How to Spend Less Time Dealing with Email

Email is important, but it seems to steal so much of your valuable time, doesn’t it? Conquering your never-ending inbox can seem like a feat all in itself — let alone having it done before lunch. There’s an easier way, and when done properly, you’ll be able to spend less time sifting through your email and more time on the more important stuff.

Make Your Inbox Do the Work for You

You’ve got better things to do than organizing and prioritizing your emails manually. Granted, you’ll still need to respond to important emails, but most email clients have everything you need to set up a system that automatically parses and sorts emails based on a whole slew of different factors. It will take a little time, and likely a few rounds of adjustments, to get your inbox to work the way you want it to, but we’re going to show you the tools that will help get you there.

Most businesses either use Microsoft Outlook or Google’s Gmail, so we’re going to cover these two email platforms.

Gmail’s Labels and Filters

If you use Gmail, there are two tools you’ll want to get familiar with: Labels and Filters.

A label is exactly what it sounds like. Applying a label to an email will essentially categorize it, and you can organize labels based on a wide variety of topics. Maybe you have a label for each project you are working on or a label for different types of correspondence. Organizing your email into labels makes it easier to pull up specific emails later without having to rely on searching for them. More than one label can be applied to any particular email.

To create a label, just select Create new label in the sidebar under the More link, or select the Tag Icon Box that appears when an email is selected. You’ll be able to select any labels you already have, or create a new one. You’ll also be able to color-code each label.

But remember, we want to save time, so instead of having to manually move emails to a label, you can create filters to automatically apply labels to certain types of messages. Once you have some labels created, go to Settings, and click the Filters and Blocked Addresses tab. Once there, select Create a new filter.

You can also start this process by doing a Search from the top of your Gmail. Click the dropdown arrow in the search box at the top of your email, and you can fill out the form to search for specific emails. You can create filters based on who the email is from, what email address the email is sent to, the subject line, words within the email, and more.

To send all correspondence from a certain person to a specific label, put their email address in the To: line and click Create Filter. Then, Gmail will allow you to choose what to do to all emails from them. There is the option to star it to make it stand out, apply a label or a variety of other options.

Microsoft Outlook’s Rules and Folders

Microsoft Outlook’s process is pretty similar. Instead of filters and labels, Microsoft calls them rules and folders. Here are the steps to set up new rules:

  • Right-click the message and select Rules, then, select Create Rule.
  • Then, you need to select the conditions that activate the rule and what that means.
  • Make sure you select Run this new rule now on messages already in the current folder, and click OK to finalize your rule.

This means you will need to have a folder to file these messages in. While the option will be presented to you as you create a rule, you can also set up your folders separately in advance.

  • In the Mail pane, right-click where you want to add your folder and select New Folder… from the menu that appears.
  • Name your folder, and press Enter.

It takes time to build all of the rules or filters you need to streamline your inbox, but it will ultimately save you hours of time that would otherwise be wasted sifting through your inbox. It’s all about becoming more efficient!

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