Sunday, July 7, 2013

My inbox is empty


My Outlook e-mail inbox is empty as well as all of the folders I have on Outlook.  I can honestly say that this is the first time ever that has happened.  I finally decided I had to do something about hundreds (yes, hundreds) of emails that I had let pile up.  Some of them contained information that I wanted to hang onto, some had things I needed to do, and some were just trash emails that I never deleted.  I had to come up with some sort of system because just using Outlook was not working for me.  After crying the blues on The Organized Genealogist Facebook Group Page several of the members gave me some ideas.  Here is what I came up with and I am really liking it.

I save the emails to Microsoft OneNote.  This is really easy to do because there is a button for OneNote right on the toolbar of Outlook.  I made a notebook in OneNote titled “E-Mails.”  I then made tabs for “Genealogy Reference,” “Genealogy Action Required.” “Household Reference,” and “Household Action Required.”  I will probably expand these tabs as I work with the system more.  I did have to change a setting in OneNote itself so that when I hit the save button a box comes up with all of my notebooks and tabs so that I can choose where I want it to go.   One thing that makes it nice is that I can title the email whatever I want to.  I can give it a name that makes more sense to me so I know what exactly is in the email.  You can do pretty much the same thing in Evernote if you prefer that program.

When I was going through the emails, I was able to delete quite a few that I just didn’t need anymore.  Several more were things that I could do quickly like requests to update Find A Grave memorials or transferring memorials.  After all of that, I ended up only saving a total of 32 emails!  I really feel like I did something today.  

Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis


  1. Yikes! I'd better get going :) Mine hasn't looked like this since the day I setup the program. Good job Michele.

  2. Believe me, this was a major event :)

  3. I am soooooo jealous - This is on my 'TO DO LIST' and has been for a long time with emails still coming in there are about 2000 plus what has been moved to folders within outlook. Maybe your success can motivate me to action. Congrats on Project Well Done!

  4. So far I am maintaining it. Starting with an empty box isn't near as intimidating and it gives you the motivation to just take care of things as they come in. As a matter of fact, I have handled EVERY email that has come in since I cleaned out my inbox without have to transfer anything new to OneNote :)

  5. Sounds great! Ok, now where's the screen shot of this magic OneNote file(s)?

  6. Because I am still working on the files! I want to have a few more categories so that I can just open one tab and work on all of the things that are of the same type. Maybe I will have to do an update on the blog :)

  7. Michele, what did you do about all the hundreds of thousands of archived genealogy emails that you must have saved over the years in your email program? Do you plan to just keep them in your email archives, or will you move those to OneNote, too?

  8. Over the years I have had several purge sessions so I have never been up to that many at one time. This time I started with about 300 and I was able to get them down to 32. Most of those 32 are things that I have to still do.

    I will say that back in the olden days (10 years ago and previous) I printed out every single email that I got and filed them in folders. I finally figured out that I was wasting my time and a lot of paper. Those all got purged years ago.

    Since I wrote this blog post, I have managed to clean out 3 of the emails that I had transferred over to OneNote. Slowly but surely! Right now I have 5 emails in my inbox but these are all tasks that I will be doing in in the next couple of days so I will leave them there.

  9. Oh Michele. I need to do this so badly. I have a personal email, a junk & vendor email and a genealogy email. The first two generally have about 10-12 items in the I box at any given time. I purge them regularly. But.....then there is my genealogy email with over 300 items in the inbox.
    I just began using Evernote and I love it. However, since OneNote is included on my PC, maybe that would be a good use for that program? Keep Evernote for every thing else and OneNote for the emails.
    Again, thanks for the inspiration.