days etc.

How do you copy emails instead of moving them?

  • Right-click (instead of Left-click) and then drag and drop.
  • When you drop the email (release the right mouse button) you will get presented with the option to Copy or Move. Click on Copy.

In our experience, Sent e-mails are the Number 1 reason that E-mail Filing Systems fail so… set aside some time periodically (at the end of the day or week) to move these e-mails to the correct folder

This brings us to the end of this 8 Simple Tips for Email Management in Outlook series.

I do hope that you have found this tips useful and hopefully are ruling over your emails rather than the other way around.

This tips have worked for thousands of people and there is no reason why it shouldn’t work for you so if you still haven’t gone through this step by step, here are quick links to all the post.

Tip #1 of 8: Turn Off Auto-Archiving in Outlook
You should archive e-mails as projects are completed. Don’t disorganize yourself by archiving based on dates.

Tip #2 of 8: Think carefully before using Outlook Rules
Rules can cause you to miss taking action on certain e-mails and also filing them into incorrect folders.

Tip #3 of 8: Find out where your Outlook data file is and backup regularly
How can you be sure that your Outlook data is being backed up if you don’t know where it is?

Tip #4 of 8: Split your Outlook data into more than one file
This technique will stop your e-mail file from getting bloated, slow and eventually corrupting itself and dying.

Tip #5 of 8: File your e-mails using the same folder structure as you do for your paper files
Filing e-mails into folders makes it much quicker and easier to file, find and archive e-mails later.

Tip# 6 of 8: Setup Outlook so that it is easy to drag and drop e-mails to the correct folders

Tip# 7 of 8: File things out of your Inbox as soon as you have READ the e-mail

What’s Next…

A lot of our blog readers have requested for a PDF version of the tips so that they are able to recap the tips in one place and also keep a printed copy of it on their desk as a reminder to keep following this tips to manage their emails… as it is very easy to forgot this in our busy schedules.

I have started compiling all this tips into a PDF version and will have it available for download next week on our blog.

THIS WILL BE AVAILABLE FOR FREE SO DO CHECK IN TO GET YOUR OWN COPY

Tip# 7 of 8: File things out of your Inbox as soon as you have READ the e-mail

By standss · Comments ( 0 ) Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

In the last tip, we showed you how to configure Outlook to make it easy for you to drag and drop emails out of your Inbox to dedicated client or project folders.

Your inbox should not be your filing cabinet or storage folder… it should be more like your To-do list or Actions folder.

Your Inbox should only have e-mails that you need to take action on!!!

Once you have your folder structure in place, you are ready to shift e-mails out of your Inbox.

If you have left your e-mails in the Inbox until now, it may take you some time to move all the e-mails out to the appropriate folders. You can do it now or do it later but DO IT.

In the meantime make sure that at least the new e-mails that you receive are filed properly.

Ideally, you should move your e-mails out of your Inbox IMMEDIATELY after reading them… unless it’s urgent and you will be taking action (reply, forward or delete) on them in the next few minutes.

Drag and drop the e-mails from the Inbox to the appropriate folder.

To drag and drop the ORIGINAL email:

  • Left-click on the mouse and hold the button on the e-mail that you want to shift.
  • Drag it to the appropriate folder on the folder List.

To drag and drop a COPY of the email:

  • Right-click (instead of Left-click) and then drag and drop.  When you drop the email (release the right mouse button) you will get presented with the option to Copy or Move. Click on Copy.

If you think Drag and Drop is tedious and you always need to remember which folder a particular email needs to go to or even where the project folder is located in the first place?

I would recommend you give our QuickFile for Outlook addin a try.

QuickFile automatically learns and recommends to you the correct folder to which you are likely to file an email from a client or related to a project… just a click of a button and the email is filed to the correct folder.

You don’t need to take my word on this… try QuickFile yourself by downloading the fully functional 30 day trial version from our website.

      Time to join the conversation – what do you think?

Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below. Feel free to share your own experience and the filing system that you use to keep your inbox clean and organized with our readers.

If you have not subscribed to our blog yet, JOIN US today so we can notify you when we post the tips on our blog.

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Here are links to the earlier tips we have discussed so far in case you missed out:

Tip #1 of 8: Turn Off Auto-Archiving in Outlook
You should archive e-mails as projects are completed. Don’t disorganize yourself by archiving based on dates.

Tip #2 of 8: Think carefully before using Outlook Rules
Rules can cause you to miss taking action on certain e-mails and also filing them into incorrect folders.

Tip #3 of 8: Find out where your Outlook data file is and backup regularly
How can you be sure that your Outlook data is being backed up if you don’t know where it is?

Tip #4 of 8: Split your Outlook data into more than one file
This technique will stop your e-mail file from getting bloated, slow and eventually corrupting itself and dying.

Tip #5 of 8: File your e-mails using the same folder structure as you do for your paper files
Filing e-mails into folders makes it much quicker and easier to file, find and archive e-mails later.

Tip# 6 of 8: Setup Outlook so that it is easy to drag and drop e-mails to the correct folders

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