Trim Your Mailbox to Improve Your Productivity


The last couple days saw me experiencing frustration over a spat of poor performance from my laptop that rebooting alone failed to improve. It was puzzling because the laptop had good specifications and more-than-adequate memory. Last night, I finally came to the realization that the problem has nothing to do with the Windows operating system; and was actually related to my e-mail client.


You see, I make extensive use of e-mail. As such, the Microsoft Outlook 2007 application is always open whenever my laptop is on. Well, it seems that my e-mail client is suffering from a general slow-down that was literally affecting my overall productivity.


I recalled a similar situation, which prompted me to reduce the size of my mailbox. Lo and behold, after trimming down my e-mails by about 200MB of data, Outlook reverted to its usual speedy self. I won't be surprise if many SMBs experience slow-downs -- or other bizarre problems -- as a result of over-sized mailboxes.


Here's how you can trim your mailbox to improve your productivity.


Archive old e-mails


E-mail has become a ubiquitous tool in the corporate environment. While not infallible, its inherent traceability means that agreements or instructions communicated via e-mail are generally considered binding. As such, staffers are understandably reluctant to trash old e-mails, preferring to err on the side of caution and hoard everything. Unfortunately, this will bring the e-mail clients to their knees eventually.


To address this concern while keeping a lean mailbox, Microsoft Outlook has the ability to separate e-mails based on their timestamps. Simply access the Archive tool by selecting "Archive..." from under "File" application menu. E-mails earlier than a user-configured date will then be automatically moved into a standalone PST file that you can access separately should the need ever arises.


Eliminate large e-mails


The popularity of e-mail has the inevitable side effect that every conceivable file ranging from Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint slides, PDF files or even video and audio clips are often transmitted via this medium. As you can imagine, the amount of space taken up by such e-mails tend to balloon very quickly.


Microsoft Outlook 2007 offers a quick way to identify e-mails with large files attached. You can see such e-mails by clicking under a Search Folder titled "Large Mail" that is visible under the Mail Folders view. E-mails with nothing but irrelevant files attachments should be deleted pronto.


Delete redundant attachments


What about e-mails with attachments that are no longer relevant, but containing important discussions or instructions? Such e-mails could have been sent to you, or perhaps originate from yourself, and saved in your "Sent" folder by default.


A quick way to delete only the attachments in Outlook 2007 would be to open up the e-mail and right-click on the attachment. In the pop-up menu, and select the "Remove Attachment" option. Hit CTRL-S shortcut key to save the result, and you then the ESC key to be on your way -- minus the offending multi-megabyte file attachment.


Will the three simple steps above and some diligence, you can quickly bring about a well-kept mailbox -- and peak productivity.