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Managing Outlook Email

How much time do you spend managing email?

You probably spend a large portion of your work day “doing email”. An average office worker receives about 100-120 email messages a day and sends about 30-40. If you spend just one minute reading or writing each message, that adds up to over 2 hours every day. And for some people it is much more.

SimplyFile saves an average user about 40 minutes per week and in many cases up to 3 hours per week.

How many messages are in your Inbox?

  • How many messages do you have in your Inbox right now?
  • Do you feel that it is well organized?
  • Is it easy to find things you are supposed to work on or keep track of?
  • Do you use your Inbox as a To-Do list?

Once you have more than a few dozen messages in your Inbox, it becomes very hard to scan through it. You might be missing important issues, just because a message scrolled out of sight. You might feel that email piles up faster than you are able to deal with it.

Gain control over your Inbox, feel less stress

If you already have a method to manage your Inbox and you are happy with it, feel free to skip this section.

We are not going to try to convince you to use a complicated system that would take over your workflow (and your life) but require just as much effort to maintain itself. Let’s try a very simple approach.

The most important factor that will help you gain control over your email is reducing the number of messages in your Inbox. That is it. Try using that one principle and see how much easier your email life will become.

Do not use your Inbox as storage for older messages. Do not use your email as a To-Do list. Your Inbox should only hold a handful of items you are working on at any given time.

That is a goal. We know it may take a while to get to it. Let us talk about a few strategies that will help.

Here are two simple strategies to reduce the number of messages in your Inbox:

  • If you do not need to act on a message, file it out of the Inbox to reference folders. Or delete if you do not need to keep it as a reference.
  • If you do need to act on a message in the future, use the appropriate mechanism, such as, TaskIt, ScheduleIt or SnoozeIt, to set a reminder for a future action and move the message out of the Inbox. Once the right reminder is set, you do not need to worry about missing it. Do not use the Inbox as a To-Do list.

A few more details on how to implement these two strategies:

  • Create reference folders for filing messages out of Inbox. Organize them according to what makes sense for your email: Projects, Clients, Senders, etc.

  • If you are done working with a particular message, file it into one of your reference folders.

  • If a particular message needs a very quick reply and no follow ups, just reply to it on the spot and be done with it.

  • If you know you will never need to reference message again, simply delete it.

  • If you need to follow up on a particular message at a specific time, create an Outlook Appointment for it. Set a reminder to alert you at that time. The ScheduleIt command is a great way to do it. It will attach all relevant information to the Appointment. Then you can file the original message to a reference folder out of the Inbox.

  • If you need to follow up on a particular message on a particular day or week, create an Outlook task for it. Set a reminder to alert you on the due date. The TaskIt command is a great way to do that. It will attach all relevant information to the Task. After that you can file the message to a reference folder out of the Inbox.

    Another alternative to TaskIt is to Snooze email messages.

  • If an email thread had a few back and forth messages and there is no resolution in sight, it might be a good time to pick up the phone. It might be a much easier way to drive an item to a resolution.

SimplyFile will work for you, not the other way around

SimplyFile will not try to make you use a certain methodology. It will not make you maintain a complicated time management system. SimplyFile will adapt itself to the way you work and help you feel that you are in control of your email, your work and your life.

SimplyFile will save you at least 30 minutes each week

If you are not filing messages into folders out of the Inbox, you know how much pain it is to deal with a huge mailbox. Hopefully after reading this page you will start filing.

If you are filing messages using drag and drop and have more than a handful of folders, you know that it can easily take five seconds or more to file each message. You have to navigate the folder tree to find the right folder, then drag and drop the message into that folder. And what if you miss the folder? You would have to go find the mis-filed message and re-file it.

Multiply five seconds by one hundred or more messages you receive each day. That adds up to almost ten minutes of drag and drop each day. Fifty minutes per week, easily. Over three hours a month. Almost a full work week every year. You can see how our “at least 30 minutes a week” claim is rather conservative.

SimplyFile will save you:

  • 8 minutes per day
  • 40 minutes per week
  • 32 hours (4 full work days) every year