Whether your e-mail inbox is cluttered with spam or work-related e-mail, take note: The following techniques can help you gain control of your wild inbox.
Annette Marquis and Gini Courter of Triad Consulting offer this advice to users of Outlook (2003):
Move task-oriented e-mail messages out of your inbox if they will take longer than five minutes to handle. Drag each message to your Task folder and change the subject name, so you’ll know its topic at a glance. Then, delete it from your inbox, so that all your to-do’s are grouped in one place.
If you need to reply to the message later, click on it, go to “Action” and choose “Forward.”
Drag e-mail to your Calendar to schedule time for yourself to work on it. Estimate how much time the task will take, then drop it into your schedule.
You also can drag it from your inbox to your boss’s calendar, if you have permission.
“Add a reminder” when you use a follow-up flag, and the message text will turn red when it’s overdue. That makes it easy to see pressing tasks at a glance. Once you’ve completed the task, manually mark it “complete.”
Develop a color scheme for flags, using two or three different colors. You might designate blue for anything to do with your boss and red for a high-priority project. Even if your inbox is full, you’ll be able to spot the hottest items.