Scott Hanselman

The Three Most Important Outlook Rules for Processing Mail

December 10, '09 Comments [35] Posted in Personal | Remote Work | Tools
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I'm always looking for new ways to process email more effectively. I talked a little about this at a recent conference in Sweden. The topic of my talk was Information Overload and Managing the Flow: Effectiveness and Efficiency and there's video of the talk at the link there.

I've done blog posts on how my Outlook folders are setup in Getting Organized While Drinking from the (Outlook) Fire Hose and Personal Systems of Organization.

However, lately as the flow of email increases, I've added three new rules in Outlook that have really made things easier for me.

The idea is this. Stuff shows up in your Inbox and you need to process it, right? Not necessarily do it, but decide what to do with it. However all email that shows up in your inbox isn't the same. I segment them like this:

  • Most Important: Email that is sent directly to me. I am on the to: line.
  • Kind of Important: Email where I am cc:ed. I was copied on a mail, likely as an FYI to me.
  • External Mail: Mail that was sent to me from outside my company.
  • Meeting Invites: Just that. Someone wants me to show up somewhere.

So I've got these "inboxes" in Outlook now and I put them in my favorites so they show up at the top of the folder list. These are the emails I'm currently processing that came in overnight.

Inbox, Inbox-CC. Inbox-External, Inbox-Invites

Here are the Outlook Rules to make this happen. The main Inbox folder is the main Inbox. The others are just folders named "Inbox - Something."

Processing Meeting Invites

First rule is to move any meeting invitations to a separate folder. This is an easy rule. Just make sure the "and stop processing more rules" appears at the bottom and that this rule is close the top (if not at the top.)

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Processing External Mail with an Outlook Rule

This one is a little tricky, so be careful. There's no good "comes from outside my company" rule built into Outlook, so you can make one like this.

"Apply this rule after the message arrives
where my name is in the To or Cc box
  and with @ in the sender's address
move it to the Inbox - External folder
except with "yourcompany.com" in the sender's address
stop processing more rules."

Tricky and composite, but works nicely. Now all emails that are from OUTSIDE go into a single folder. Of course if you are a member of external mailing lists, etc, you might want exclusions here, or more likely a separate Outlook rule for that mailing list that is higher in the list of rules. Remember, rule order matters.

image

Processing Mail To: me, rather than mail Cc: to me

Here I just say "if my name is not in the To box" then send the mail to the Inbox-CC folder. However, I have some exceptions for email from certain people whose email goes to my Inbox always, regardless.

Rules and Alerts (6) 

Last one (a fourth possible rule, yeah, I know) and this one is optional. If I get an answer to a mail that's from a mailing list, I like it to come to my Inbox, not show up in a folder deep in Outlook somewhere.

Now you just have a rule for mail that is sent directly to you. You have to say "move it to the inbox" and "stop processing." This will also bring mail up from your internal mailing lists folders if you've been addressed directly.

Rules and Alerts (3)

There you go, that's my four inboxes with three (or four) Outlook rules.

Inbox, Inbox-CC. Inbox-External, Inbox-Invites

Time to get back to "Inbox Zero" by processing emails sent directly to me first!

Important Notes:

  • The order of Rules in Outlook matters for this system, as does the final "stop processing other rules" step. Without that, you may get duplicate emails.
  • If you're using a mobile phone (iPhone or Windows Mobile) make sure that you've set your phone to Sync Mail from these new folders, otherwise you might miss a meeting invite that never went through your inbox.

Hope someone finds this useful. I have.

Related Links

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Hanselminutes Podcast 191: Solver Foundation and Optimization with Nathan Brixius

December 10, '09 Comments [0] Posted in Podcast
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imageMy one-hundred-and-ninety-first podcast is up. Scott's on campus and talks to Nathan Brixius, a Senior Developer working on the Microsoft Solver Foundation library. Solver Foundation helps break down complex multi-variable problems in a clean, declarative way.

Subscribe: Subscribe to Hanselminutes Subscribe to my Podcast in iTunes

Download: MP3 Full Show

Links from the Show

Do also remember the complete archives are always up and they have PDF Transcripts, a little known feature that show up a few weeks after each show.

Telerik is our sponsor for this show.

Check out their UI Suite of controls for ASP.NET. It's very hardcore stuff. One of the things I appreciate aboutTelerik is their commitment tocompleteness. For example, they have a page about their Right-to-Left support while some vendors have zero support, or don't bother testing. They also are committed to XHTML compliance and publish their roadmap. It's nice when your controls vendor is very transparent.

As I've said before this show comes to you with the audio expertise and stewardship of Carl Franklin. The name comes from Travis Illig, but the goal of the show is simple. Avoid wasting the listener's time. (and make the commute less boring)

Enjoy. Who knows what'll happen in the next show?

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Hanselminutes Podcast 190: The State of Powershell with Lee Holmes and Jason Shirk

December 10, '09 Comments [1] Posted in Podcast | PowerShell
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powershell My one-hundred-and-ninetieth podcast is up. Scott's in Redmond this week and he sits down with Lee Holmes and Jason Shirk from the Powershell team. What's the state of Powershell now that it's built into Windows. What does 2.0 buy me and what features could I exploit more effectively?

