Almost a year ago (wow, times really fly !) I’ve shared with you an email management system I was starting to use. During this year, I’ve shared this system with as many people as possible as I think it is really excellent. I don’t see myself today not using it as it did help me being 10 times more efficient when dealing with the pile of email I receive everyday. Some close colleague were as excited as I was and made a few improvement. In this quick post, I wanted to show you how I was configured and hopefully it will encourage you to start using it !
We all know that all email don’t have the same priority. In my opinion, if you can read and answer an email in less than 30 seconds, it might be useful to treat it on the spot. However, most of them need be treated differently based on their urgency or maybe some require more thoughts from you to answer. For me, priority goes from: I need to answer this email now, today, tomorrow, this week or it can wait next week. For some it can wait even longer. That’s the first important objective of PIFEM: Organize your mailbox so you know at any time during the day which email requires your attention. You don’t have to scan through your inbox to remind your brain what you need to take care of. PIFEM does it for you. I really don’t want my brain to be used for this hence the automation.
The whole system makes use of search folders in Outlook. Every new email will fall into the To Be Checked search folder you had created previously with the following settings:
Then you need to create search folders for email you need to take care of today, tomorrow, this week, next week or later. Below are the search folders settings I’m using for each:
Whenever a new email arrive on your To be Checked search folders, decide what you want to do with it.
With PIFEM, there is no way you can forget to answer an email. That’s the beauty of it! The problem is that not everyone is using it and some people tend to forget you had asked an important question which require an answer. You can setup PIFEM to make sure you follow-up on people who are a bit disorganized.
You simply need to create 2 (or more, depending on how granular you want to be) new categories and the associated search folders.
Search folder for the answer expected this week.
Create another one for answers expected next week with the associated category.
When you write an email with some questions and really want to follow-up, go to your send items and set the appropriate category. The email will go directly to either Reply expected this week or reply expected next week. Then you can chase people for your answer !
Last advice, you can set your quick click to complete so that when you go through your email you can quickly set them to complete. You can also setup a keyboard shortcut to make it even more efficient ! (mouse is a waste of time sometime)
I’m sure this email management system can be optimized a bit more and adapted to your own need. If you have some suggestion, send them my way and I will definitely update this post.