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Outlook Folders, time to simplify and be more productive...

Now you know the basic dos and don’ts your email life will already be improved, right?

Wrong! The problem with emails aren’t the one’s you send, it’s everybody else!

Microsoft Outlook is one of those tools that a huge majority of us use, not because we want to, but because that’s what our company uses.  Most people don’t love or loath the tool it’s just kinda there.

For me, Outlook manages just about my entire productivity including Email, Tasks, Notes, Contacts and Calendar.  I know it does something called Journals but I’ve no idea what that is and I’m sure I’m not missing out (feel free to comment and tell me I’m wrong).

The problem with Outlook is that when you take it out of the box it’s poorly set-up and that’s how most people use it.  With a little bit of knowledge and some really basic set-up you can really make Outlook your friend and aid to productivity.

In this post, I'm going to talk about folders.  I’ve tried many ways of managing email folders.  I’ve had folders for different projects, for different senders, for months of the year, for action items and everything in between, but I always find myself having to search through multiple folders looking for an email well.

‘Well I know it’s was for project X but it was sent from Jim but it may have been before my auto-archive is set-up for so could be in the archive or the project folder or Jim’s folder…‘ Jeez, I used to drive myself mad with this type of set-up.

Now it’s simple.  I have 4 folders.  That’s it. 4.

  1. Inbox.  Everyone’s got one of these and it’s where every email goes as default.
  2. Copied.  I have a Rule to send all emails where I’m CCd on (remember, CCd means information only, no action required by me, see Dos and Don’ts for a reminder.
  3. Received.  This is where I store all my email that don't require any further action (replies, action etc.).
  4. Sent Items.  For all the email I send.  Again, everyone has one of these so no assembly required.

A quick note about the Received Items folder.  Having one folder for all your received items is a pretty big step if you've previously used lots of folders for different subjects etc.  The reason you can do this is because of the much improved Search options in Outlook.  Search is a very underutilized feature of Outlook and saves much angst searching around in folders.

So that's it, 4 folders.  Time to simplify and become more productive, give it a try and let me know how you get on!