Getting organised: Your Email Inbox

Working part-time concentrates the mind wonderfully – you have to work smarter to ensure that you get everything done and remember your work priorities when you return to the office after an evening spent on cooking, homework and all things household or a day off doing more or less the same.

I rely on my Outlook folders to help me keep track of live projects and as a reference tool as required.  However I was finding them harder and harder to use and maintain and finally worked out why.  They reflected a large project I worked on last year rather than my current smaller projects.

So I decided that it would definitely be worth using some of my precious work time to declutter and streamline my folder system so that it was less cumbersome and easier to use. I particularly wanted fewer levels so that I could find and file emails without having to open one or two sub-folders.

Realising that I may still want to refer to some of the older emails from time to time, I firstly created a ZArchive folder that now appears as the last main folder in my Inbox.  I then created some subfolders based on the previous file structure but with the word Archive at the end so that I didn’t get confused.  Eg ProjectA became ProjectAArchive.  I am also using ZArchive for any emails that I am not sure whether to finally delete or not.

I have budgeted about 20 minutes a day to work on this and have stuck to this so  far.  Whole projects have been moved to ZArchive and I now have one level less of subfolders making it much easier to get to previous emails.  Along the way, I have found some interesting emails that are useful for current projects as well as whole subfolders that can be deleted (I so love the delete button).  It definitely counts as a decluttering process!

I am already feeling the benefits of my new streamlined Inbox as it now reflects my current requirements rather than those of a year or more ago.  My plan is to review ZArchive in 3 months – I will put a reminder in my Outlook calendar – and see if I am ready to delete more old emails and folders.

So now that Spring is almost here – well, we can always hope – give your Inbox a spring clean!

Do tell us how you get on.

Sally

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