Making e-mail simpler and easier to handle: using Microsoft Outlook rules

In my earlier blog post, I hinted that I had a few more tips’n’tricks that are helping me get on top (and stay on top) of my e-mail.

This one is somewhat simpler than my “move to folder” tip.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll be on a number of mailing lists and online subscriptions. It can be easy to mentally block these out, however even over a short space of time, more than a handful can build up. Rather than touching each one individually, I prefer to be able to group the offending e-mails together.

To help me achieve, this I have a single rule that is capable of identifying where an e-mail comes from – mailing lists and subscriptions are usually pretty consistent with the From: and Subject: fields, so it’s easy to spot words or e-mail addresses that *always* appear in such e-mails. My rule then makes use of an action to set the priority of the e-mail to low. This way I can sort my inbox by priority, whereupon I can deal with the low priority items in one go.

Creating a rule in Microsoft Outlook is fairly straightforward, so I won’t bore you with the precise steps involved. Your starting point is the Tools menu followed by the Rules and Alerts menu option.

I have a Low Priority rule that sets all e-mail from Computer Weekly and Building Magazine have a priority of low. Sorry folks, I do read your e-mails, but I want to be able to file or delete them quickly too!

As such, this results in my inbox looking like this:

As you can see, e-mails from the two parties mentioned in the rule are automatically marked as low priority. Sorting (by clicking on the ! in the header row), filing and deleting are now that bit easier.

Other posts
GTD Action/Deferred/WaitingFor/Someday folders in Microsoft Outlook – Show Item Count
Making e-mail simpler and easier to handle: using Microsoft Outlook rules
Elementary GTD using Microsoft Outlook “move to folder”

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