Handling Your Email Overload: Utilizing Rules and Folders to Keep You Organized

As a blogger, I literally can receive anywhere from 300 to over 700 emails per day. These emails come from other bloggers, requests from companies, guest bloggers, the boys’ schools, the volunteer committee that I serve on, and a myriad of other places. If I allowed it to – email would run my life. Instead, I have come up with a system that works for me. It keeps me organized, keeps me on top of deadlines, and I know what needs to be done and when. A blogging friend of mine asked me about my system, so I decided to share with everyone. I figure if two bitchin’ bloggers like ourselves needed the help – there must be more out there suffering in silence!

Handling Your Email Overload from Life in a House of Testosterone

How Do You Work Best?

One of the most important things to think about before you even begin this simple task is – how do you work best? Are you a visual person, who wants to see everything that is due right in front of them or are you the type that calendars all appointments immediately or adds an item to your task list immediately? Deciding how you work best will help you with how you want to set up your folders.

What Email Program Do You Use?

Another item you will want to think about beforehand is what email system do you use? Are you strictly a web-based email blogger (meaning you get online to access your emails via your browser) or do you use a desktop email program?

I have not used Gmail since they changed their format awhile back. I just didn’t like it. I’ve always liked using Outlook because I’ve had an email address (MSN, then Hotmail, then Live) since I’ve been online with Microsoft. My Outlook.com on the web also syncs with my Outlook app on my iPhone, with the app on my Android tablet, and with Outlook 2013 on my desktop. So I literally can find an email, anywhere, anytime that I need to. It works for me and it is the one email system that I keep coming back to. For purposes of this post, we are using the Outlook.com web-based interface.

There are three steps to this process. You will need to:

  • Determine the Main folder categories you want
  • Set up your sub-folders as you need them
  • Set up your email rules

The Blogger’s Folder List

As bloggers, we have requests coming in for reviews, sponsored posts, guest posts, paid opportunities from the networks we belong to, twitter parties, Google+ Hangouts to attend, giveaways to prepare for, posts to plan out – you get the idea. It is enough to make your head spin at times! The best way to manage it all – is to sort it into folders. But how do I set up folders? How do I make them? I’m going to show you!

I have a folder that I set up in Outlook called “KIM FOLDERS” simply because I wanted all of my folders to be in one central location and not interspersed throughout the Outlook folders that are already there.

You then need to choose what sections you want – what are the most important things you need to address via email each day? I have my main folders in four sections:

  • ASAP
  • CAMPAIGNS
  • FACEBOOK GROUPS
  • YAHOO GROUPS

The Important Folder

My ASAP folder has all of my sub folders that pertain to items I need to deal with daily. Those sub folders are actually broken down into additional sub folders as needed. Here is my list from my ASAP folder:

The ASAP Folder - What You Need to Handle Daily - Life in a House of Testosterone
  • Action (for items that need my immediate attention when I get a moment)
  • Boosters (volunteer organization I work as communications officer for)
  • Business
    • Affiliates (all emails from my affiliates with new promotions)
    • Fat Joe (a company I deal with regularly)
    • Google Alerts (my daily or weekly alerts that I have set up)
    • IZEA (keep track of all accepted bids and publish dates)
    • Liah Newsletters
    • Mad Mimi (list of all my newsletter signups)
    • Pamela (emails between my webmistress and I)
    • PayPal (everyday expenses go in the main PayPal folder)
      • Business (all business expenses – hosting fees, giveaway fees, etc. in here)
  • Family (emails for the family – from the school, businesses, etc.)
    • John Mail
    • Jonathan
    • Tre
  • Later  (stuff that I want to read … but later)
  • Miscellaneous (the dumping ground)
  • Recipes (I love checking out new recipes so the services I’m subscribed to go here)
  • Save (important documents that we need to keep – receipts, confirmations, etc.)

Don’t freak out on me yet! It really is not as complicated as you are thinking!  Once you become accustomed to working with the folders system, you’ll be wondering how you ever lived without it!

