This tip is written for Microsoft Outlook users. If you use an email package other than MS Outlook, look for a similar feature in your system by reviewing the user manual or help file. Check under “follow up,” “flag,” and “reminders,” for starters. If you are a typical email user, chances are your inbox includes a few messages you’ve read but not deleted, intending to take action on them at a later date. Those messages not only occupy space in your inbox, they also occupy some part of your mind each time you look at them. “Flagging” a message programs your computer to remind you that these messages are waiting for you, but allows you to clear your inbox and your mind.
When you flag a message for follow up, you can rest easy. I find it helps me maximize my time, and prevents me from worrying about remembering all those emails I need to act on soon, but not now. Here’s how to flag your messages to improve organization and gain peace of mind:Select the message or contact you want to flag. Right-click and select “Flag for Follow Up.” (Or use the Actions menu, selecting Flag for Follow Up.) In the “Flag to” box, click the type of flag you want – you have ten choices! (The only ones I use are “call,” “follow up,” and “reply.”) Enter a date and time in the “Due by” box. You can set it for a few minutes, an hour or several months into the future.
A small red icon, shaped like a flag, appears to the left of the sender’s name on each flagged message. You can leave flagged emails in your inbox, of course, but I prefer to file mine in a folder I call – creatively enough – “Follow Up.” That allows me to look only at the truly NEW emails in my inbox. A text box will remind you to follow up at the set time, or as soon as you turn on your computer after the designated time. Still not ready to act on the email? Simply reset the time to notify you again in 5 minutes, or a week – or any time in between. To reset or delete the flag at any time, just right-click on the flagged message and select “clear flag.” (Yes, if you want to reset a flag, you have to start the process all over.)