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Gain a better Outlook: 3 moves toward an empty inbox

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in Leaders & Managers,Management Training,Microsoft Email Outlook,Office Technology

Managing the stream of email that gathers in your inbox every day can feel like an impossible task. Slim down your filing system into this “trusted trio” of action-based folders:

1. Action. Store tasks you must complete in this folder, whether it’s a message that needs a thoughtful response sometime this week or something your manager needs you to tackle today.

Review this folder several times a day, and clear it out as tasks are done.

2. Hold. Tuck messages here temporarily, if you’ll need to access them within the next few days.

Examples: a FedEx confirmation number for an important delivery, or a co-worker’s message saying “I’ll get back to you Tuesday re: The Project.”

Review regularly to delete messages no longer needed.

Tip: Remember where the “open loops” are by marking messages in the “Hold” and “Action” folders as “unread.” That way, you can keep an eye on the number of outstanding items.

3. Archive. File messages here for referencing later. Examples: completed requests or tasks, important threads, memos and questions you’ve answered.

Remember: It’s completely searchable, so you can always retrieve a message simply by using a well-crafted query.

Now that you’ve set up your trusted trio, move all your messages into one of the three folders ... and savor the feeling of an empty inbox.

Bonus Outlook Tip: How to Retrieve Deleted Email

Accidentally hit the delete button on an email? It’s easy enough to retrieve. If it’s recent, you can find it at the top of your “Recycle Bin.”

But what if the message was two weeks or two months old? You’ll have to wade through hundreds of deleted messages and junk email to find it.

Here’s a simple way to make the most recently deleted email messages appear at the top of the “Recycle Bin”:

  1. Navigate to your deleted email items folder.
  2. Right click on one of the column headers (i.e., Received Date).
  3. Click “Field Chooser” on the context pop-up menu.
  4. In the drop-down box at the top of the “Field Chooser” window select “Date/Time Fields.”
  5. Drag “Modified” to the column position where you want it to appear.

Now click on the Modified column header, and email messages will sort by that column. Whatever was most recently deleted will appear at the top.

It’s a simple adjustment, but the time savings add up.

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