It is funny that an almost 50-years-old technology is still the most common way to do business.
That makes an eMail Client the most important tool for daily work. There is a list of popular mail clients. I have been using Outlook for 15 years. It is a pretty standard piece of software to manage email messages.
I have created tons of subfolders to sort messages into suitable categories. I thought that it worked well, so I have also implemented automated rules to move my messages from the inbox to proper subfolders.
This approach worked partially. It was cool to have messages in the right folders right away, but at the same time, Outlook did not show any alerts about new emails. This problem could be fixed when I was using a desktop Outlook application, with a specific local rule. Unfortunately, I was out of alerts on my mobile devices - cell phone and smartwatch, and I could not do anything about it.
People have been begging for subfolder alerts for iOS Outlook for years. Sadly, Microsoft is not going to implement this feature. Maybe there is a good reason?
For years I had to open Outlook on my iPhone to check if a new message arrived in a subfolder.
It was super-frustrating when I still receive alerts from my inbox where I had mostly SPAM messages.
So, my automated rules ended with serving me SPAM instead of important conversations. Well done Jack!
One day, I said to myself you have to turn it around. So, my main goal was to keep only important messages in the Inbox. That is easier said than done! If I would change all my rules to keep messages in the Inbox instead of moving to subfolders, and all other emails put in a separate subfolder, I would end up with an Inbox with a mix of different clients in one place. I would not be worse off since all of these messages are important, but as an archive, it will be a mess.
I had to develop a better approach to the automated sorting emails. So, I defined a process that at first sights is a bit complicated:
- All my rules for an important email COPY an email to the suitable subfolder and keep the email in the Inbox at the same time.
- All messages that do not fit any rule above are MOVED to a subfolder "other"
I also manually moved all emails from the Inbox to "other" subfolder to have a clean start with my Inbox.
Now, when I receive an important message it stays in the Inbox and a copy goes to the correct subfolder.
The magic happens in the Inbox. I keep emails there as they require action. So, it looks like this:
- I have an important email with information, so I do not have to react. I delete the message after reading, but a copy stays in a subfolder.
- I receive an important email that needs a reply I reply to the email and delete it. A copy is in a subfolder.
- I receive an important email I have to reply, but I do not have the answer at the moment. I leave the email in the Inbox. I will see the email whenever I take a look at my email client. Thanks to that, I will not forget to take action and reply to the email as soon I have the answer to send.
It sounds simple, but it is very powerful. I am not distracted by SPAM and I am alerted only by important messages on my desktop Outlook, cell phone, and smartwatch.
But, what about non-spam emails that do not apply to any rule?
They go to the "other" folder. I check this subfolder once a day and any messages that matter will not be missed by me.
I hope that my story of 15 years using Outlook wrong will cause you to wonder if you can set up your email clients to be more productive.
And finally, after replaying and deleting all messages from the Inbox I see this note:
How cool is that?