If you use Outlook folders to file customer, project or case/matter emails, here is a simple naming system that will help you both file and find emails later.
Your folder name should contain the following 3 parts:
Client Name: Needs no explanation but remember that the same client may have multiple projects.
Project/Matter Number (Optional): Many firms assign unique numbers to each project/matter. This number is then used in all correspondence etc. related to that project.
Project/Matter Description: A brief description of the project/matter
I recommend using those 3 part in the order shown below.
CLIENT_NAME PROJECT_NUMBER PROJECT_DESCRIPTION
For example: Acme Corporation 2017-01 Wile E Coyote Vs Roadrunner
(If you don’t use project/case/matter numbers, just leave out the project number part e.g. Acme Corporation – Wile E Coyote Vs Roadrunner)
Naming your folders in this way provides some very specific advantages for both when you want to file and find your emails later.
1. You can see all projects/matters for a particular client together in next to each other (since the folders are shown alphabetically in Outlook).
2. It is easy to identify what is in a folder even if you don’t know the project/matter number since the folder name contains both the client’s name and description.
3. If you use an Outlook addon such as QuickFile to search for folders, folders are much easier to find because you have many ways to search including the client name, project/matter number or any word from its description.
I hope that this short article helps you to make your email folders and more importantly your emails better organized. If you have many folders then we also recommend QuickFile for Outlook.
Quick Steps: Add shortcuts to the Outlook ribbon to file your emails
This week we continue our series on automating Outlook using it’s built in Quick-Steps feature. I will show you how to use Quick-Steps to add buttons to your Ribbon that will let you file emails to any folder at the click of a button.
For example, you may want to create Quick-Steps to folders for your currently active projects.
I have a few folders to which I often need to file emails to. For example, I have a Reading folder to which I read non-important emails that I want to keep for (leisure or research) reading later. I also have a folder called Keep for Now for emails that are important for the moment (e.g. an email about a golf tournament in the next few weeks).
I have created Quick-Steps for both so that I can move emails to both folder quickly.
Step-by Step: Creating the Quick-Step
Click Quick-Step on the Home tab of the Outlook ribbon.
Click New Quick Step – Move to Folder
Type in an easy to remember name for this Quick Step in the Name box
Tick the Move to folder checkbox
Select the folder to move to in the list
Untick Mark as read checkbox
Now that you Quick-Step Is saved, let’s use it
Step-by Step: Using the Quick-Step
Click on the email that you wish to apply the Quick Step to (in this case the email that I want to move)
Click Quick Step on the Ribbon and then click on the appropriate Quick Step from the list.
… and That’s it!
Quick-Steps are a great way to file emails if most of your emails go into a few folders only. However if you have many folders, you may want to try a more complete solution for filing your emails such as QuickFile for Outlook.
Studies clearly show that people who do not multi-task can focus for longer periods of time and feel also less stressed. But emails makes it difficult to NOT multi-task, particularly if you get notified each time an email comes in. This post shows you 4 things you need to can do to be more productive with emails without multi-tasking.
Turn OFF email Notifications
Be default Outlook displays a little notification in the bottom right hand corner of your screen every time an email comes in. It may also play a sound or show a little envelope icon in the taskbar.
Unless your work requires real-time notification of emails, we recommend that you turn off ALL email notifications.
Click File and then Options.
Click on the mail tab.
Scroll down to the Mail Arrival section and make sure that all the boxes are un-ticked as shown below.
Have Email Processing Scheduled in Your Calendar
Try and have a fixed time where you go through your Inbox and delete out stuff that doesn’t need to be there, respond to important emails etc.
This is your main email time during the day. Don’t worry… you will still get to see emails again later in the day.
Turn off Outlook when doing non-email related work
Many users turn to emails looking for a distraction when they are at a point in their work that is difficult or requires a decision. They turn to their Inbox hoping to find an excuse to avoid what they really need to work on.
You’re less likely to do this if your Outlook is closed… and even if you do, the time Outlook takes to start up will remind you to go back to your work.
Reward yourself by going to your Inbox when you finish a reasonable chunk of work… or when you finish a particular piece of work
Even if email is a distraction, a lot of real work gets done using it.
I go back to my Inbox roughly around once every one or two hours. This give me my email-fix as well as giving me the opportunity to respond to anything important that may have come up while I was doing other work.
Try these 4 quick tips today. They won’t solve all your email problems but they will put you more in control. You should find you’re getting more work done, feeling less stressed and still getting your emails answered.
This 5 minute video shows you how to use Microsoft Outlook to keep your emails organized.
You will see how easy it is to do the 3 ESSENTIAL email filing tasks that all business people need to do.
In less than 5 Minutes you will learn how to:
- Find folders by typing a few characters from the folders name
- File 90% of received emails at the click of one button (no misfiled emails because of drag and drop)
- Send & File out-going emails in one step (instead of having to go back to the Sent Items folder to file your emails later)
Are people either not responding or taking too long to respond to your emails? Here’s a quick tip that could greatly reduce the response times and increase the response rate to your emails.
The secret… unless absolutely necessary, make each email about one topic/project /subject only.
I am not saying that each email should only have one question, but at least make each email about a separate topic.
This will get you faster and more complete responses… and also simplify email filing and management.
Why does this work?
Whether we admit it or not, most people use their email lists as To-Do lists…. And it feels great to be able to knock things off that list.
If you send someone an email that they are able to respond to quickly (because it deals with one thing only), they will respond to it quickly because it makes them feel good to have the email out of their Inboxes.
Many productivity techniques preach the Two Minute rule which says you should respond immediately to an email if it will take less than 2 minutes. Make it easy for them to respond immediately!
This can be even more true if you send several emails about different things (that are all quick and easy to answer). They now get the joy of crossing several things off their email to-do list.
If you put several topics in the same email, you may find that…
You receive no response!
If you put several different topics on one email, the recipient may be able to answer some quickly but others may take more time. In the time-starved world we live in today, this could mean that he will not respond at all until he has more time.
Unless your email is very important to him, it could soon get buried under newer emails that have arrived in his Inbox.
At least if you had separated emails into several topics, you would have received a response to some things that were easy or important enough to respond to quickly.
You receive incomplete response
On the other hand, if you have several questions in one email, you may get answers to a few of the easy ones but not the difficult ones. Why?
The recipient responds to your email and then moves it out of his Inbox (one more thing crossed off that email list).
An added benefit of single topic emails… email management is much easier… and safer
Most Outlook users file emails into client or project based folders. Keeping each email about a separate project means that they are easy to file into folders (because the email only deals with one projects). You don’t have to waste time figuring out where an email needs to go (or making copies to file into more than one folder).
(If you do use client or project based folders for email filing, we recommend Quick File for Outlook)
You project folders will also be safer in case you need to share project information with others. This way you know that you emails do not contain unrelated information that could be accidentally shared with the wrong person.
I hope that you found this tip useful. Let us know if you agree or disagree by leaving a comment below.
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