7 Ways to Tame your Email Pile

An empty inbox is always a rare moment and accomplishment in life.

I mean, honestly, how many of you always make it a point to open all your emails such that you have ZERO unread messages in your inbox?!

It’s a rare occurrence, indeed. But guess what, it doesn’t have to be! Because Outlook 365 has some overlooked features that can help you organize your emails and help you start focusing on the important tasks.

1. Move Complex and Non-Critical Emails to a To-Do Folder

The first thing you would want to do is to organize your email, and get it out of your inbox view. I mean, out of sight, out of mind right?

Well, Office 365 allows you to do just that!

By creating a folder, you are already embarking on your first step in organizing your inbox. What you name your folders and how you sort your emails all depends on each individual – after all, it is what works best for YOU!

However, if you are clueless and need a certain direction or guideline to head towards, then I would recommend creating 3 new folders – a main “To Do” folder, and a “Follow Up” and “Someday” subfolder.

To create these folders, simply:

  1. Right-click your “Inbox” folder, and select “New Folder”

  2. Title the first folder “To Do”

  3. Click the arrow next to the Inbox folder to view your new To-Do folder

  4. Right-click the To-Do folder, select new folder, and name this folder “Someday”

  5. Repeat to create a “Follow Up” subfolder under the To-Do folder

Now if you did that correctly, you would be staring face-to-face with 3 new folders for your incoming emails. So now, when your emails arrive, you can diligently move them to the appropriate folder:

  1. Inbox – the “I can handle this in less than 3 minutes” or “It’s urgent!” folder

  2. To Do – the “It will take me more than 3 minutes to reply” folder

  3. Follow Up – the “I am waiting for Jack and Jill to reply me on this” folder

  4. Someday – the “Ehh… I don’t need to reply to this, so I’ll read it someday if I’m free” folder

So I may have lied, out of sight does not mean out of mind! Simply moving them to different folders is not enough! Instead, after sorting through your email, remember to schedule time on your calendar every day to review and handle the items in your to-do folder!

2. Use Outlook’s Task List Instead of Clogging your Inbox

I get it, some emails do not require an immediate response.

However, what if they need to be handled before the time you have scheduled to review those items in your to-do folder?

Well then, these items can still be moved to your to-do folder so that they are not clogging up your inbox. But you’ll want to make sure that you have a reminder to take care of them before their stipulated deadline!

Create a reminder by adding these emails to Outlook’s task list:

  1. Drag the email and drop it on Outlook’s task list icon

  2. Add a due date and set a date and time to receive a reminder

  3. Save the task

Moreover, to see a quick view of your task list organized by due date, you can now hover your cursor over the task list icon. In addition, clicking on the task list icon will open up your to-do list to allow you to review the respective tasks.

And once the task is complete, mark it as such to remove the task from your to-do list.

Outlook’s task list is also useful if you’re in the habit of copying yourself on emails as a reminder to follow up, or if you’re emailing someone who is prone to ignoring your requests. Instead of keeping reminders as emails in your inbox, just move them to your to-do folder and add them to your task list.

3. Clean your Inbox in One Click

So you took time off work last week to visit the Bahamas. That’s great! Or rather, that’s great until you open your email again after returning to work, and a hurricane of emails bombard your inbox.

Let’s face it, if you work in an email-heavy company, you may have received hundreds of emails while you were out of the office for just a few days! And now, you’re faced with the difficult task of sorting through each one of them, one by one.

But have no fear, for Outlook Clean-Up is here!

With Outlook’s clean-up function, you can now drastically reduce the number of emails you have to deal with in just a few clicks. It basically removes all email replies that are duplicated in a later thread, allowing you to read a single thread instead of dozens of individual emails. Smart right?

To clean up your inbox quickly:

  1. While viewing your inbox, click the “Clean Up” button, and select “Clean Up Folder.”

  2. Click the “Clean Up Folder” button in the popup to confirm the action.

  3. Outlook will automatically remove all duplicate emails, leaving you with significantly fewer emails to sort through.

However, the burning question is: What if it deletes something important like a reply that contained an attachment that was removed in a later thread?

Well, let me just put it out there and say that this tool is more sophisticated than you think it is! So don’t worry! It will not delete any emails with attachments or text that aren’t exactly duplicated in later threads. Besides, you can always review the deleted items in the trash folder if you need it that badly anyway.

4. Use Rules to Automatically Sort Emails and Stop Receiving Irrelevant Emails

Day after day, emails arrive in your inbox that are just a distraction. And unfortunately, not all emails in the workplace come with an unsubscribe link. These emails keep you from focusing on your important work. So what do you do? Have Outlook automatically file an email!

Outlook’s rules function allows you to command certain emails to skip the inbox altogether and go straight to the trash—or to another folder for review.

Furthermore, it can also be used to automatically sort incoming emails to the appropriate folder. For example, you can always send emails from your boss with a certain subject line to the “To-Do” folder, and emails from a newsletter you regularly read to the “Someday” folder.

  1. Right-click the email, hover over “Rules,” and select “Create Rule.”

  2. Choose the criteria for th