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Keep Your Inbox Clean and Organized with Outlook Rules

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Submitted by Tim Roper on Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Even if your spam filter does a great job of separating the wheat from the chaff, chances are the volume of legitimate emails you receive sometimes overwhelms your inbox. Fortunately, Outlook has a powerful “rules” filter to help keep your emails organized. Go to Tools –> Rules and Alerts to tell Outlook what to do with your messages and avoid some of these common inbox inconveniences.

CC Crisis – Sometimes a co-worker’s admirable attempt to keep you “in the loop” by Cc-ing you on every communiqué results in a barrage of emails that you don’t need to spend a lot of time on. Outlook’s filter can file messages where your address appears only in the Cc: or Bcc: field into a folder marked as such. If something requires your urgent attention, the sender will most likely put your name in the To: field.

Newsletter Neurosis – If you’ve opted-in for daily, weekly, or monthly newsletters, chances are you don’t have the time to sit down and read them every time one arrives. Create a rule to file such messages in a “Newsletter” folder.

Report Rage – Similarly, setting up a rule to file periodic reports into a separate folder gives you a convenient place to keep them until you’re ready to view them.

Vacation Vitriol – Create a rule to filter Out-of-Office/Vacation auto-replies. This is particularly useful if you’re sending emails to a large number of recipients and don’t need to know that a handful of them are at the doctor’s office for the afternoon or in Hawaii for the week. Just be sure to check that folder if you send an email that needs immediate attention.

Social Media Malaise – Tired of your inbox chirping every time someone comments on your Facebook status? Create rules to file messages from LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc. to a separate folder.

For best results, use Outlook’s rules as an organizing tool—not as a detection method of unsolicited email. That’s what your spam filter is for.

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