1. Use Outlook’s Task List instead of clogging your inbox

Not all emails require an instant response, these items can be moved to your to-do folder so they’re not clogging your inbox, but you’ll need ensure that you have set up a reminder to take care of them.

Create a reminder by adding these emails to Outlook’s task list:

  • Drag the email to Outlook’s task list icon. 
  • Add a due date and set an appropriate date and time to receive a reminder and then save the task.

You can now hover your mouse over the task list icon to see a quick view of your task list, organised by due date. Click on the task list icon to open your to-do list and review the respective tasks. If you set a reminder, the task will pop up like a meeting reminder at the specified time. Once the task is complete, mark it as such to remove the task from your to-do list.

2. Clean Up Your Inbox in One Click

Taking time off is wonderful until you return from your holiday and open your email client after returning to work. If you work in an email-heavy company, you may have received hundreds of emails while you were out of the office, and now you’re faced with the long task of sorting through each one.

To clean up your inbox quickly:

  • While viewing your inbox, click the “Clean Up” button, and select “Clean Up Folder.” 
  • Click the “Clean Up Folder” button in the popup to confirm the action.

Outlook will automatically remove all duplicate emails, leaving you with significantly fewer emails to sort through.

The clean-up function can be a little disconcerting to use initially. What if it deletes something important like a reply that contained an attachment that was removed in a later thread? Rest assured: the tool is sophisticated and will not delete any emails with attachments or text that aren’t exactly duplicated in later threads.

3. Use Rules to Automatically Sort Emails and Stop Receiving Irrelevant Emails

Unfortunately, not all emails in the workplace come with an unsubscribe link.

Some of these emails keep you from focusing on more important tasks. Use Outlook’s rules function to skip the inbox and send those emails straight to the trash—or to another folder for review.

You can also use Outlook rules to automatically sort incoming emails to the appropriate folder, such as always sending emails that are from your boss with a certain subject line to the To-Do folder and emails from a newsletter you regularly read to the Someday folder.

  • Right-click the email, hover over “Rules,” and select “Create Rule.” Choose the criteria for the rule “From [Sender]” will execute the rule any time you receive an email from a specific email address or contact.
  • “Subject contains” will execute the rule any time a specified subject line is used. Select what happens when the rule runs. Click “OK” to apply the rule.

4. How to turn an email into an Outlook diary entry

Sometimes we put up with the most inconvenient of processes, never realising there is a quicker and easier way of doing things.

For example, have you ever exchanged emails with a new prospect before finally arranging a meeting, but then struggled for ages to get all of the information out of that email chain into an Outlook diary event?

You want to copy and paste all the details of your conversation – along with your prospect’s email address and the office location where the meeting will take place – but this means minimising your email message, opening up your Outlook calendar and then flicking between these two windows several times whilst copying and pasting all the relevant information.

So here is the hack.

  1. Click on the email message you wish to associate with an appointment/event.
  2. Then hold down the left mouse button and drag that message to the Calendar icon in the lower left-hand corner of the email client.
  3. Once you have the mouse hovered over Calendar, release the left mouse button and configure the appointment window with date, time, and location etc.

The following screen shots show visual instructions on how to complete this three-step process.

NB. Any attachments from the original email message will not transfer across to the diary event but they can always be reattached. We’re sure you will agree this tip is still a great time saver.

Further articles from our Soundbytes Autumn Newsletter include:

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