Tag Archives: Mailbox management

How to handle post-holiday mailbox deluge

Welcome back after a long holiday. I am sure an overflowing mailbox is waiting for you. Here are some simple but useful ways to get a grip on it and handle it efficiently.

  1. Mails received earlier are waiting longer. Therefore, try to start from the day after you went on leave. If you went on leave from Christmas, go to the Search box and type received>25 dec 2015
  2. Now sort the results in descending order of time and check for important mails.
  3. Look for mails which are addressed ONLY TO YOU. This is easily done by creating a special rule.
  4. Think of important customers, boss, or other high priority senders. Create a rule which highlights mails from them using a color category. Group by that category and handle these mails first.
  5. One approach is to look at unread mails only. But nowadays, we often see the mails first on a mobile phone. This marks the mail as read. In spite of that action may still be pending. Therefore Unread mails is an unreliable indicator of pending work. To avoid this confusion in the future, use the message flag when you read a mail on mobile but intend to act upon it later.
  6. Convert actionable mails to Tasks and put a deadline. DO NOT mark them with the follow up flag. Drag the mail using the right mouse button and drop it on to the Task icon. Choose the Move with Attachments option.
  7. Filter on Importance flag. Mind you, this flag is usually set by the sender. However, if it is important to the sender, there is a good chance that it is important to you as well. Type Importance: High in the Search box.
  8. Confidential mails are generally more important. Type Sensitivity: Confidential in the Search box to find such mails. There is no easy way to filter IRM protected mails. These mails are visually identifiable with this type of icon how to handle post-holiday mailbox deluge

If you use an Office 365 mailbox, use Clutter to automatically segregate less important mails. That’s it for now. Happy New Year.

Outlook: Reduce Inbox Clutter using Artificial Intelligence

Outlook clutter


Outlook Online recently added a very useful new feature called Clutter. It helps you focus on important mails.

Activate it and use it. Here are the guidelines for using this brilliant Outlook Clutter.

Estimated reading time 8 min

Continue reading Outlook: Reduce Inbox Clutter using Artificial Intelligence

A new outlook towards Outlook!

Life Log

Wrote this article at Matheran, a beautiful hill station near Mumbai. Everything there was so picturesque that I thought of writing a blog only with visuals -with minimal text. Then I remembered a great feature in Word called Stylistic sets – which allows you to create the artistic text shown below. Read this article to find out how.


Here is a summary of what we learnt in these articles about Outlook management.

  1. The Outlook paradox: Are you helping others at the cost of your own work?
  2. Tasks folder is your best friend!
  3. Stop New Mail popup interruptions
  4. Never delegate work using email: Use Outlook Tasks
  5. How to identify important mails automatically?
  6. How NOT to handle Inbox
  7. DO NOT flag mails for follow up. There is a better way…
  8. Arrange meetings with yourself = Time Management
  9. How to identify important mails automatically?


new outlook







How to identify important mails automatically?

Please read the previous article, How NOT to handle Inbox, before reading this article.










Create a rule – Check if the mail is Sent Only To Me


Apply color category


Choose any color and rename it as “High Priority”


Click Next.
We don’t have any exceptions right now.
Click Next again…

In the final step… Run the rule on existing mails as well







How to important mails?


In the next article, we will summarize the Task, Time and Mail management best practices.


Stop New Mail popup interruptions

Life Log


Recently went to see the India-NZ match one day match at Wellington – thanks to my good friend Murray Beer. Although India lost miserably, it was great fun to be there.

Now back to business …


Older Windows

how to stop new mail popup irritation

Windows 8



File – Options – Mail



Windows 8 – Change PC Settings – Notifications


Windows 8 notification does not provide Flag and Delete options.




Home tab – Rules and Alerts – New Rule



Specify what Outlook should look for (the condition)


Specify the Action (show popup)


In some versions of Outlook, this option may not be available. In that case, choose the option display a specific message …

With Windows 8, remember to turn the notifications for Outlook 2013 ON (Settings – Change PC settings – Notifications)

Create as many rules as required for displaying alerts for only those messages which are important to you.

Manage Other Distractions

New Mail notification is just ONE of the distractions. But that is just one of many!

