Conquering Your Inbox

Jason C. McDonald on March 31, 2018

The Email Inbox. A place of nightmares and wasted productivity. A black hole where messages come to die. But it doesn't have to be this way! Any o... [Read Full]
markdown guide

I use Outlook at work and I do the following:

  • switch off notifications
  • switch off auto-mark-as-read
  • I use a lot of rules to filter out stuff that doesn’t need immediate attention
  • everything that remains in my inbox stays there. No archive.
  • everything that’s unread, I need to do something.
  • everything that’s read is done.
  • then I switch to unread messages only to go through open work

This is me, too, though I wonder if I need to default to archiving instead of leaving as read in my inbox now that I have 3.5 years of stuff in there.


From using GMail, I’ve got so used to not thinking about the mailbox size that I just refuse doing that at work. I can just search through all mails, no matter which year. Why archiving, why another thing to worry or at least think about?


I find filtering messages directly to the bin or setting up rules like "if it has more than one exclamation in the title, never mark as important" help a lot.


Sharing my tip on managing your Outlook Email. And it takes only 2 minutes!

Start your clock. Ready. Set.

Go to "View" on Outlook Menu, click "To do Bar" and select "Tasks". Arrange the To Do Bar by Importance.
Then right mouse click on To Do Bar, and go to "View Settings" and do the following in screenshot to display only items flagged by you. From now on, flagged emails that require any follow action by you, once you have done the action, clear flag or mark complete on the email to disappear from To Do List.
Also, change importance of the emails in the To Bar just be dragging them in the To Do Bar between Importance sections. Done. Stop the clock!
Got a task but no email exists yet to flag, send yourself an email so the FROM and TO email address are the same. When it appears in inbox, flag it and set its importance. Now your To Do list is complete. Can even be printed out

Bonus Tip: Outlook Search Folders are you organizing genie. Use them instead of real folders in Outlook Navigator. Right mouse click on Search Folders in the Outlook Navigator and create search folders. If you are project driven, which most of us are when working. Create a search folder for each project and in the "FROM" criteria put the email address of all potential people may send email for that project. I like to make a second identical search folder for same project but add an additional criteria under advanced criteria to include only emails flagged by me. This second search folder I name "Flagged Project X emails". Make some search folders to appear in Favorite list as needed. Delete Search Folders when the have full-filled their use, they are only indexes.

Once you are trusting emails are automatically showing in their search folders, then daily clearing out back to a zero number of emails in inbox by marking emails as Archive will not cause anxiety. "Do you leave mail in your postal mail "inbox" at the curb at home? Why do it in Outlook?".

Create as many search folders for topics that you need. For example, "Company News", "Department News", etc. They are just indexes for emails in the Archive box. This also means the same email can exists in multiple search folders which is a Bonus that you don't have with real Outlook folders.

code of conduct - report abuse