Tip o’ the Week #29 – Filtering email to reduce the noise

clip_image002Anyone who gets lots of email will appreciate the importance of Outlook rules. Most rules run on the Exchange server, but some (like rules which move messages to a PST folder on your PC) will run client-side.

In Outlook 2010, the Rules settings are available from the File menu (or Backstage).

clip_image004Over the last few versions, Outlook has made it easier to create rules – if you right-click on an email, you can now create rules to move email sent by the orginator or mail sent to the destination (such as a Distribution List). This can help you filter out the noisier DL’s (like Ltd Social) into a sub folder so they don’t clutter up your inbox.

If it’s Not Direct to Me -> take it away for now
This tip might take a few minutes to set up – you’d be well advised to print this message out, since you might not be able to refer back to it whilst you’re editing your rules.

A great use of Rules is to filter out any email which isn’t sent directly to you, or isn’t handled by another rule to move it to a specific place. Does that sound confusiing? If so, the logic is:
If <this new email> is sent to a DL that I want to move to a specific folder, then

Move it to the folder, and stop doing anything more with it.


Move the email to the “not direct to me” folder
unless it’s sent directly to me or to a DL (in which case leave it alone, in my Inbox)

The key part here is the “Stop processing more rules” action within the Outlook rules wizard. After you’ve created the rule (through the one-click option above, perhaps), you can go back in and edit it, adding other actions or conditions. On the same part of the wizard that says to move the message to a folder, you can also stipulate that Outlook stops doing anything further with that message after it gets moved (otherwise, it could be moved to one place, then moved again to a different one).

If you arrange your rules so that each “move to a folder” type rule also stops processing any more (indicated in the rules list by the hammer/spanner icon on the right), then set the final rule in the list to be the one that dictates whether a message will stay in your inbox, or whether it gets moved to one other folder. clip_image005

This way, you can keep the most important emails coming into your inbox, and the “FYI” type DLs that aren’t noisy enough to earn their own sub-folder, will all get swept up into one place.

Happy rule tweaking!

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