Organising your Inbox

How do we keep track of this tool to stay up to date with our daily tasks and messages.

As a professional, we realise that our inbox is an important part of our daily routine.

We’ve all been there, right? After an exciting whirlwind vacation, you come back to work, open Outlook, and find two thousand unread messages waiting for you. It’s enough to make you want to go back on vacation. Or never take a vacation again.

But Outlook is a powerful program, and it can help you tame that inbox quickly—probably a lot faster than you could have imagined.

Manage your email after vacation

Preparing for vacation

Let’s follow along with Our self as we prepare to leave for a ten-day vacation.

We handle communication and coordination for five separate projects, we a member of twenty different mailing lists, and we also receives a small number of personal email messages each day.

While We are out of the office, a collogue will be the main point of contact for three of our projects, and another will handle the other two.

The last time You went on vacation, you set your Automatic Replies to let everyone know that you would be back in ten days, but didn’t do anything else. When You returned, your Inbox had grown from 50 messages to 500 messages or possibly many more.

This time, You could spend spend a few minutes the day before you leave with several of Outlook’s key features to help yourself come back from vacation stress-free.

Step 1

To set up your own automatic replies, see Send automatic out of office replies from Outlook.

We all know that setting up an Automatic Reply can head off a lot of questions and confusion for our coworkers. Since we have Microsoft 365, we can Select File Automatic Replies, and types in the following text.


Thanks for your message. I’m out of the office between “Start Date” and “End Date”. I will not be checking email while I’m gone.

For assistance with the Contoso, Fourth Coffee, and Tailspin Toys projects, please contact Chester Beane.

For help with the Northwind project, contact Cheryl Jenkins. 

— “Your Name”

Now we can set our automatic replies to turn on the day we leave and turn off the day we get back. This is a great Step 1. However, we all know Outlook has other features we can use to help us keep our inbox under control.

Now, We can can move on to Step 2 Creating rules.

Rules allow us to forward, delete or file mails in folders for any incoming email based on a from email address, text in the subject line or in the mail content.

After Vacation

What if you weren’t as organized as in the example above before you left on vacation?

Let’s follow the scenario without the above replies and rules as we attempt to deal with an overloaded inbox after a ten-day vacation. We did set up an automatic reply, but he didn’t give our coworkers any instructions while we were away.

When we return from our vacation, we have 1243 messages in our inbox. Luckily, we have Outlook as part of our Microsoft 365 subscription, so we can quickly and easily sort, filter, and deal with those messages using a few key Outlook features.

  • Step:
    1. Sort
    2. Filter
    3. Search
    4. Group

First, we sort our messages by priority. This places all of the high priority messages—those we’ll have to deal with quickly—at the top of the inbox.

Sort your messages by importance.

To do this, we select the By Date dropdown at the top of the message list and chooses Importance. This sorts the inbox for us.

We can now spend fifteen minutes answering the five High importance messages, file them into folders, and then change the sort order by clicking the dropdown again and selecting Low on top to bring the Low importance messages to the top of our message list. These messages get only a quick scan, and then we delete all but one of them. “Lunch invitations”, a “fire drill notification”, and a “warning about a power outage” three days ago aren’t messages we need to reply to.

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