Focus your inbox

Posted by Dermot Crowley on 12th February 2018

Most of us don’t like change, me included.  Anything that turns my comfortable world upside down is always unsettling. Especially when the change affects one of my favourite productivity tools – Microsoft Outlook.

Anyone using Office 365 in their workplace will no doubt be used to regular updates from Microsoft.  Most changes are tweaks that make Office run better, but every now and again there is a change that you really notice. One such change happened for me over the Christmas break.

When I came back from my summer holiday, a feature I had grown fond of to manage my email noise, ‘Clutter’, had been replaced with something called the ‘Focused Inbox’. Aggh! I liked the clutter feature and now it was gone. Not happy!

Focus your inbox Dermot Crowley

I sulked for a few days, which included trying to work out how to get the clutter feature working again. I could see the folder, but alas, it just wouldn’t work the way it used to. So, in true sulking style, I turned off ‘Focused Inbox’ and just let my email noise build up in the inbox. I did not need a focused inbox! I could handle the noise myself.

Well it turned out I couldn’t handle the noise. After a week it was killing me. So I finally put my pride back in its box, and turned on the focused Inbox (Click on the ‘View’ tab and press ‘Show Focused Inbox’). You know what – it is pretty darn clever. Cleverer than clutter! Now I have one view that shows me emails that are to me, from real people, and one view that hides all my newsletters, automated emails and things sent by robots for robots. Once a day I go to this tab, skim through the contents and usually delete the lot. This makes managing what’s in my focused Inbox view so much easier. I love it.

The one tweak I was forced to make for this work with my inbox zero mindset was to start using the Outlook app on my iPhone, as it also uses the focused inbox concept. If I viewed my emails in the native email app on the phone I would just see everything in one big pile. But that turned out to be a good move too, as there are a few cool features for mobile email that I am liking.

So, change seems like a bad thing, until you open up to it, and then it’s often a good thing. Who knew!

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