Anyone with an email account seems to struggle with the barrage of emails coming throughout the day. According to a recent study by The Radicati Group, the average professional receives about 125 emails per day. With so many distractions and to-do’s coming in throughout the day, an out-of-control inbox can quickly reduce productivity. Below are three easy ways to clean up your Outlook inbox and reclaim your productivity.
1. Conversation Mode
Conversation Mode allows you to group email conversations by the subject and the parties involved in the email. For example, if you have an email string with the subject line of “Future Business Plans” all responses and emails that you send will show up as a conversation within your Outlook mailbox. This will allow you to pull the email up quickly and will also help you keep your mailbox clean.
To enable conversations, Navigate to the View tab, in the Conversations group, select or clear the Show as Conversations check box.
You can also further clean up the conversation if you would like once in Conversation mode. By choosing the option for Clean Up under the Home tab, you will be able to click on something called Clean Up Conversation. This will clean out any redundant messages within the conversation, itself. Messages that are not unread, flagged, categorized, or the newest message in the conversation will not be moved into the Delete Items folder.
Outlook allows you to create and assign color categories for any of your Outlook items that may be related in any shape or form. This helps you identify items that you want to bring up within Outlook. Color adds visibility to your Outlook items so you can reference them quicker. As you can see in the example below, it will color in your calendar event to the color you choose for that category.
For Outlook emails, you will have a column header that says Categories within your mailbox. In that column, you will see what color categories are set for each of the emails towards the right hand side.
To create categories, select the Home Tab and click on the button that says Categorize. The button will have 4 colors in a square. Select All Categories. From there you will be able to create a new category or edit the existing ones. You will be able to apply these categories when you have any Outlook item (email, notes, calendar entry, etc.) up.
To apply a category, open up any Outlook item and select the Home Tab. Once in the Home tab, click on the button that says Categorize and you will be able to select the category that you want to set for that item.
When searching for particular email messages, you may remember that it had an attachment, it had a specific category, or it was flagged as an important message. Luckily, Outlook allows you to search for specific criteria that may be linked to the emails that you are looking for. The Filter E-mail button allows you to quickly search for emails based on these criteria. Under the Home Tab you will see a button that says Filter E-mail on the far right hand side. Once you click on this button, you will see the search box is now activated and contains the filter that you chose. You can build on this search with additional criteria and that will help narrow down the results of the search.