10 Tips to Manage Outlook Inbox to Maximize Productivity

Many workers struggle to make their days as productive as possible. You want to make sure you’re maximizing your time behind your computer screen–especially when it comes to managing your email inbox.

Do you want to be more productive as you deal with your email and the challenges it can present? Try some of these strategies to streamline your inbox, sort things out, and make it easier to manage your time.

1. Only “touch” emails once. 

There’s a paper mail sorting strategy that says you only touch them once: as soon as a letter comes into your home, you immediately deal with it, whether that means throwing it away or issuing some type of response. Adopt the same approach with your email inbox. As soon as an email comes in, address it. Move it to the right folder so that you can access it later, respond to it, or take whatever action you need to take so that it isn’t cluttering up your inbox and interfering with later productivity.

2. Quickly delete messages that you do not need or do not have to deal with.

There are a lot of messages that make their way into your inbox every day that you don’t need or want: sales emails for companies that you don’t remember giving your email address to, general spam, and a host of others. Don’t let those emails languish in your mailbox! Instead, delete them quickly. Speaking of which…

3. Unsubscribe to any mailing lists you no longer want to be part of.

Make a regular habit of unsubscribing to email lists that are no longer of interest or of use to you. Did you have to provide your email address to access specific gated content, but have no further interest in information from the platform? Unsubscribe. Did you use or purchase a product once, but have no further interest in the company? Unsubscribe. You’ll find that when you clean out those spam emails, your inbox is generally much cleaner and easier to deal with.

4. Create subfolders for content that you might need to refer back to later.

While using a single-touch method for your email inbox is highly effective, it’s not always practical. Some tasks, you simply have to get back to later. Other times, you may need the information contained in those emails for something in the future: tickets to an event, confirmation of a work-sponsored flight, or simply information from a coworker or client that you know you will need to access later.

Take the time to set up an organization system that works for you. Store information in clearly-labeled files that you can decipher at a glance. Use subfolders as needed to help separate out information.

5. Include folders for email that needs to be deferred for later.

There are some tasks that you cannot handle as soon as they touch your inbox. For example, you may need to finish a report before you can answer a client, or you might need more information from your boss or a coworker before you can send off an email. Create a “deferred” folder that you refer back to regularly. Add any emails that you can’t get to immediately, but that you need to handle promptly.

6. Create rules to help manage incoming messages.

Those folders that organize your email aren’t just for emails you’ve already sorted. You can also set rules for your messages that will send content from specific senders–from a particular client whose information you want to keep all together to a mailing list whose content you don’t need to access particularly regularly–to a specific folder as they come in, which can make it easier to deal with your inbox later.

7. Block spam.

Spam is inevitable. Outlook, however, makes blocking much of that spam easier than you think. As it comes in, simply choose “junk” and “block sender.” Then, that email address can no longer send you spam–and you won’t have to do anything about it!

8. Schedule events for the future. 

You can set specific events as calendar tasks, from creating calendar entries to setting up reminders for those events. A calendar entry will remind you that you need to take care of a specific task at a specific time, whether it’s sending out an email or getting together with a coworker to manage a specific task or to get more information about your latest project.

9. Use your To Do list.

Outlook provides a To Do list option that can make it much easier to manage and sort many of your daily tasks–especially the ones that you may not be able to handle as soon as you open an email. Just drag and drop the item onto your To Do list. It will remind you that you need to take care of that task, which means you don’t have to use valuable memory space keeping it in mind until it’s time to deal with it, but it will also allow you to remove that email from your inbox and more forward with the other tasks you need to take care of.

10. Set aside specific times for emails.

Here’s the biggest step you can take to maximize your productivity in Outlook: turn off notifications. That’s it: just one simple step. Then, set aside specific time each day to deal with your inbox. You don’t want to find yourself jumping and checking your email every time a notification dings. Even when you’re waiting on an important email to come in, you may find that it’s more practical to turn off the notifications and focus on whatever task you’re currently managing. Then, at the preset time when you’re supposed to be checking your email, take the time to deal with everything in your inbox, whether that means sending out answers or assigning specific tasks for later. You’ll find that by including it as part of your schedule, you’re much more likely to be productive during those times.

Are you looking for more ways to make the most of all your Microsoft solutions, including Outlook? Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.

Written by Chris Michalec posted on July 14, 2021

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