Achieving Inbox Zero With Rules in Microsoft Outlook

By February 8, 2015 Uncategorized No Comments

Months back I spent almost an entire weekend hacking my Outlook email inbox to auto-archive itself. My reason for doing this is because I would constantly hear the wonders and benefits of maintaining “inbox zero,” but I could never seem to achieve it on a daily basis. To me, having to manually file every email after I had read or responded to it was an annoying task and interruptive to my email workflow during a busy day. Once I figured out how Outlook Rules worked I set up an if this then that type of automated system using Rules, where after I had read an email I could hit a shortkey and it would be auto-filed into a designated folder.

This first requires categorizing your contacts into groups and then using Rules to associate groups with folders. For example, when someone I had categorized in my contacts as “Marketing Team” emailed me it would come into my inbox and, after I had read it or responded to it, I would hit ALT+A and the email would automatically be pulled from my inbox and filed in the “Marketing Team” folder. The Rules setup to achieve this looks something like:


  1. Sender is in Group Category “Marketing Team”
  2. Message is Marked as Read


  1. Move email to “Marketing Team” folder

I did leave the corporate world a few weeks back to start my own consultancy and since then have moved from Outlook to Gmail to manage my inbox, however I wanted to share the Prezi I created below to help other Outlook users understand the Rules technique. If you take the upfront time to categorize your contacts and set up Rules, you will find yourself with an email system that is automatically organized to fit your needs, easy to search and much easier to manage.

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