The Campaign/Work Folder

Next up is what I call my campaign/work folder. Here is where I put anything that I am working on that has a deadline or specific requirements, including giveaways, sponsored posts, guest posts, reviews, etc. This is going to be specific to what you are working on. I use dates in my deadline-specific work folders simply as another visual reminder that if today is the 6th, then I have a project due today and three more due this weekend.

This is what my current campaign folder looks like:

The Campaign Folder - Keeping Your Projects and Deadlines Organized - Life in a House of Testosterone

Remember this particular folder is going to be specific to your needs, your projects, and your deadlines. You can set it up in any manner that you choose to – whichever works best for you.

Facebook, Google, Yahoo Groups

I also have a main folder set up for Facebook Groups and Yahoo Groups. I tried, originally, to just let everything come flying in to my inbox and dealing with it/reading it as it came in. That does not work so well when you belong to a group that can generate up to 120 responses or more each day. I also have a folder for the Google Groups that I belong to that I want to receive all posts from.

Since I would rather have the messages come directly to my inbox so that I can go through and read the posts when I have the time (and so I don’t miss anything), all of my Facebook groups notifications are set to “all posts” and I have each of those groups messages filtered into their own sub-folder.

mail folder 4

 The reason I love having my groups set up like this is so that when I am out walking the dog, or in the kitchen cooking dinner, I can pull up my email on my phone and check out what has been going on in the group that day. I can respond via email, and I can delete messages that don’t interest or pertain to me, and flag those that I want to follow up on.

Setting up Your Rules

Having you sit there and sort all of your mail into these various different folders would be absolutely crazy – so let your computer do the work for you! I love setting up rules in my email program. When a message comes in, I tell it exactly which folder to put the email in, and the little notification numbers pop up to tell me how many unread messages I have in each folder.

This is a sample of the rules that I have set up for my incoming email:

Capture2

You can set up your rules by recipient or by subject. Personally I prefer the recipient method (especially for Facebook groups) because the recipient is actually the Facebook Group email address. So yes people – if you have the email address for your group – you do NOT have to go to Facebook to send your message. Just send it via email. Be sure you are following the groups rules though – if all posts are to be put in the appropriate thread – then you need to follow the rules and submit it to that thread. You need to find the correct thread message and reply to that message in order for it to go to the threaded message feed.

Outlook.com gives you a really good guide on how to set up your email rules for your incoming email messages. You can find the article here if you have had trouble understanding how to set up an email rule.

Making Your Email Work for You

Now that you have seen how I have set my folders and rules up, it’s time to get started with your own! I’ve provided you with a link to show you how to set up your rules. Now I’m going to show you how to create your folders. It’s very simple!

So grab your list that you’ve made of what you want your folders to be, we are going to go to Outlook.com and show you how to set up your folders.

Once you’ve logged in, you will see your folders on the left and your email messages to the right. You can either right click on the Folders at the top of your screen and select Add a new folder or scroll down and select the New Folder option at the bottom of your list. I named my folder Emails for purposes of this example.

Image5

Now that you have your first folder created – you can build from there. You can either right click on the folder you just made and choose New subfolder, or you can scroll to the bottom and click on New Folder again to create another one.

Image6

Once you have created all of your folders, make sure that you have them in the correct main folders where you want them. If one is out of place, you can easily hold your mouse down on the folder and drag it to where you want it to be.

Next move on to your rules. The easiest way to create a rule is to open the message you want to create a rule for. So if you are looking at a list of all your emails, click the email that you wish to create a rule for, once it opens click the three dots to the right at the end of the menu bar and select create rule.

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You’re rules information will open as an overlay to the email and look like this:

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This particular email was coming from my Facebook feed – you know, comments friends have left on posts on your wall, or additional comments from a post that you commented on. These all get routed to my Facebook folder for me to check out when I have the time. So I would leave the selection as “Sender contains” and then go over to where it says “Do the following” and then select “Move to” and choose the folder I wanted those emails to be sent to. Click on create rule and you’re done!

Now wasn’t that simple?

As you get used to working with the system and creating rules – it will become second nature to you. I hope that you find this tutorial helpful and as always – should you have any questions at all just let me know below and I’ll do my best to walk you through the issue and help you out! Let me know if this is useful for you!

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