How to Organize Your Messages in Outlook

When you are reading a message and you realize that you need to deal with it later, what do you typically do? What do you do to organize your messages?

How often do you find yourself marking emails as “unread” as the primary reminder you must deal with it later only to find out that it is now lost in your inbox?

Most email clients let you flag, pin, mark, categorize, and tag messages.  Outlook has a very simple two click answer when reading messages that everyone using outlook can take advantage of.  Best of all, it synchronizes with your Office 365 account and across your devices.  This will not only help you organize your communication, but your day to day tasks as well.  It’s called your task list and here is how you use it, but wait, there’s more.

Let’s explore the Office 365 ecosystem and see how to most effectively deal with email action items and tasks in general.

Wouldn’t it be easier if everything filtered into a single location?

Tasks lists are a universal means to manage your activity and plan your day.  They are also very different than a calendar.  The task is the action, the schedule is when it is due or happening.  This will help you get started in the process of reorganizing your activities so you can use your time more efficiently.

Whether you are using or Outlook on your workstation the process is generally the same.

1. Hover your mouse over the message and look for the flag over the time on the right side of the message (not the pin, more on that later).

2. Click the flag and your message will turn yellow (on or red (on outlook on your workstation). view

Outlook on your workstation view

Now that you have flagged your message, what happens next.

You have successfully instructed both and Outlook to see the message as something you want to work on later but managing these on and Outlook differ slightly.

Organize Your Messages in Outlook on Your Workstation

For those of who want to maintain a very similar experience where you have an “inbox” that shows you all your actionable email messages this will be a good transitionary tool, or the one you decide to keep.

1. Scroll to the bottom of your inbox and RIGHT CLICK “Search Folders” then click “New Search Folder…”

2. In the top section select “Mail either unread or flagged for follow up”, verify your “Search mail in” drop down and click “OK”.

3. Finally, expand “Search Folders” and drag the new folder you created “Unread or For Follow Up” to your Favorites.

If you don’t have a “Favorites” at the top of your Outlook Folder Pane:

a. Expand top ribbon and click view.

b. Click “Folder Pane” then Check “Favorites”.

Then repeat step 3.

Taking this one more step, go to your Tasks and start exploring all of the items you need to do.

Organize Your Messages in or

You must use a filter to only see the flagged items.  Albeit not as smooth as outlook, it accomplishes a very similar need however it doesn’t show you unread as well so I would recommend using tasks, but do initiate the filter do the following.

Click Filter then Flagged.

Tasks are a bit easier to manage, BUT they don’t show you unread messages.

Take some time and explore the options online.  They will feed your workstation Outlook along with your mobile apps.

1. Navigate to tasks.

Click on Flagged email.

Explore some of the other features for these items.  It is time well spent.

I would also recommend switching between Outlook and or to see how they communicate with each other.  There is quite a bit of overlap but keeping things simple will help make your life better.

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