Subscribe: Subscribe to Hanselminutes Subscribe to my Podcast in iTunes

Download: MP3 Full Show

Do also remember the complete archives are always up and they have PDF Transcripts, a little known feature that show up a few weeks after each show.

Telerik is our sponsor for this show.

Check out their UI Suite of controls for ASP.NET. It's very hardcore stuff. One of the things I appreciate aboutTelerik is their commitment tocompleteness. For example, they have a page about their Right-to-Left support while some vendors have zero support, or don't bother testing. They also are committed to XHTML compliance and publish their roadmap. It's nice when your controls vendor is very transparent.

As I've said before this show comes to you with the audio expertise and stewardship of Carl Franklin. The name comes from Travis Illig, but the goal of the show is simple. Avoid wasting the listener's time. (and make the commute less boring)

Enjoy. Who knows what'll happen in the next show?

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Fun with Channel 9 Videos - Live at PDC and Live to Tape

December 7, '09 Comments [4] Posted in PDC | Screencasts | Speaking
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image One of the things I was lucky to do at PDC 09 a few weeks ago was host a "talk show." The folks at Channel 9 hooked up some amazing equipment and a great team and had basically 8 solid hours of live television streaming (over Silverlight and IIS Smooth Streaming) every day using the Professional Developer's Conference.

I had an hour or so each day over the three day conference, usually around the lunch hour. Some guests were fun, some were more challenging, but I tell you - after having done stand-up (and kind of failed), doing code demos and powerpoint for years, hosting panels and roundtables, I think I'm supposed to be hosting my own talk show. ;) If I had more creative control (and wasn't working for The Man) I'd love to take on Craig Ferguson or Jimmy Fallon. What a blast!

Anyway, Nic and the team at Channel 9 are busy transcoding and chopping out many hours of videos and putting them up on Channel 9 under the "ch9live" tag.

Two of my segments are up so far, but there's a dozen segments with lots of great hosts like Charles Torre and Robert Hess. One day they'll let me near Ozzie, but this time I got to sit down with Bob Muglia and the deeply awesome Mike Anguilo. Mike is the GM dude that designed the laptop that all the PDC attendees took him. Even though I was nice to him, he didn't give me a laptop. Sigh.

Here's some video. I'll post more as it comes up, and be sure to check out the whole set as more are going up each day. Here's the complete Live on Channel 9 schedule.

Scott talks to Mike Anguilo about the PDC Laptop

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Channel 9 Live at PDC09: Bob Muglia and the Cloud

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I hope you enjoy watching them as much as I had doing them. More to come soon! Maybe they'll let me be more wacky at Mix 2010!

Oh, other thing, last week Jon Galloway and I were up in Redmond for his New Employee Orientation (NEO) last week and we stopped by (crashed, really) "This Week on Channel 9."

TWC9: Scott Hanselman, Jon Galloway, Bing, parallel unit tests, more

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This week on Channel 9, we're joined by Scott Hanselman and Jon Galloway to discuss the week's top developer news, including:

On the live side of things, Here's the other great segments from Channel 9 Live @ PDC as of the time of this post:

Enjoy!

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Get those pixels working for you

December 3, '09 Comments [56] Posted in Reviews | Tools
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Lots of MonitorsI just can't say enough about multiple monitors. I've had two monitors since 2003 and three since later that same year and have been hooked ever since.

If you're working on a computer I'm convinced you need to fill your field of vision with the work at hand. Working on something important on a 15" monitor is like viewing an eclipse through a pinhole projector. I prefer to stare directly at the sun*!

I was over at Brad Wilson's house yesterday and he mentioned he was going to buy a new 27" computer and needed to get rid of his Dell 30" (3007WFP-HC). Since I freaking LOVE Dell Monitors, I jumped at the chance (after calling my wife and asking her permission) to give myself a Christmas Gift and promptly drove away with a new 30" monitor for $700.

That's insane, you say! That's too much for a monitor! I say, nay nay. Even if it lasts only a year - and it will likely last much longer - that's $2 a day for pure joy and a nice tax deduction.

This brings my collection of Dell Monitors to 4 and my collection of screens to 5. Here's the lay of the land today. I even threw the 7" iMo Mimo Pivot in there for fun.

Screen Resolution

So that's 7130 wide, and roughly 1600 tall in most places. The machine is still running the same two (now obsolete) $75 video cards as when we built the "Coding Horror Ultimate Developer Rig" a few years back.

I'm running just TWO NVidia GeForce 8600 GTS with 256megs each. They are VERY modest cards, in my opinion, but the work nicely and I still have a WEI of 6.4 for Graphics even on this two year old machine.Performance Information and Tools

All you need to run multiple monitors is, ahem, multiple monitors, and a video card (or two) that has more than one connector. I have two cards that each have two DVI connectors. You can use two cards that each have one connector but you'll soon run out of slots on your PC.

If you don't have an extra monitor, maybe you have an extra laptop? You can use your laptop as an extra monitor with MaxiVista.

Get those pixels working for you! Go get another monitor!

 * I'm kidding. Seriously, what's wrong with you? ;)

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.