As a member of the Alabama State Bar, I receive all of the broadcast email messages that you, our members, do. While we try very hard not to send too many – fearing the end result that no one will read them – it seems like lately, with the advent of the Annual Meeting and the end of the window for IOLTA Certification, there have been quite a few. This morning’s offering was the announcement that the 2014 Section Application is now available so that you can re-up with your favorite section or join new ones.
If you feel like you’re drowning in email – and if you’re using Outlook as your email client – with just a little time and effort you can create a set of rules that will allow you to funnel important messages into your inbox, siphon the distractions away, and generally take control of your email instead of having it control you. The sidebar on filtering with rules from my most recent Simple Steps column in Law Practice magazine is below, or you can click through to read the entire column on how Zero Inbox can help you better manage your email and your practice.
Filtering Messages in Outlook Using Rules
Outlook 2010 makes it very easy to set up rules to filter messages before they even reach your inbox, or to quickly file them away once they do.
To easily add someone’s messages to your Junk folder (you can always change your mind later), in Outlook 2003, 2007 and 2010, right-click on a message from the person and select Junk Email | Add to Blocked Senders List or Block Sender. The message in question, and all future messages from that address, will automatically be moved to the Junk E-mail folder, where they’ll stay until you either decide one or more of them are important and refile them, or delete them. If you change your mind, you can select the item and then click the Mark as Not Junk button, although it may take a few times before Outlook catches on.
Outlook Rules let you create customized filters to separate and file incoming mail based on an almost limitless variety of criteria. You can create rules to filter messages based on who they are to (just you, or groups or mailing lists), who they are from, and words in the subject or body of the message.
To create a rule within Outlook 2003 or 2007, click on Tools | Rules and Alerts, and the Rules and Alerts dialog box will open. Select New Rule, and you’ll get a Rules Wizard that will walk you through the process. Outlook 2010 has a Rules icon on the ribbon, under the Home tab, in the Move group. From this icon, you can create new rules, or choose a default option to always move messages from that person to a location of your choice.