Processing and Organizing Your E-Mail in Microsoft Office Outlook 2007

  • 6/13/2007


After 30 minutes is up, take the total number of e-mail messages you started with, deduct the current number, and subtract the number of new e-mail messages that came in over the last 30 minutes. This will give you the total number of e-mail messages you processed in 30 minutes. It’s extremely useful to see how many you can handle in that short a time period, and observe what it’s like to make effective decisions on each and every message you touch. Hey, we bet you are surprised by how many you processed and organized in 30 minutes.

So, what were your awareness’s while doing this?

Here’s what our clients have to say:

  • “It’s much easier than I thought to complete e-mails in less than two minutes.”

  • “I deleted at least half of them!”

  • “I’m concerned about moving everything onto my To-Do Bar.”

  • “I like being able to track delegated items in my 1:1 categories.”

  • “I got a lot done in a concentrated period of time!”

  • “It worked to force myself to make decisions for each and every e-mail message.”

  • “It was easy to transfer reference material into my new Reference System.”

  • “I like writing clearer Subject lines.”

  • “I used the Cc line a lot less!”

  • “Deferring e-mail messages to my To-Do Bar was useful.”

  • “I still have 2,000 e-mail messages to go, and at 60 an hour, that’s 16 hours!”

  • “I was surprised how many e-mail messages I receive that don’t relate to my objectives!”

  • “It takes discipline to make decisions about what to do with each and every e-mail message in my Inbox.”

  • “Most of what was in my Inbox was reference material that I hadn’t filed.”

Now that you know how many e-mail messages you can process in 30 minutes, we want you to apply that to the number of e-mail messages you actually receive a day and calculate how much time you’ll need per day to process your e-mail. Make sure you answer this question accurately and avoid guessing on the basis of the number of e-mails that are currently in your Inbox. If you have 500 or more messages in your Inbox, it can feel like you’re receiving hundreds a day. However, you may actually be receiving only 50 a day, and so don’t go by the total volume. Find out how many you actually receive a day.

When you know what your daily volume is, you can calculate how much time you’ll need to schedule to process your e-mail each day. You might be pleasantly surprised at this number. If you receive 60 messages a day and you’re able to process 60 messages an hour, you’ll be able to complete your e-mail in one hour each day. The empty Inbox is in sight! All you need to do is book an hour of uninterrupted time each day and follow the Four Ds discipline. This habit will keep your e-mail under control and your Inbox empty. If you have a higher daily e-mail volume, you’ll learn, later in this chapter, how to reduce the number of incoming messages.

By now, we hope you’re realizing that by changing your approach to how you process and organize your e-mail you can change your relationship with it. You can gain control of your e-mail and have it be a productivity tool that serves you. Education is a powerful tool, especially when clients are motivated to change.