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We’re an IT company – so you can imagine how many emails we get per day; Support emails, sales emails, inquiries, emails just to say hi.  Anyway, we get a lot of emails. Keeping track of all these emails is a challenge. Organizing them so that they can be accessed at a later date is even tougher. There are 5 indispensable tools I use to help me manage my mailbox (and retain my sanity). Even if you don’t receive as many emails as I do, using these tools will allow you to better manage your mailbox, too. But before we jump into the tools, here are a few simple guidelines I follow religiously to manage my mailbox:

1. I never, EVER delete an email. With the amount of storage we have on our Partek Hosted Exhchange, cleaning-up old emails is no longer necessary. Besides, you never know when you’re going to need them. I suggest you check to see if you have a mailbox storage limit and what can be done about it.
2. I always keep fewer than 25 emails in my main inbox. My other emails are stored in folders, either automatically using Outlook Rules or through the Quick Steps process (explained below).
3. If an email is marked as unread, it truly is unread. I do not use the Unread attribute other than for its intended use.

With that in mind, here are my 5 tried and true weapons for managing my inbox:

1. Use Outlook Rules to Automatically Sort Emails: Rules are incredibly useful as they allow you to do 2 things; Automatically categorize emails, and move automated notifications to sub-folders. Play with the rule options to see what ones work for you.

2. Sort Emails by Category: Instead of using only folders to organize my emails, I also create categories for various “topics”, and apply them to any emails that do not apply to any of my rules. You can apply more than one category to an email; categories can even be applied to tasks and calendar items. Categories are a quick way of doing an initial triage of your inbox.

3. Use Quick Steps: By using Quick Steps, you can quickly perform actions such as marking an email as read and move it to an Archive folder in one click. This helps create workflows that simplify email management.

4. Flag Emails: By flagging emails you can keep track of important actions that need to be taken. I flag my emails to remind myself to check if an action item has been done by the required date. I apply flags to both sent and received emails. Then, each day, I skim through these items in the Tasks section of Outlook. This gives me a quick overview of the follow-ups I have to do.

5. Use the Search Feature: Yes, this is basic, but it’s a powerful tool. Keeping your mailbox clean also implies not overusing subfolders to organize emails. Instead, I rely on the Outlook Search feature to find emails quickly and efficiently.

If you have any questions about our email solutions or the tools I use, don’t hesitate to drop me a line.