Business technology

Email tips: How to use rules, folders and signatures

- April 3, 2006 2 MIN READ

In the same way we regularly clean up our office, so, too we should tidy up our inbox. These email tips include ideas on how to use rules, folders, signatures and more to streamline your email.

From my experience, email users fall into one of 3 categories:

1. The Hoarder keeps absolutely everything…..just in case;

2. The Deleter instantly deletes what they don’t need;

3. The In Betweener describes those that try to manage it as best they can, but occasionally want to smash the keyboard with a hammer.

Author’s Note: By the way I have done this (smashing a keyboard with a hammer)…I recommend it as a cathartic experience, just don’t do it on the keyboard you use every day!

In the same way we clean up our desk and our office, so, too we should think about tidying up our email. With ideas on how to use email rules, folders, signatures and more, these email tips can help.

Like a filing cabinet, over time your email becomes clogged up with messages and attachments that you just don’t get around to printing, deleting or filing.

Once a quarter, try allocating some time to review your email, whether you are utilising its capabilities and if it is still reflecting the image you want to portray to clients.

Want more articles like this? Check out the managing email section.

Here are seven tips to consider:

1. Do you have a big long list of folders for your messages?

Perhaps you can abbreviate it by creating main ‘category’ folders to which you add sub folders. In Outlook, sub folders can be created by dragging a folder to the folder you want it inside of. For example, you could have a client folder and have sub folders representing each of your clients. Or you can have a client folder and two sub folders for active and inactive clients.

2. Utilise rules

Once you have created folders, rules enable you to automate messages you send to clients to go straight to the client folder, which saves you having to find and file them later. See your email program’s Help feature to learn more about rules.

3. Check your email signature

Do you have one? If not, you might want to consider a signature with your contact details, or revamp the one you have. Signatures are a great way of encouraging prospective clients to visit your website or sign up to a newsletter. Try not to make it too long and change it from time to time.

4. Empty your deleted items bin

If you haven’t retrieved a message from deleted items today, chances are you are never going to need it. If you aren’t sure, archive it or print it out instead.

5. Utilise other capabilities

Examples are tasks or calendar in your mail. Messages can often be dragged and dropped to the calendar or task list to create an entry to which you can add reminders.

6. Check your email at certain times of the day

This is as opposed to having messages download every ten minutes or so. This avoids the obvious interruptions, but rest assured, the world won’t stop if you don’t answer your emails within 30 seconds of receiving them.

7. BACK UP your email and contacts.

To find where these are stored on your computer, go to Tools on the Outlook menu, Options, Mail Setup, Data Files.

Donna has also written another article about how to set up a computer backup system – Ed