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In Outlook 2010: Effective Email Management, author Gini Courter demonstrates techniques to streamline the Outlook mailbox workflow. The course covers strategies for customizing views, adding filters, utilizing flags, and creating and organizing folders. The course also shows how to automate tasks as well as make effective use of QuickSteps to process email, and more.
At any point in time, your Outlook Inbox is probably a snapshot of two different types of messages: messages that you've already read and have dealt with, and messages that are unread, or have been reviewed and need more time for you to take action on them. One strategy for handling messages in your Inbox is simply to keep everything there and use the unread status of a message to make sure that you can focus easily on the messages that you have not yet dealt with, but most users will create some folders in their Inbox, so that they can remove messages from the current list of incoming mail, your Inbox, into a specific folder that's based on a project or on a particular team you are working with, perhaps a folder that's a response to something specific that you sent out that you need replies all in one place.
I think the simplest system I have seen of Inbox folders is a friend of mine who has two folders in his Inbox: one is called To Do, and the other is called To Da. He puts all the items that he needs to work on in the To Do folder. As he finishes an assignment, he moves the corresponding message to the To Da folder; simple, and it works for my friend Mike. I like to have a few more folders than that in my Inbox, however. I like to have folders that relate to particular projects, and I have actually created a hierarchy of folders in my personal Inbox. To create a folder, it's really easy.
You can click on the Inbox and either click the Folder tab and choose New Folder to open the Create New Folder dialog, or you can right-click and choose New Folder to open that same dialog box. It doesn't matter how you get there. There are two things that you need to make sure you do, after you enter a name for the folder. So I am actually going to enter OilFest2010, because I want to create a folder simply to track items that are coming in for OilFest. It's a Mail and Post Item. Now, if you are already in the Inbox, it's going to choose Mail and Post Item because that's the type of item that is stored in the Inbox.
But if you decided to set up this folder, and you were in the Calendar, it would be choosing calendar items for you. So make sure it says Mail and Post, and then tell it where you would like it to be, and I would like this folder to be inside my Inbox. So I am simply going to choose my Inbox and click OK. And here is my new Inbox folder, waiting for me to add information to it. Now, I'd like to create a couple of other Inbox folders to help me remove items from my Inbox and sort them to the folders. So I am going to create another folder, actually, as part of OilFest2010, I actually have some messages that are related specifically to administration and accounting.
So I am going to right-click and choose New Folder, and I am going to create an OilFest Admin folder that will hold all of the administrative items that I have to handle. I want it to go into the OilFest2010 folder, a subfolder of this subfolder of my Inbox. So I say OK, and you will notice that I have this folder that is part of OilFest2010. Now, I am going to go back to my Inbox, and I am going to create another folder. I get a lot of messages from Greg Hurion that have to do with accounting and that aren't about OilFest. I handle requests for checks and information about purchase orders.
I want all of those accounting items that I need to turn around rather quickly to Greg, and I am going to pull those out of my Inbox as well. So I am going to right-click, and I am going to choose New Folder, and I am going to name the folder Accounting. So I have an Accounting folder, an OilFest2010 folder, and inside of OilFest2010, I have an OilFest Admin folder. Now, to move items, it's also very easy, and I can simply use drag and drop. Here is a request from Greg about an accounting item, a missing check, and I will simply drop that in my Accounting folder. There it is.
If there was a reason that I wanted to have two copies of this - I am going to drag it back to my Inbox - I actually could copy this to my Accounting folder. I would do that by taking the message, dragging it to Accounting, and before I drop it, I am going to hold down the Ctrl key on my keyboard, and if you note the icon attached to my pointer, it now has a plus on it, just as I would if I were copying a file on Windows. I hold the Ctrl key down while I release the mouse button, and now when I go to Accounting, there is a copy of it there. There is also a copy of it here.
I don't recommend this most of the time. I am trying to have less e-mail, not more, but if you need to move a message, this is one way to do it. I also have some information on OilFest from Judith from the Southern California Event Planners. I am just going to take that message and drag it and drop it in OilFest Admin, and you will notice when I do, this is an unread message, so it notes that I have one unread message in this folder, and the folder is bold. So it's very easy to create folders in your Inbox and be able to move items to keep your Inbox nice and flat, the messages that I haven't dealt with and haven't categorized, and then specific folders that allow me to be able to track the information that I have by project, by category, or by work team.
However you choose to define your folders, it's really easy to create them in Outlook 2010.
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