Outlook Tips: 5 Tools for Organizing Your Email

By Robert Half on May 28, 2014 at 7:00am

Few functions are as important to a company as its communication with clients and internal audiences. As the company's administrative professional, and key communication point person, you'll want to have all the tools necessary to make the business run smoothly. In this article, we tackle the email inbox. Use the following Outlook tips to help organize your inbox and get a better grip on this office essential.

Like all of us, you’ve probably come to rely on email – a lot – in your day-to-day routine. Those messages provide a trove of detail about the projects you’re working on. If they’re organized haphazardly, you’re not working as productively as you could. Fortunately, Outlook 2013 makes it easy for you to better organize your email.

Here are five Microsoft Outlook tips to help you do that:

1. Apply your organizational skills

The rules feature in Outlook lets you set a variety of organizational preferences. For instance, you can sort messages into specific folders based on the sender or specific words in the subject line. It also lets you set special alerts for these messages to make sure they get priority attention.

2. Rise to the top

With Outlook, your email folders no longer have to stay in alphabetical order. You can drag and drop folders to arrange them in any order you want them to appear. Your highest priority folders can go on top or your non-urgent ones can fall to the bottom. This can be a real time-saver. There’s no need to scroll down every time you need the Sales folder. Just drag it to the top of the list. You can easily reorganize your folders back into A-Z order, too, whenever you want.

3. Search string success

It happens to all of us. Someone is expecting you to forward an important message and you've assured them it’s no problem. Now, the clock is ticking and you just can’t find that six-month-old email. By creating search folders, you avoid all that angst. A search folder displays messages based on specific criteria – for example, all messages requiring follow-up. You can also create folders for specific documents, say, “weekly status report,” by specifying those words in the search criteria.

4. Chop, mix, repeat

Outlook 2013 contains a variety of organizational tools designed to help you get better organized. The blue bar at left lets you mark messages as unread while you are in them. Even better, you can do this for multiple messages. A floating cross icon makes it a snap to delete emails, while Outlook’s enhanced flag icon lets you more easily mark items as important. The Outlook reading pane now displays replies along with your messages. Don’t like this? A handy “pop out” button lets you revert to a classic view.

5. Clean up your inbox with this Outlook tip: Archive it

One of the easiest Outlook tips to clear out your inbox is to archive all those older email messages. Simply create a folder called “archive” and drag and drop older messages into the archive. Newer versions of Outlook have an Archive button that helps you to accomplish this a bit more quickly and lets you archive multiple messages. You can also do this automatically by specific time intervals via Outlook’s auto-archive feature. You can even archive by folders or put your entire email on auto-archive.

Try these tips and your Outlook inbox will be leaner, meaner, cleaner — and the envy of the office. Check back on the blog soon for additional tips for Microsoft Outlook.

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