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May 24, 2010
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I’m (Beth, that is) one of those people who likes to have things organized – not necessarily the papers on my desk but certainly a few other things that make the workday more streamlined. If you’re one of those people, then this tip is for you. Between subscriptions to blogs, e-blasts, newsletters, daily deals and online news, PR pros get a lot of non-client-related e-mails each day. The trick: clean up your inbox using the “Rules” function in Microsoft Outlook. It allows you to create folders for anything you want; mine include “Business Journal,” “PRSA News” and “Twitter,” so the e-mails I receive from those entities are automatically filed into those folders instead of clogging up my inbox. Brilliant!

To create a rule from an existing e-mail (one sitting in your inbox):

  • Create a folder under the “Mailbox – your name” heading in the “All Mail Folders” box on the left-hand side of the screen in Outlook. Name it something that will help you easily identify its contents.
  • Go to your inbox and find an e-mail you’d like to go into the folder you just created. For example: an e-mail from Twitter. You just need one, as Outlook will later ask if you want it to go through the rest of your inbox to sort through everything for more e-mails like this one. That way you don’t have to!
  • Right click and select “Create Rule…”
  • Under “When I get e-mail with all of the selected conditions,” choose the way in which you want Outlook to identify e-mails. My preference is for them to be sorted by the sender, but you’ll have to choose these based on the folders you’re creating and the e-mails you’re weeding out.
  • Under “Do the following,” select “Move e-mail to folder” and browse for the folder you created a few steps ago by clicking “Select folder…”
  • Once you’ve found and highlighted the folder, click “OK” in both this prompt and the previous one. Outlook will tell you the rule was successfully created, and it will give you the aforementioned option to run the rule on your inbox. Select that option and Outlook will run through your e-mails, putting all e-mails that fit those criteria into the correct folder.

Once you get everything set up, you’ll realize how cluttered your inbox was before. You will find it’s much easier to navigate and find the thing you’re looking for, whether it’s a daily update from the New York Times or an e-mail from your mom.

Abbie S. Fink
Abbie S. Fink
Vice President/General Manager Abbie has been doing public relations her whole life…from organizing a picket line in 6th grade to organizing client communications today. She’s passionate about a lot of things, you’ll see. Check out Abbie's full bio


  1. Has made my life so much easier!

  2. Paula Hall says:

    Thanks, Beth! Sounds great! I’ll give it a try!

  3. Wow! Why didn’t I think of this sooner. Thanks Beth.

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