How to Organize the Boss’s E-mail

By | Jan 13, 2010

Often as an administrative assistant (and very frequently as an executive assistant), you’ll have the job of monitoring and organizing your boss’s e-mail. This essentially entails reading through his new mail and either replying on his behalf, delegating the e-mail to one of her direct reports, or organizing e-mail that needs a response directly from the boss.

Microsoft Outlook gives you a number of ways to organize e-mail.

  • Folders – You can create folders for various categories of mail.  These can be based on who sent the e-mail, the project the e-mail is about, the department it deals with, or any other logical pattern based on the needs of your boss.  I frequently set up folders for newsletters he receives, since those are often lower priority, and getting them out of the inbox makes it less cluttered.  Your boss may want you to set up a whole filing system for e-mails so old e-mails are easier to find.  I had one boss that I not only set up the folders for, but it was my responsibility once a month to file the old e-mails into the folder system.
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  • Color Coding – You have various ways to color code e-mail in Outlook.  You can have the e-mail preview be in a different color, you can apply different colored flags to the e-mail, or you can color code by category (in Microsoft Outlook 2007 only).  I’ve never been particularly fond of the color coding method, but for some people it works very well.  Again, you can color code based on whatever system works for your boss.
  • Categories – You can also organize e-mail by applying categories.  You can either choose from the default list of categories in Microsoft Outlook, or you can create new categories as needed.

Using Rules in Microsoft Outlook

Regardless of the method you use to organize e-mail, the use of rules can be very handy at doing some of the work for you.  For instance, I mentioned earlier that I would create a folder for each kind of newsletter my boss received.  I would set up a rule that when one of these newsletters arrived, Outlook should move it to the appropriate folder.  You can make rules for all kinds of situations and with all sorts of effects, whether it’s moving the e-mail to a folder, changing the color, or applying a category.  You can even use it to autoreply to commonly received e-mail that always get the same response.   Using rules to organize e-mail is a great time saver for both you and your boss.

Do You Mange Your Boss’s E-mail?

How do you organize your boss’s e-mail?  Do you have any tips to share to help us all out?  Just leave a comment and share your e-mail tips.  Remember, if you are reading this in e-mail or a feed reader, you’ll need to click the title and go to the website to leave a comment.


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