Get your inbox to empty after your holiday – fast

In my Each Day Empty eBook, I describe how to quickly empty your inbox reliably day after day. But after an extended holiday, you may need some extra help to tackle your inbox. My own Outlook downloaded 3,200 emails when I returned –  was I ever glad I already knew some of the following tips!  Now they’re yours, too!

  1. Learn how to sort and group e-mails in your mail reader. In Outlook you can use the View | Arrange By item in the main menu.
  2. Sort all mails in your inbox by Subject. A lot of the spam that gets through your spam filter will be grouped together now. You can quickly remove all mail starting with Cyrillic symbols (unless you happen to live in Russia) and any spam that has the same subject repeated in the Subject box can easily be spotted.
  3. Next, sort all of your mails by the To field. This may not be relevant to everyone, but I still get e-mails (especially spam) that was sent to an e-mail address other than my own. Sorting this way helps remove these messages easily.
  4. Now sort the remaining e-mails by From and Date. This way you group all mail that came from each specific sender, in the order they were sent. Your rate of speed may vary while doing this, but I tend to scan quickly through all mail, starting with the oldest ones. But I don’t reply to any of the mails at this stage because this way I can read up on the developments, better understand my customers and employees, and keep myself from replying to something which has changed or been revoked in a more recent e-mail.
  5. After taking these steps, I’m up-to-date again. I’m aware of current issues, I know whether there are serious problems that need my attention, and I know which e-mails I’m going to want to answer first.

Even before I go on vacation, I think about my first days back in the office. In my out-of-office autoreply, I mention the date I think I will be answering e-mails again – and make that date several days after I return from vacation. This way, I don’t have to tackle e-mails while in an ‘urgent’ catch-up mood and I can continue to feel rested and relaxed from the vacation I’ve just enjoyed.

Fortunately, as soon as I’m up-to-date again, it’s a breeze to keep my inbox empty each day for the rest of the year.

[w] = I’m waiting for you

Did you know? Using a simple [w] in your emails can greatly improve the quality of your life. Read this step-by-step explanation to find out exactly how this works in Microsoft Outlook.

If you delegate, order, or ask anything via email, you can command Outlook to add that email to a Waiting For list just by adding a simple [w] to the body of the email.

A [w] at the bottom of your email is inconspicuous, so most people won’t notice it. It’s a powerful tool to keep your Waiting For list up to date and your mind at ease

To enable this feature, simply create a new WaitingFor-Email folder and add a rule.

I copied this description from my webpage at http://waiting-for.com. I built that website to let others know about the [w] command and encourage you to do the same. Go ahead — make someone’s day!

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How do I get my inbox to empty each day?

Welcome to this weblog.

My name is Taco Oosterkamp.  I’m fascinated with using Outlook in the context of Getting Things Done, the system for time and stress management developed by David Allen.

On this blog I’ll share tips and tricks about setting up Microsoft Outlook for maximum productivity. My inspiration for the matter will come from Each Day Empty eBook, which I wrote last year, and the training courses that I develop and teach here in the Netherlands.

Use the sign up box at the top-right corner to get all published articles for free.

Enjoy! 
Taco Oosterkamp

(And yes, that’s my real name. And it has nothing to do with burritos :-))