In our business, email is both a curse and a blessing. When you get up to 100+ emails a day, it is hard to stay on top of the action items that result from these emails. It is one thing to read 100+ emails; it is quite another to act on the 20-30 action items that could result from those emails.
Outlook 2003 has some great features for keeping on top of your email. The 2 features I will discuss in this post, are search folders and follow-up flags.
When you receive an email that requires you to do something, you can add a flag to that email to follow-up later. Simply click on the flag on the far right of the Inbox window. The default colour is Red, but you can set several different colours by right-clicking on the flag.
If this action is something that has a specific date or time you want to follow up, just right-click on the flag, select Add reminderâ€¦ and set the date and time.
In previous versions of Outlook, it was a little difficult to find these flagged entries. But with 2003, you have Search Folders. If you notice at the top of the Folders section on the left there is a Favorite Folders section. You can add many different search folders based on criteria you choose. The one that we will discuss here is the For Follow Up folder. Notice that there are 6 items in this folder. There is one entry for each flag that you set.
You can then use this list to work through your action items. When you have completed each one, simply click on the flag, and it will be checked off as completed.
To add more search folders, just right-click on an existing search folder and select Add search folderâ€¦ or select File from the main menu, then New, then Search folderâ€¦