Another Good-Looking Email Management Methodology

Merlin Mann of 43 Folders fame has posted an article on email management in MacWorld that could easily apply to Outlook users.  His method, based on David Allen’s Getting Things Done Methodology, helps the user quickly evaluate email messages and convert them to action.  He writes:

“Start by stripping your e-mail directory structure down to seven basic folders, each defined by the action that its messages require.”

Email_mgmt_method_2ClearContext makes this easy to implement in Outlook and extends the concept with topic management and automated filing.  Create a ClearContext Topic for each of the folders Merlin defines (Respond, Action, Hold, Waiting, and Archive).  As you evaluate a new message, assign the appropriate topic, which will appear next to the message in the inbox.  You could either leave the message in the inbox  and easily scan all of your open items or make use of our filing buttons (File Message, File Thread, or File Topic) to automatically file the message into the associated ClearContext Topic Folder.  As future messages in the email conversation arrive, ClearContext will automatically tag them with the associated topic, reducing the need to re-evaluate the appropriate action to take on the email.  As an added bonus, if you’re using ClearContext color-coded views, we’ll prioritize your incoming messages so that you can evaluate your most important email from your most important senders first.

In the future, we will be implementing functionality that will allow the automatic creation of calendar and task items from email, taking this concept to the next level.  See our product plan for more detail.


  1. I was actually going to write a post tonight about how to implement the GTD methodology using ClearContext but I won’t have to now. With your special topics it is really handy if you prefix them with @ so they sort at the top of the topic list. The calendar and task functionality sounds very nice… Looking forward to it.

  2. […] Clear Context is an add-on for Outlook for busy people. The goal is to help empty your inbox while allowing you to access and retrieve messages, tasks, and calendar items easily. I am a “getting things done” proponent, and Clear Context is very helpful at keeping things out of my line of sight until they need to be there. See more on that topic on the Clear Context blog. […]