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Save time through more productive e-mail management

E-mail has become a communication form we can't live without. But e-mail is a killer for productivity - few can argue against that. Here are a few tips that will save you valuable time when dealing with your e-mails.

Don't check your e-mail first in the morning

Whatever you do, don't let your e-mail inbox decide what you should do first in the morning. When you arrive at the office, do your more important tasks first, then check your e-mail.

This will help you to focus on what is really important at the start of the day.

Turn off e-mail notifications

Outlook desktop alertTurn off e-mail notifications if you're serious about productivity. Those notifications will steal the focus from whatever you're doing - and most of the time you don't want that.

This way, you decide when it's time to check your e-mail, and new e-mails wont disturb you while you work on important stuff.

How to turn off e-mail notifications in Outlook 2007

  1. Go to Tools -> Options.
  2. Click E-mail Options, choose Advanced E-mail Options.
  3. Below When new items arrive in my Inbox, untick Display a New Mail Desktop Alert.
    I've unticked all boxes here for maximum control:
    Outlook settings for new Inbox items
  4. Choose Ok for all opened Outlook windows and you'll be fine.

Use e-mail rules

In Outlook, there's a neat function that lets you create e-mail rules, helping you to organize your inbox. You can configure e-mails from a specific person to arrive directly in a folder of your choice, you can directly filter e-mails with attachments, and much more.

I've found e-mail rules particularly good when used to file e-mails. You setup a set of rules and then e-mails are filed under any given folder, so you don't have to do the archiving yourself. Definitely a time saver.

In Outlook 2007, you can configure your e-mail rules under Tools -> Rules and Alerts.

How to setup a simple e-mail filing rule in Outlook 2007

This is how you configure a rule to automatically file e-mails from a specific person, under a specific folder (Outlook 2007).

  1. Go to Tools -> Rules and Alerts.
  2. Choose New Rule. Below Stay Organized, choose Move message from someone to a folder. Click Next.
  3. In the second box, click people or distribution list and choose a contact of your choice. Also, click specified to specify a folder where an e-mail from this contact should be archived. Click next.
    Outlook, setup an e-mail rule
  4. In this step, you'll have a chance to review the rule and change it if you like. Just click Finish when your done!

You'll see all your e-mail rules under Rules and alerts, where you also can manage all rules.

Shut down your e-mail client for a while

In order to be able to focus on any important task, the best way to do this is to shut down your e-mail client. Period.

You'll get more done, I promise you. If you want to send an e-mail, just write this e-mail in Notepad and save it until later. Just keep your e-mail client shut down for a while.

You might also want to consider scheduling your e-mail time, maybe check the e-mail in the morning and in the afternoon. Then you can focus on work in between. And remember - don't check your e-mail the first thing you do in the morning!

Keep it simple

Remember, keep your e-mails simple and to the point. This will not only help you, but your contacts too.

Good e-mail management will help you save time. In the end, you'll get to focus on more important things than e-mail at work and in life.

Comments

Refraining from checking your e-mail the first thing you do in the morning is a simple - yet extremely important - tip! Most personal efficiency experts will agree! :)

Good tips. One thing that I do is that I only keep mails in my inbox that I need to follow up. When I have finished a task I delete the mail or move it to a project folder if i need to save it for later reference. My inbox usually contains 2-3 mails which let's me focus on work.

Great stuff, Andreas, thanks for sharing! An empty or almost empty inbox makes you feel good and less stressed.

Setting up rules for emails sent to a specific group is a very neat feature that helps you achieve structure in your inbox too.

There is surely more to write on this particular topic.. :)

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