Drowning in a Downpour of Emails? Organize Your Inbox in Microsoft 365

Article by Jason Clause on November 09, 2023
Jason Clause
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Are you spending hours organizing an endless barrage of emails? Microsoft 365 is packed with features to help you and a managed service provider (MSP) can bring email expertise to everyone at your business. Here’s how.

Key Takeaways:

  • With over 300 billion emails flying across the globe daily, organizing an inbox is an important part of digital hygiene
  • Microsoft 365’s folder structure, flags, and rules can help streamline the email organization process
  • Selecting proper folder naming conventions is all about understanding business needs and creating simple and intuitive labels to describe them
  • MSPs can bring extra security and best practices to an organization’s email management strategy

If people are the heart of an organization, safe and effective communication is the lifeblood. Despite the rise of workplace messenger systems like Slack and Discord, email still reigns supreme, with over 300 billion messages sent per day. This means digital professionals and company executives are sorting through hundreds or even thousands of messages daily. 

To preserve your sanity and save time, this guide will highlight every tool, tip, and trick at your fingertips to declutter that inbox. Whether the goal is a little less stress or complete Inbox Zero, an MSP can help you on your way.

Microsoft 365 customization options

Microsoft 365 provides tons of tools for the individual Outlook user, many of which go overlooked (pardon the pun). From the perspective of a single user, there are three simple tools to start with:

  • Folders: Gmail uses labels, while Outlook uses Folders. Folders are like digital shelves, where users can sort different types of content based on specific characteristics.
  • Flags: Flags are self-applied reminders, allowing users to ensure they provide a reply within a certain window of time. 
  • Rules: Rules are the most overlooked tools in the email arsenal. Sort incoming mail into folders based on simple attributes (like who the sender is, or what the subject contains).

To put this into practice, simply create a new folder for an account you receive regular emails. Name the folder after the sender, and right-click on one of the emails. Select “Create Rule” and point all messages from that sender to the corresponding folder. Easy, right? Now let’s apply that lesson to the workplace.

Professional best practices for workplace email

Workplace email organization depends on the organization, and designing a system of consistent sorting will be contingent on a few key questions:

  • Does the organization rely on critical legal documentation sent via email?
  • How high is the urgency on organizational emails?
  • Do corporate communications typically carry liability?
  • Do employees often manage a wide variety of disparate work groups?

These questions open the door to naming conventions and email rules which can help manage things like legal documentation, corporate liability, organizational structure, and high-urgency requests. The priority will be a folder to manage emails of high legal importance or timing priority. Some folder name examples:

  • Contracts
  • Legal Documents
  • Urgent

For high-priority emails, suggest that colleagues always include the words ‘high priority’ in the subject line to ensure it triggers the Microsoft 365 ruleset. At this point, it’s becoming clear that organization-wide naming conventions and standard practices are highly useful in email organization. For email organization, everyone needs to be on the same page. That’s where an MSP comes in.

Managed service provider or mail service provider?

The short answer is both. MSPs include a broader range of services than email, but they can bring significant value to corporate communication practices through the following services:

  • Phishing, fraud, and other spam filtering
  • Real-time monitoring and technical support
  • Organization-wide rules and conventions
  • Regular maintenance and updates

MSPs work with multiple customers across various industries, giving a good vantage point of best practices in email management. Identifying new and emerging cybersecurity threats, organizing internal standards, and achieving economies of scale are the primary benefits of an MSP. 

MSPs will come in with stringent security filters, based on experience across multiple industries and organizations, and it’s here that MSPs really shine. After all, data leaks are all too common in the modern corporate world and are often linked to leniency in email security practices. Prevention is the best practice here.

How to pick an MSP

Speaking of security, executive teams should start here when selecting a provider. Look for hard numbers and stats on security events and bring in your own IT team to verify best practices.

Security aside, the next most important consideration is expertise in email management systems. In most cases, this means Microsoft 365. Solid MSPs will have a series of integrations and email organization best practices to implement across the entire company. This should include measurable opportunities to improve employee efficiency, which can be demonstrated over time.

Social proof is also a useful tool, and contacting an MSPs other clients is just like calling references on a new employee. MSPs who are a bit cagey about their clientele can be safely dismissed, while MSPs who come with references and contact lists are worthy of a follow-up conversation.

Last but certainly not least will be a willingness to customize an email strategy based upon the specific needs and constraints the average employee struggles with. Managing IT infrastructure is always a custom-fit solution, as every company has unique operating procedures and requirements. Good MSPs know how to be flexible.

The path to a zero inbox

MSPs can bring in organization-level change, the best place to start is your own inbox. Remember to regularly create key folders and design rules to automatically sort all incoming email for you. This is one of the best aspects of Microsoft 365, and well worth taking advantage of.

As email strategies scale up to the organizational level, consult with the leadership team and prospective MSPs to lay out a list of needs, best practices, and potential risks. Ensure MSPs come prepared with references and a customized plan to provide measurable value. 

Tired of spending your mornings sorting through hundreds of emails? Endsight has the solution. Reach out today for a free assessment on how Endsight can handle IT, so you don’t have to.

Tags: Microsoft 365, MSPs

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