Is there a ‘Best Way’ to triage yourself out of email overload? You already have an email management approach for these situations, (you do, after all, have a good track record in delivering your results at work). You already know that you need to make priority decisions quickly on your emails so you can work smarter on the important and urgent in your inbox and get back up to speed almost as soon as you return to your desk.  Here’s an approach that Ian Harvey, who attended one of my programmes almost 3 years ago, told me yesterday that he uses. How does your approach stack up? Do share your thoughts here:

I like Ian’s approach  for 2 main reasons: 1) It uses built-in Outlook functionality to make the job easier and 2) It focuses on deleting the low value emails first. 

The Golden Rule: Commit to Deleting emails before you take any other action, no matter how compelling a particular email appears to be when reviewing it in this triage process.

  1. Go to ‘View’ in your top toolbar and hit ‘Arrange by’ and select ‘Show in Groups’ leaving the original View criteria in place.
  2. Go to View > Arrange by > Type> and Delete all Meeting Request Responses by highlighting the Group heading and hitting Delete
  3. Go to View > Arrange by > From > and delete all system / auto generated / spam mails using above method
  4. Go to View > Arrange by > Subject and delete all unnecessary mails using the above method.

OK, we now move into a more selective Triage on the remaining mails

  1. Go to View > Arrange by > Subject and/or Conversation (this will group mails by date within the Subject so you can review the newest to make a processing decision and delete the earlier ones).
  2. Go to View > Arrange by > Importance and see if any High Priority mails really need urgent attention

Because the 80/20 Rule is ruthless, you will now have removed much of the low value / no value email bulk from your inbox. If you are not a fan of Viewing your email in Groups (and I do not use the Group view – it looks too cluttered to my eye), simply go back to the ‘View’ menu on your toolbar and select ‘Arrange By’ > Date > make sure the ‘Show in Groups’ option is unchecked.

So, there you have it – Ian’s approach. I like it. Over to you:

Remember, if you want to go beyond Tips and want to build a robust productivity platform to get stuff done that will serve you for years just let me know and we will build a proven, practical programme that will deliver measurable, lasting results for you and your team.