My MS Outlook 2003 inbox is out of control! How to best manage e-mails?
October 7, 2006 11:29 AM   Subscribe

My MS Outlook 2003 inbox is out of control! How to best manage e-mails?

I'm an excutive at a boutique marketing consultancy and I've finally hit a brick wall with managing e-mails in MS Outlook 2003. Too many e-mails in my inbox (upwards of 6,000 currently) and I haven't developed a good way to deal with sorting them. What's the best way to manage my e-mail? A couple of important notes to keep in mind:

1. I receive upwards of 150 e-mails a day (yes really). I've taught myself to mentally flag e-mails from those I deem "important" but if you're outside of that group there's a good chance I'm going to miss your e-mail.

2. Due to some legal requirements relating to projects I archive all of my e-mails spread out over mutliple PST files. I have more than 90,000 e-mails archived and find that I can pretty easily search through them using X1 Desktop Search.

3. My inbox is a mess and a big cause of it is that I don't have the time to sort e-mails into different folders (I'm on the phone or in meetings 95% of the day)

4. As much as I would love to have an assistant to deal with this for me, that's not in the cards right now.

5. I don't have a good back up method for e-mails (e.g. onto another hard drive or media). Would love suggestions on an easy way to do that too.

So, I need a simple and most importantly efficent way to sort e-mails. Thanks in advance for your advice!
posted by tundro to Technology (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Here are some good resources (tips, tricks, apps) to help manage your inbox:
posted by mattdini at 11:42 AM on October 7, 2006

I highly recommend: (especially the book)


which works with or without the book.
posted by 4ster at 11:44 AM on October 7, 2006

oops: sorry
posted by 4ster at 11:45 AM on October 7, 2006

A couple things:

1) Use folders under your inbox - You can create folders under your inbox to hold emails on various topics. Using topic folders would allow you to use Auto-Archive to archive those emails into various pst files.

2) Use filters - Outlook has filters that allow you route incoming emails into folders in your inbox. So you could set up filter rules to route emails from specific people or with words in the subject into folders. This would allow you to see folders with unread emails on various topics.

3) Use Synctoy ( a Microsoft addon) to auto-backup your pst files to another hard drive or computer.
posted by Argyle at 11:45 AM on October 7, 2006

Read GTD if you haven't already. The short version for email: do I need to act on this email? If yes, can I do it within 2 minutes? If yes, do it. If no, put in Action folder. If no action, might there be a future action? If yes, put in review (or tickler folder). If no, do I need to keep it for reference? If yes, file (you might need folders but often it's easier just to search). If no, delete.

The key element for me at least, was to separate incoming mail from mail I need to act on.
posted by crocomancer at 3:17 PM on October 7, 2006

Sort your inbox by Sender to try getting a handle on things. I find it much easier to delete/decide where and how to move messages if I look at them via Sender, not subject.
posted by lhauser at 9:07 PM on October 7, 2006

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