Are you misusing the 50 GB Mailbox?

50 GB Mailbox

As a part of Office 365, you get a 50 GB mailbox. That does not automatically make you more efficient. Read on to find out what NOT to do. Estimated reading time 7 min.

Photo credit: Tom Verre / Foter / CC BY

This article is only for people who have large inboxes. You don’t have one? Try using Office 365. You get a 50 GB mailbox. If you are still struggling with stingy mailboxes sizes, talk to your IT team and ask them to upgrade your life.

But this article is for those of you who already have this luxury of 50 GB Inbox. It may sound like an enviable thing to have to start with. But from what I have seen, globally, this leads to more issues rather than benefits.

We will discuss the disadvantages of having a large mailbox in this article.

Mailbox size constraints

For decades we struggled with limited mailbox sizes. Storage was costly and therefore in short supply. “Mailbox getting full” was a daily tragedy we had to contend with. We had to struggle with PST files, lots of Rules, folders, backups and so on. We had to beg for more space from IT teams (and outsourced agencies Winking smile). One of the perks of getting a promotion was a bigger mailbox size. But I have seen even the Chairman and CEO struggling with saturated mailboxes – and we call IT as an Enabler. Ha ha.

Anyway, now we are at the other end of the spectrum. Suddenly, you have 50 GB of mailbox size. Some people are so confused that they actually count the zeros and double check whether they are dreaming! Don’t worry. This is real. Whether you are a student or a board member – you get 50 GB. Democratization of mailbox space!

So now there is no worry of mailbox getting full. No need to keep local PSTs, create weird rules, moving large mails manually, life is happier.

Or is it?

There is one limitation which still persists – the size of individual mail. That is not unlimited. Usually 25 MB is the limit.

Lots of space is not good

Now we have reached another extreme. Due to cut-throat competition amongst providers of internet based mail systems, everyone is promising more and more space per mailbox. And we have not ended that phase yet. As of now Office 365 gives you 50 GB mailbox. Google gives unlimited, Yahoo gives.

They are giving it NOT because you need it but because they need more customers.

But what are most of these “fortunate” individuals doing with this larger than required mailbox space?

They are wasting it efficiently! No more botheration about mail size. Rampant use of CCs with attachments, attaching multiple versions of the same file or multiple pieces of a potentially single file… all kinds of bad habits (which were always there) are now becoming more rampant.

I have not come across people who have already filled their 50 GB mailbox, but it is just a matter of time before that happens on a large scale. Remember we used to have 20 MB Hard Disk space once upon a time? When 1 GB HDD came, everyone thought that will be sufficient throughout my entire lifespan. Ha ha. You know what happened.

Now, if this larger amount of mailbox usage was functionally relevant and had a positive business impact, it is a great thing. But usually it just means amplified misuse.

What should I do with 50 GB mailbox?

Simple solution – just forget about the fact that it is there. Realize the fact that you get more than just a large mailbox with Office 365.

You get OneDrive, Lync, Sites, Groups and Yammer as well. Think of how you are going to utilize these new tools INSTEAD of just using Mail.

A better approach

Let us divide our mailbox into two categories – things which come in and things which go out. Why am I saying “Things” instead of saying “Mails”? Because you get tasks, meeting requests, contacts, synchronized SharePoint libraries and of course mails as well.

Incoming stuff

  1. Enable Clutter (See How to use Clutter)
  2. Create rules to handle mails requiring special actions automatically
  3. Observe repetitive actions you perform on mails and convert them to Quick Steps.
  4. Mark unwanted mails as Clutter or Junk – depending upon the context.
  5. Prioritize mails based upon whether YOU were the only person addressed to
  6. Refine your approach with more rules and quick steps

Outgoing stuff

  1. If you want to communicate (without anything to attach), use email
  2. If it requires a meeting choose whether it should be physical meeting or Lync meeting
  3. If you want to send a file – DON’T send it. Think about it a little:
    1. If you are DELIVERING the file (send and forget) – attach it to a mail and send it
    2. If you are interested in the file AFTER it reaches the target, SHARE it by saving it to OneDrive or a SharePoint Site and sharing a link to it.
    3. If you want immediate results, annotation and a visual audit trail, share the file with the other party using Lync and record the interaction.
  4. If you don’t know whom to communicate with, post it on Yammer.
  5. If you want to let the relevant people have a look at a file – but you don’t know who are those people, save the file to OneDrive and post a link to Yammer.
  6. If you want to capture data from multiple persons, use SharePoint list instead
  7. If you have a group of people who have to be on sync using email, create a Group in Office 365
  8. To monitor commonly used files and common people interactions, use Delve
  9. If the file is “for your eyes only”, use IRM features to protect the data

There is a difference between mails and tasks

Tasks are the way to do what you are supposed to – in a timely manner. Break-down your job profile into discreet tasks, monitor them and execute the.

If you are sending a mail to get your work done from someone else, send a Task instead. It allows you to monitor the execution and increases accountability.

Manage more meetings online

Creating an online Lync meeting is very easy. Use this feature to avoid wastage of time in physical meetings. Virtual meetings are good. To the point. And Crisp.

Keep the inbox empty

The principles mentioned above are universal. Therefore the same concept can be applied to other cloud providers and Office clones.


Here is the Outlook Reading List for more ideas on how to use Outlook more efficiently.