Get organised with your emails

Do you keep all your emails in one never-ending list in your in-box? That’s a bit like having an overflowing pile of project papers, magazines, business cards, and letters from months back in the physical in-box on your desk. It’s cluttering up your desk and most importantly – cluttering up your mind.

Many of my third sector clients tell me how overwhelming their in-box is. Take 15 minutes to try the three top tips here and you’ll get your in-box back to it’s true lovely nature – a set of messages which (may) require your attention, rather than a staging post before you decide what on earth to do with them. I promise you’ll feel way more in control, and in my next blogs I’ll share how to keep it that way.

email files pic1. Use the new folder button on the left hand side of your screen to make folders for all your projects.  Microsoft won’t let you file sent emails so a nice trick is to bcc yourself so a copy goes into your in-box which you can file straightaway in the right folder. File any emails in here which don’t require action.

2. Create an @Action folder (the @ makes sure it goes to the top of your folder list) where you file all emails currently in your in-box that require you to do something. Keep scanning opened and unopened emails to see if you have to take any action. If so, stick them in @Action. If you’re just in decluttering mode, don’t do anything for the moment about emails which aren’t super urgent.

3. If you think you’ll use it regularly create a @Waitingfor folder where you file sent emails that are waiting for someone to get back to you. This means you don’t lose track of what’s out there and can chase up if necessary. If there’s any chance you’ll forget to look in here, give this new folder a miss. It could become another problem to make you feel even more overwhelmed.

I’m not a big fan of ‘rules’ which allows you to reroute emails. You have to check more than one in-box which seems crazy and it’s so easy to miss them. Better to reroute as part of my scan, sort and schedule approach which I’ll be blogging about next.


I help third sector staff get super organised through coaching and training, so they are really productive as they work towards organisational goals. If you’d like to talk to me about how I can help your organisation give Katie a call on 0208 772 7808 or email me for a no-obligation chat.