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.

 

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QuickFile for Outlook awarded A+ rating by TechnoLawyer SmallLaw

By standss · Comments ( 2 ) Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

QuickFile for Outlook was recently reviewed for TechnoLaweyer’s SmallLaw publication by New Jersey lawyer Edward Zohn.

His gave it an A+ rating and summarised that:

a-plus-smalllaw-small

QuickFile easily fulfils its promise. Even if you have a modest Outlook folder structure, you will immediately start saving time.

It’s all very painless. There’s no need for Outlook’s tedious dialogs, no need to monitor the “Sent Items” folder, and no need to memorize your folder tree.

Download the full QuickFile Review.

The review is basically a CASE STUDY on using email management in a legal firm or any professional firm.

Get more information and download a fully functional trial of QuickFile for Outlook addon

About Small Law and TechnoLawyer

Written by practicing lawyers who manage small successful firms and legal technology and practice management experts who jave achieved rock star status, SmallLaw provides practical advice on management, marketing and technology oissues in small law fiorms, as well as comprehensive legal product reviews with accompanying TechnoScore ratings. technolawyer/smalllaw

Categories : Company News, Press, QuickFile for Outlook Comments ( 2 )

Take action on your Outlook emails at the click of a button (QuickSteps)

By standss · Comments ( 2 ) Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

You can reclaim a lot of your time and energy wasted on emails by automating repetitive tasks. Outlook has a built-in feature called Quick-Steps that makes it easy to create your own automations.

The easiest way to show you the power of QuickSteps is with an example.

Our company owns a property that is rented out. The property is managed by another company for us. When any repairs etc need to be carried out, they get the appropriate vendors to come in and do the work. Once the work is successfully completed they send us a copy of the vendor’s invoice so that we can pay the vendor directly. These emails are usually sent to me.

When I receive these emails, and assuming that everything is OK, I do the following:

1.       Forward the email to my Accounts person and advise them to make the payment (Click Forward, type the person’s email address, type Please Pay and then click Send)

2.       File a copy of the original email in a folder inside Outlook called Properties. (This can be done by dragging and dropping or using QuickFile for Outlook.

You can use QuickSteps to reduce all of the above to the CLICK OF ONE BUTTON.

Creating the QuickStep

On the Home tab of the Ribbon, click QuickSteps-New QuickStep -Forward To

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Enter an appropriate name.

If I only wanted to forward the email (And not do the second filing step), I can simply enter the email address in the space provided and clicked Finish).

Click Options.

Click the Show Options hyperlink.

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Enter an email address in the To field (or click the To button and choose an email address).

Enter any text that you want to be displayed in the email that will be forwarded.

The QuickStep now contains everything needed to Forward the email. Time to add the filing component.

Click Add Action

Choose Move to Folder and select the folder you want to move the email to.

Click Save

Note on an Outlook Bug:

There is a bug in Outlook that sometimes prevents the QuickStep from being saved. Clicking Save does not give an error message but the screen does not close either. If this happens to you, the solution is to type the whole email address again (the email that was in the To field earlier).

Using the QuickStep

Using the QuickStep is easy.

Click QuickStep on the Ribbon and select the new QuickStep. Outlook will automatically carry out your programmed actions.

You can also right-click over the email in your Inbox and select QuickSteps from there.

Start automating today…

What do you do daily that you can use QuickSteps for? Let us know by leaving a comment in the blog below.

(While QuickSteps can assist with email filing as shown in the example above, if you have more than just a few folders, we recommend the QuickFile for Outlook addin.

 

 

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

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)

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

8 Simple tips for Email Management in Microsoft Outlook

By standss · Comments ( 0 ) Thursday, June 5th, 2014

During the recent launch of our newest QuickFile for Outlook addin, we carried out survey’s and also spoke to a few readers and customers personally to find out if they needed help with filing and retrieving emails. This is what I found out…

Many users still do NOT have a system for filing their emails. Even users who KNEW they needed a system were not using one … They either don’t have the time or enough information to get started.

The top 3 reasons reported by users for not implementing an email management system are:

Reason #1: Outlook’s built-in automatic filing tools (Rules and Auto-Archive) don’t seem to move things logically for me!

I agree 100%! That’s why in tips #1 and #2 of this upcoming blog post tips series I advise you to turn these features OFF. We’re going to show you an easier way… that still does not need anything outside Outlook or learning a new software.

Reason #2: I don’t have the time.

I think a reader said it best…

When should I file? If I am busy with work then e-mails just build up, if I am busy with e-mails, my work does not get done. (John)

In the next few weeks we’re going to introduce to you a system that takes very little extra time but still gets all your filing done. In the next few weeks, we’ll show you some additional tips to bring the time down to (almost) zero.

