Achieve Outlook Nirvana: The Email Management Machine

In our last blog, we covered the six features of Outlook that make up a truly effective email management system. In this post, we’ll reveal the seven steps you need to implement this system. We highly suggest you review the last post first to fully understand what we’re talking about. Okay, ready? Let’s do this. 

Step One

Create two Folders in your Outlook account: Archive and Filtered.

Remember the four types of email I told you about? Important email mail stays in your Inbox until you dismiss it to Archive. News, Notices and Offers are sent to Filtered. 

Step Two

Create three Categories: News, Notices and Offers.

Step Three

Create some rules. These rules will look at either the email address or subject of your incoming email, because you can easily identify each non-essential email you receive by one of the two.

That never-ending stream of updates from LinkedIn got you down? Start a rule that assigns email sent from to the Category of Notices and dumps it into the Filtered folder.

At this point in the email management process, you have divided and mostly conquered your email. Important emails remain in your inbox. News, Notices, and Offers go to your Filtered folder.

Over one weekend after implementing this system, I received 43 filtered messages, none of which have made an iota of difference in my life. There was one Important email left in my Inbox. It was a response from an old friend about getting together for coffee in the coming weeks. THAT is good stuff. 

Step Four

At this point, you have a choice. You can simply let the Filtered folder exist as it is, or use Search Folders to separate News, Notices and Offers into separate Search Folders. If you don't get an insanely overwhelming amount of Filtered mail, you can leave it as is. These Search Folders can also be created at any time in the future.

Step Five

Create a Quick Step called Archive, which performs the following action: Mark as Read and move to the Archive folder.

This Quick Step can be used to move important emails into the Archive folder. So, if you receive an email from a client that you might need to access later, this Quick Step will put it in a folder that only contains mail you’ve deemed important. Nonessential emails in the Filtered folder won't interfere when you’re trying to search or browse important email from the past week, for example. 

Step Six

Create a Quick Step called Follow-up, which performs the following action: Flag message, Mark as Read and move to the Archive folder.

Step Seven

Create a Follow-up Search Folder that only contains ‘flagged’ messages. Then, drag this new Follow-up Search Folder into your Favorites. Now can make a decision about an email quickly — like an email you do need to respond to at a later time — archive it, and still have the ability to find this message very quickly in the future.

When you respond to this email, ‘un-flag’ it and it disappears from the Search Folder, but remains in the Archive folder if you need it later (still segregated from the junk in your Filtered folder).

Are you seeing what is possible here? You can harness the power of Outlook and create an email management machine.

Bonus Step (for Power Users)

I have a Logitech keyboard and mouse, the same identical model (K350) at home and at my office. It enables me to program buttons for a particular purpose. The button in the upper left activates the Archive Quick Step. The button to the right of it activates the FOLLOW-UP Quick Step. I read email and just click the left or right button, one email after another, just mowing right through them one after another.

It’s email nirvana. I’d love for you to join me there!