Conquering a cluttered inbox

Yesterday I sat down at my desk and set out my mission for the day – to conquer my email. I have been meaning to do it for a while, ever since I upgraded to Office 2010 a few months ago in fact. Yesterday I couldn’t move forward until it was done. Now that I have succeeded in my mission I wanted to share the process here.

Before you read on there’s one thing to note – the first two steps require Outlook 2010.

  1. I began by turning on the Conversationsfeature to nest emails by subject. I use Gmail for my personal email and this is a feature I really value. Until yesterday I didn’t realise that it could be done in Outlook too. Hurrah! This instantly gives the illusion of a less cluttered inbox.


    How to turn on Conversations

  2. Next I used the Clean Up tool which becomes enabled when you use Conversations. This deletes any duplicate content in conversations. There’s a good video from Microsoft Showcasedemonstrating the Clean Up tool, but unfortunately I can’t embed it here. If you use the Microsoft Exchange server you will need to switch to cached mode before you can use this feature.


    How to de-duplicate your email

  3. The next step for me was to set up a new folder structure. I previously had quite a complex hierarchy of folders within folders. This is great in theory, but in practice it becomes a real chore to move emails out of your inbox and into the right folder. So I’ve simplified things. I now have 7 top level folders, only 3 of which have sub-folders and in total I’ve only got 2 levels in the hierarchy. This will allow me to roughly group emails by theme and then I will use search to find specific items.


    Folder structure

  4. Finally I checked on my rules. This is a really easy way to filter emails directly into folders. I mainly use this for emails relating to the Business Librarians Association for which I have two rules set up, one for committee emails and the other for the LIS-Business mailing list.

And there we have it.

2 thoughts on “Conquering a cluttered inbox

  1. Thanks for this! Our email system has just been ‘upgraded’ and I HATE the conversations feature, so thanks to you I have just disabled it. I’m a much happier librarian as a result.

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