Reason #3: How should I structure my email management system… there seems to be so many different ways of doing this.

I like to keep things as simple as possible so I normally recommend to my clients… Create a folder structure inside Outlook that matches the way you file your paper documents. It makes it much easier to find emails (or for that matter anything) later if they’re all filed using the same system.

You can create and use a simple email management system TODAY… with nothing more than Outlook.  This system is already being used by thousands of our customers around the world.  Let’s get started…

In the next few weeks, I will be providing step-by-step instructions for a VERY SIMPLE email management system that will work for any businessperson who works with clients, projects or cases.  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.

By now you all must be wondering if this is going to be a
FREE tips series or will you have to pay to join?

The tips that I will be sharing with you in the next few weeks has been shared to me by YOU so how can it be charged, therefore this is an absolutely FREE tips series.

I will be posting the tips on this blog in the order that I feel would give you a simple and efficient email management system so I recommend that you go through the tips in the order in which they are presented as they build on each other.

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.

Whats next?

In Tip #1 and #2 next week, I will be showing you why you should not be using Outlook’s Auto-Archiving and Rules feature and how to turn it OFF.

Till then… Have a Better Outlook.

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Showing subfolders in QuickFile Version 5

By standss · Comments ( 0 ) Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

QuickFile makes it easy to find a folder but what do you do if you need to see its subfolders too. Previous versions of QuickFile showed you the folders in a way that let you expand folders to show its subfolders. Here’s how to view subfolders in QuickFile Version 5.

Please note that this feature is only available in QuickFile 5.0.5252. If you need to, you can download the latest version of QuickFile for Outlook from here.

Open the QuickFile screen by clicking on QuickFile or Find & Goto on the ribbon.

Blog image 2

Right click over any folder in the Best section.

Click Show Subfolders in Search Results.

The setting will be saved for you and used in all future searches. You can changes it by repeating the steps above.

Please let us know if you find this feature useful by leaving a comment below.

New to QuickFile: Click QuickFile for Outlook Version 5 for more information on the easiest way to file and find your emails in Outlook.

Removing Suggestions in QuickFile Version 5

By standss · Comments ( 0 ) Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

Folder recommendations in QuickFile are significantly more accurate in QuickFile Version 5. However there may be cases where you want to remove a suggestion (e.g. if you accidentally used a folder).

Step by Step

Open the QuickFile screen by clicking on QuickFile or Find & Goto on the ribbon.

blog image

Right click over any folder in the Best section.

Click Remove from Best.

If the suggestion was for this particular contact or conversation, it will be removed from the list of suggestions.

New to QuickFile: Click QuickFile for Outlook Version 5 for more information on the easiest way to file and find your emails in Outlook.

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80-20 Rule Applied to Outlook Emails (stay focused on real work)

By standss · Comments ( 1 ) Friday, October 18th, 2013

I’m sure everyone is aware of the famous 80-20 rule and apply it to your business model (we do at Standss). In this post I will show you how the 80-20 rule can be applicable to handling emails to get the best results so read on…

For those who are not aware, this principle states that most of our results (80%) come from a small portion of our actual work (20%).  An example in terms of sales is 80% of our sales come from 20% of our customers.

How does this apply to emails?

Well, check your inbox now, I’m sure you will notice that out of all the emails in your inbox, only a small portion would actually be important or those which will yield you the most return.

In the next few posts, we will share some simple tips that will ensure you are focusing only on emails that are ACTUALLY work-related and yield you the best results (leads, sales, productivity boost etc). Here is the first tip in this post.

Tip 1:  Use Outlook Rules to Process Newsletter emails

Do you subscribe to email newsletters? Newsletter can be informative and interesting but they also distract you from your real work. So rather than deleting or manually filing each newsletter, you can setup a simple rule using Outlook Rules to automatically file your newsletters to a separate folder.

This way you are not distracted from your real work, your inbox remains clean and you can easily find the newsletters later when you want to read them.

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 Home tab > In the Move group, click Rules > Manage Rules & Alerts…
    In Outlook 2007, Click Tools > Click Rules & Alerts
  • Click New Rule to display the Rules Wizard.

outlook rules wizard

  • 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.

outlook rule address

  • Choose a name from the list or type in the name/email address 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.

Once the rule is created, any emails coming from the email address will automatically be moved to the chosen folder.

To apply the rule to existing newsletters in the folder, go back to the Rules and Alerts screen and click “Run Rules Now” button

If you don’t like using the Outlook rules, you can try QuickFile Pro for Outlook addin. This addin also has a special Newsletter feature which moves emails to dedicated folders automatically PLUS reminds you at a time of your choosing to look at your newsletter.

I hope you find this tip useful.

We will share more tips in the next post on how to stay focused on real work to get the best results from the least effort, so stay tuned.

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