Get Organized with Customized Microsoft Outlook Rules

I love the idea of organization.  But, somehow, the reality of it never quite works for me.  Until now.  My New Year’s Resolution this year is to get organized and I’m starting with my email.

Like you, I get tons of email.  Email from my boss.  Email from my wife.  Email for some service I signed up for and have just been too busy to opt out of.

To help organize all this email, I’ve set up rules in Outlook.  Rules are a like having an awesome secretary who knows when to put your calls through and when to tell the person calling that you’re at the dentist.  Really, besides using Hosted Exchange to get rid of the headaches associated with running your own mail server, Outlook rules are one of the simplest things you can do to get back to doing the things that matter.

Top 8 Rules You Can Use To Get Organized in Microsoft Outlook

  • File any email where my name is CC:d in the “My CC:’d emails” folder: Download Rule
  • File any email where I am the only recipient in the “Me, Myself and I” folder: Download Rule
  • File any email sent with high importance in the “Quick, the house is burning down” folder and flag for follow-up (just in case you missed it coming in) : Download Rule
  • File any email from my wife or husband or significant other or, oh…you get the point, in the “Love of My Life” folder : Download Rule
  • File any email with the word “Project” in the subject in the “My Projects” folder: Download Rule
  • Flag any email from my boss as high importance: Download Rule
  • Flag any email from my boss as low importance (Hey, we’ve all got different bosses, so wasn’t sure which you’d prefer!): Download Rule
  • Delay delivery of all emails except those marked as high importance by 1 minute—just in case I said something I’ll regret: Download Rule

Can’t decide which rules you want?  Download All

There are just a few steps that you need to follow to import these rules into Outlook and get them up and running (Note: These steps are designed for Outlook 2007).

1)     Click on the above rule you want to download, or download all. To specify where you want to save the file, right-click the ‘Download Rule’ link and ‘Save link as…’. Once you’ve saved the file, unzip it so that you’ll be able to import the rule into Outlook.

2)     Open Outlook, go to Tools > Rules and Alerts > Options > Import Rules.  Find the file that you downloaded and click ‘Open’, then ‘OK.’

3)     Make sure that the rule is enabled by selected the check box next to the rule (as in Step 1).

4)     Chances are you will have to modify each rule slightly to make it work for your exact situation.  For example, you probably don’t have a folder called “Me, Myself and I” already, as in the below example.  To create this folder, click on the blue text (as in Step 2), select “New” (as in Step 3), and finally, select your Inbox (as in Step 4), and name the folder “Me, Myself and I” or anything else that you’d like (maybe “Mine and only Mine” or simply “My Emails”).






Step 1


Step 2

Step 3


Step 4

5) For rules that specify to do something with an email coming from or going to a specific email address, follow the same general steps as above, except rather than creating a folder, specify the email address for your exact situation (see Steps 5 and 6 below). 


Step 5

Step 6

What rules have you created in Outlook that you can’t live without?  Let us know by submitting a comment.  Happy Organizing this New Year!

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