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I have been struggling since I joined Microsoft to ensure that
- I don’t miss any messages that are important
- I spend less time managing my 600+ daily emails *
- I file everything away in case I need it later
- I can find things quickly
(* I archive frequently, and read feverishly, but a quick search found 2300 unread emails as I wrote this).
This is made much more complicated because I look at my email through three views: on my desktop, via the web (rare) and via my phone (frequent). Set aside the web; when I’m looking via my desktop I don’t mind if new messages show up in a folder, and folders help keep me organized.
My new phone is the AT&T Fuze which I’m coming to love. but like the Dash before it, it is designed to strongly favor the inbox. It will synchronize with any folders I want, but the tilt towards the inbox is strong enough that messages elsewhere are easy to miss.
(NB: I don’t use the "touch flow" interface shown here)
Solving All My Outlook Issues At Once
I have tried various solutions, but I’ve finally hit on one I really like, and I thought I’d write it up briefly in case it might simplify your life. The key, or me, is to
- make sure that everything I care to see goes to my inbox
- I don’t have to file (nearly) anything
- Things I don’t need to see do not go to my inbox.
This is all accomplished with a couple very simple rules. First, I created a category called "Filed" Then, for nearly every person or group that I care to see, I created a rule that told Outlook to make a copy of the message and file it on arrival and to mark the original (in the inbox) as in the category filed. Thus, when looking at my inbox, I see this:
As you can see, all but one of the messages is already marked filed. I can then tick through the messages, deleting them as I read them, knowing that they are already filed away where I want them.
(I could use different categories rather than just "filed" to indicate where they are filed, but since I have a couple hundred folders that would get tricky).
Most important, since all the messages now go to the inbox (and are not "moved" by a rule but rather copied) I know I’m seeing them on the phone.
Here are my basic rules:
Anything I want to see:
Anything I want to file but don’t want to see