Are you there email organization god? It’s me, Heather…

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This topic contains 11 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  Tom Suder 10 years, 1 month ago.

  • Author
  • #129822

    Heather S. Marsh

    They say the first step to recovery is acceptance. In the spirit of self-awareness, I accept that my work email inbox is out of control.

    Hello, my name is Heather and I’m an email hoarder.

    I’m not sure when it happened, but somewhere along the way I developed a fear of hitting the “delete” key…and now I’m swimming in a sea of emails, many of which I’m certain I do NOT need.

    I humbly admit my weakness to the group with hope that an angel of mercy will appear with tips, tricks, guidance or any other tool that will help me find my way to organized email heaven. Are you there? Will you help?


  • #129844

    Tom Suder

    You don’t have to delete them, you need to organize them.

    First of all you need a professional and personal account.

    Put all linkedin, facebook and any other mail that is personal sent to that file, then you can get to it when you get to it.

    On your professional email, make folders and “rules” to send mail automatically to those folders.

    I have a NEWSLETTER folder that I send all the reoccurring interesting newsletters that I am interested in. If they are all in the same box, then I can get to them all when I have time.

    Religiously unsubscribe from anything you don’t care about. Also mark SPAM. It saves so much time in the long run.

    I try to handle filing email as I go, but if I can’t, I always take care of everything before the end of the day or at worst, first thing in the morning.

    Hope that helps!

  • #129842

    Heather Thomas

    From another Heather – thank you!! I am so with you on this one, and thanks for the great tips Tom!

  • #129840

    Heather S. Marsh

    Thanks for the wonderful tips Tom, I can’t wait to implement a few. Do you suggest trying these pointers in Outlook?

  • #129838

    Tom Suder

    Yes.I have worked in outlook most of my career. I’m in google mail and I do essentially the same thing. One other think I didn’t mention is that you should manually file most of your emails into only a few buckets and leave the ones in your inbox until you complete them.

    My outlook boxes are simple:

    PERSONAL-buddies that still send things to my work email.
    NEWSLETTERS-which I make automatic

    COMPANY or COLLEAGUES- all your colleagues email goes here.


    USEFUL EMAILS-This is where most emails go. You can still sort or search them.

    I used to have 20 or so folders, but searching got pretty good over the years, so I reduced it.

    Hope this helps!

  • #129836

    Heather S. Marsh

    Awesome, thanks Tom!

  • #129834

    Dave Uejio

    Along similar lines, I recommend David Allen’s Getting Things Done method (GTD):

    I also use a couple of sweet plugins for Outlook: Clear Context Pro is amazing for folder creation and filing, and does email threading (think gmail) and color coding. It also costs a little more than I want to pay, so now I am using

    Xobni, which is like a google search for your inbox. In general I think there are 2 major ways to go with organizing – foldering and searching. Diligent folder users will know where things are and keep matching files in hard copy and electronically, in outlook and their drive. Searchers will agglomerate things but use naming conventions, tags, or their own demented logic/meta data to find things. I do both, even though it doesn’t totally make sense, which is the point – it works for me.

  • #129832

    Hey Tom – What happens after you’ve done all that and it’s still out of control? 🙂

  • #129830

    Dave – those are awesome tips!

  • #129828


    Use rules to automagically send inbox mail to a folder

    Use the archive feature in the mailbox cleanup to move mail to the archive. I use an archive for each year.

    Sort by names. Any one that you just need their contact info, drag the email to the contact folder. It will automatically move the entire email to the notes section of a contact record. The email will be automatically save. You can go back to the view and delete all of the emails from the person now that you have a contact record.

    Use the find button in mailbox clean up to locate files with attachments. You can move them to your own PST file taking it out of the inbox folder which is where your quota is set.

  • #129826

    Sachin Shah

    I second using GTD. I have the book in print, audio, and Kindle and often give it as a gift.

    Heather, here are a couple of quick tips to purge large amounts of Email quickly:

    1. Set your inbox to be arranged by Type. You can then go through an eliminate all the Out of Office messages, obslete meeting requests, meeting cancellation notices, etc.

    2. Set your inbox to be arranged by From. Then you can eliminate all of the newsletters, conference announcements, training course marketing, agency spam, and so forth in one fell swoop. Then you can go through and eliminate unnecessary personal Emails from friends and/or spouses.

    Just these two steps should reduce your inbox by 30-40 percent, guaranteed or your money back.

    Then you go through and archive all the old and one-off conversations that are official government business. That should get your inbox 50 percent smaller.

    Then go to Amazon and order Getting Things Done.

    Best of luck,


  • #129824

    Heather S. Marsh

    I’m so happy to see all these amazing tips! I’ve already set up a few folders and rules, which I almost forgot about. I started thinking it was a quite week and then I remembered my folders! Ha! Now I just need to remember to check them so I don’t miss anything important…like all of the wonderful posts from all the amazing people on GovLoop! 🙂

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