Best Practices for Using Microsoft Outlook from a Sales Perspective

Arrow-Tip #33 Managing Inbox Overload Part I

Inbox overload – we’ve all experienced it and once you get there, its easy to get trapped in a downward spiral where before you know it your email count goes from 100 to 1000. Never fear, this arrow-tip will be the first in a five part series this week on how to regain control of your Inbox and make sure your most important messages don’t get lost in a sea of email noise.

One of my favorite tricks for quickly dealing with a massive number of emails is sorting on the From field or column. Inevitably this technique will allow you to get rid of large quantities of unimportant emails quickly so that you can then focus on the more important ones. Simply scroll through your emails and look for large groupings such as:

  • newsletters – if you’ve collected several newsletter emails, chances are that you are not going to read all of them. Scan quickly for headlines you want to save for later and move those to a “Newsletter” or “Reading List” folder, but mass delete the rest. This is also an excellent time to re-examine whether or not you should unsubscribe to a newsletter that you never read.
  • spam filter reports – you can easily delete all but the most recent one and then either quickly review email collected in the spam filter or task yourself to do so later.
  • market or status updates – emails that provide updated schedules, news, or conditions that change regularly become obsolete when the latest one hits your Inbox, so mass delete all but the most recent one.
  • social network notifications – a notification that somone has accepted your invitation to connect on LinkedIn is nice, but it doesn’t necessarily require any follow up action. These emails can either be mass deleted or marked as read and moved to another folder in mass.
  • event invitations – 5 reminders or invitations for the same event or for an event that has already passed are just clogging up your Inbox. Delete all, but the newest (unless it has already passed or you do not intend to attend) and then drag the newest to your calendar and delete it after your have saved the appointment.

You will most likely find that this simple exercise will get rid of 20% to 50% or more of your email volume. Be sure to check back to morrow for Part II of Managing Inbox Overload.

This post was written by MistyKhan and published on November 24, 2008 in the following categories: Arrow Tips, Front Page, Inbox, Inbox Zero. You can leave trackbacks on this post at this address. To follow the comments on this post subscribe to the RSS feed.


What is your experience with tools like Digsby or Friendfeed, etc. Do they make managing multiple accounts and sources more manageable?lacket

Actually I haven’t used Digsby or Friendfeed – would love to hear your thoughts on them though!

1/5/10 As a follow up, I’ve been subscribed to FriendFeed for about a year now and I really haven’t found that it changes how I use Outlook or even social media much. Would still love to hear your feedback, Flip, on how you use FriendFeed in conjunction with your InBox. Misty

  • flipgonzo
  • 12:36
  • November 24, 2008
  • 1.

My problem (although I have yet to consider it a big problem) is that I peruse e-mails in my BB, as it has freed me from hours at my desktop. However, I’m left (in my Oulook desktop inbox) with a lot of half-read e-mails that merit further reading or action. If action is required at a later date, then I flag it with a future reminder. E-mails that I need to get to within a day or so sit there until I get to them (I already have too many of those pesky reminders popping up), while the ones I w a n t to get to accumulate.

The best feature I have discoverred to solve all of this is the “forward” button, as it allows me to delegate and send the mail to someone else’s inbox.

Joseph, thank you so much for your comment. I certanily applaud your use of the “forward” button (one of the simplest solutions for addressing emails that often gets forgotten) and your caution with regard to alarms which become meaningless when over used.

Regarding managing email via your Blackberry – I’m trying to remember whether or not you are on pop email or an actual Exchange server? If the former, synchronizing emails from your Blackberry to your Outlook Inbox can be especially challenging and you might want to consider a service like MailStreet to host Exchange and Blackberrry Server for you – in your line of business I find the benefits of Exchange Server are especially compelling – check out Arrow-Tip #25 .

One thing to keep in mind whether you are on a server or not is that while very emancipating, your Blackberry is no substitute for your Outlook Inbox. Your Blackberry Inbox should be used to help you respond to urgent or time sensiteve emails only while everything else should be managed through your laptop or desktop Outlook interface which is much more robust and efficient. Another advantage to a mail server is that you can have the same Outlook profile synchronized to multiple computers including your laptop and desktop.

Also, it definitely sounds like you are using your Inbox to manage your tasks – consider using your Outlook Tasks folder for that purpose instead since it is much better configured for task prioritization and management and emails are easily converted to tasks – see Arrow-Tip #3 Limit Your Inbox to 15 Items or Less .

Hope this information is helpful and keep up the good advocacy work!

  • JosephTX
  • 05:56
  • January 5, 2010
  • 2.

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