A common employee complaint is the time it takes to access and read email. Once a user types his or her password in twice because the Caps lock is on when it should be off, has a remote desktop connection, waits for the network profile to synchronize, waits for the desktop to initialize, loads Outlook, and waits for Outlook to connect and synchronize, the hundreds of spam messages, fifty emails from Human Resources, dozens of stupid jokes from colleagues, tens of forwarded attachments from committees and work teams they are vaguely connected to, and the one or two emails from me hardly seem worth the effort.
A common management response to this common complaint is “You can connect to the server from your home computer.” We aren’t going to pay you extra to read email in the workplace. You’re just going to have to work faster or read email at home. We can’t be bothered teaching you technology that makes you more efficient. We’re too busy reading our own email, anyway.
This amounts to time theft and more: at $25 an hour if you spend an hour of your own time dealing with email every day, that’s a $2.78 an hour pay cut.
The solution: Email rules!
An email “rule” is a set of conditions that sort your inbox when messages arrive. Rules can move messages to specific folders, for example, which is handy when you’re firebombed with stuff you don’t need to read immediately or vice-versa.
This page has excellent instructions on how to make an Outlook rule from messages already in your inbox (or any folder). It’s easy:
- Right click on a message and select Create Rule from the context menu;
- Check conditions in the dialogue box (When I get e-mail... and Do the following...).
Be sure to create your destination folders first. Under the Advanced or Tools menu you can filter messages with attachments, messages that are Cc’d to you, or print selectively.
If your lab doesn’t use Outlook, chances are you can still create rules to sort incoming mail. It beats reading email at home.
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