Colleagues, bosses, visitors, phone calls, meetings, chat notifications, SMS / Text messages, FB / Twitter updates, the list is endless.

Distractions are only going to increase. Which ones to suppress is entirely up to you!

Next article

We will see how to prioritize messages…

How NOT to handle Inbox

Usually we handle mailbox like this… which is the wrong way!


Of course we never reach the bottom…because something interrupts us.

Meetings, phone calls, people who are walking around, lunch … so many interrupts are around us.


Older mails are being pushed further down into the bottomless pit called Inbox


Due to this, everyone is pushing everyone else down and down and down … into an area which you are never going to reach…

Net result?


.. we call this TEAMWORK Angry smileSteaming madSad smile

Obviously, something is wrong here. What is it?

The Root Cause: Wrong prioritization

Yes. We have a genuine problem.

Too many mails and too little time to handle them

We need to prioritize which mails we respond to.

We think recent mails are important and older are less important. That is the WRONG way of prioritization.

The right way

Prioritization must be based upon importance. (NOT the importance flag. That is the sender’s perception of importance).

Sorting on any Inbox column is not useful for prioritization!

The right way is:

  1. Find a method of prioritization which is as automated as possible
  2. Prioritize on importance – the mail should be worth your attention
  3. Handle High Priority mails first and then think of remaining ones

In the next article we will see how this is done…

Spring cleaning: Mailbox clean up with AutoArchive

We have been using email for decades now. A lot of things have changed. But one thing has not – most of us don’t have the discipline of managing the mailbox in an optimal way.

I am not asking you to do a spring cleaning of your mails. I am showing you immediate actions you can take to make your mailbox management (and communications) more efficient.

Run AutoArchive NOW

Do you remember this dialog popping up randomly when you are busy? Nobody in the world has chosen YES here Sad smile

clean inbox with Outlook AutoArchive

Many of us got irritated and chose the option Don’t prompt me about this again!

There goes your chance of keeping the mailbox clean and light.

The idea is simple. AutoArchive does many things which are good for you. So just run it periodically. You have not run it before? Then run it now.

I am assuming Outlook 2010 or above.

Choose File – Cleanup Tools – Mailbox Cleanup

Mailbox Cleanup

Now a bigger dialog appears… You can explore other things later. Just click on the AutoArchive button.


And let it do its job. It may take a long time. Status is shown on the status bar.

What does AutoArchive do?

To know what it does and to tweak the settings, go to File – Options – Advanced – AutoArchive options…

Look at the options and tweak them as required. Basically, it moves old items and puts them in a new PST file – ARCHIVE.PST.

Make sure you click the Apply these settings to all folders now option.

Later you can right click on a specific folder – go to properties and customize the settings if required.

AutoArchive settings

What is deleted?

Only deleted items which are older than the cleanup limit (default 6 months) are deleted. Everything else is moved to the archive PST file. No mails or calendar items are deleted. Contacts folder is never archived – that means all your contacts are always available in the main mailbox.

Finding archived items

You don’t have to do anything special for this. Outlook search indexes the Archive PST files as well. So these are available for navigation as well as regular search.

If the archive file is big, indexing may require some time to finish the job. It is a good idea to check the indexing status and if many items are pending.

To check the indexing status, go to Inbox – click inside the search box – on the search Ribbon, choose Search Tools – Indexing Status.


The dialog below shows the pending number of items.


Ideally there should be zero or very few items to be indexed. If a large number of items are shown here, leave the machine on overnight and check in the morning again. That should give enough time for indexing to finish the backlog.

Remember: Archive is not available online

The pst file is created on the PC on which you run the AutoArchive. Therefore, items which have been moved to the archive folder will NOT be available to you when you are working on a mobile phone or any other mailbox only device.

Finally – One Best Practice

Best Practice: Whenever you finish handling a mail, it should not remain in the Inbox.

Delete it. Or if you want to keep it, keep it in a PST folder. Not in the main mailbox. If you follow this simple rule, you will never face a problem of mailbox filling up every now and then.

By the way, Office 365 subscription gives you a mailbox that is 50 GB in size… did you know that?