It was a regular Thursday at work,
I was about to close my laptop to go jogging when something happened.
Something not good happened.
My manager typed me in Teams to send her the PowerPoint presentation that we were supposed to present the next day at 9 am.
At first, I thought she was kidding.
I said that I don’t know anything about PowerPoint.
Soon I realized she was not kidding.
I realized the moment she started to share her screen with the email, she had sent me earlier in the week.
Something happened, I had missed that email. And I had to sit until 3 am to finish up that presentation.
While I never understood what really had happened.
I learnt a very valuable lesson. A lesson that ensures I avoid such situations to happen again.
This lesson is called: Color coding the emails from my manager.
Thanks to colour coding the emails in my Outlook, I am able to see in a quick look if there are any emails from my manager and ensure I don’t miss any communication.
I will show you in this post how to colour code emails in Outlook – keep reading here.
How to colour code emails in Outlook
Outlook offers multiple options when to colour an email that just landed in your inbox.
My three favourite options and the ones I personally use are:
- You receive an email from your manager -> I set up the email to appear in bold red
- You are the only person in “To” in the email -> I set up the email to appear in bold yellow
- You are in “Cc” with more people in the email -> I set up the email to appear in bold green
You may think,
“Oh that would be very helpful, but how can it do it?”.
You have just arrived at the right place – keep reading below.
How to highlight emails in outlook
Imagine you want to highlight in red bold colour the emails you will receive from your manager, the manager of your manager and any other person holding a leadership position.
I will show you step by step how to do it – let’s go!
For example: imagine the emails of your managers are: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
Colour code emails from your manager in Outlook
Open your inbox and in the ribbon click on View
Once you are in the view section, click on View Settings
Click on Conditional Formatting
Click on Add:
Create one category under your desired name. In my case, I called the category Leadership.
Once your category is created click on Condition.
In the section From – include the emails that you want to include in the rule.
In my case the emails: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
Once you are ready click OK.
Click on Font and set up which colour
As in the baby shark song 🦈,
It’s the end, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo.
After successfully setting up the rule, your inbox will look like the one below:
After seeing this screenshot, this may trigger a few questions…
- How can it be there is only one email in the inbox?
- Why the reading pane of the email is not visible?
- What should I do to show the calendar on the right side of the Inbox?
Colour code emails Where I am the only person on the To line
Another interesting case would be to colour code those emails when I am the only person on the To line -> I set up the email to appear as bold yellow.
How to do it:
This is very simple, follow the same steps as shown above and in Step #4, tick on Where I am and select the option: the only person on the To line. Once selected click on OK
Colour code emails Where I am on the CC line with other people
And the last case that I find very interesting is colour code those emails when I am in the Cc line with other people -> I set up the email to appear in bold green.
How to do it:
This is very simple, follow the same steps as shown above and in Step #4, tick on Where I am and select the option: on the CC line with other people. Once selected click on OK
Why colour code emails in Outlook
Your inbox is neither your Instagram nor your WhatsApp – you should not be checking it every five minutes (and hopefully you are not doing it with your social networks either)
As shared in more detail here,
I strongly recommended you review your inbox a maximum of 2-3 times per day,
the reason for that is that reviewing constantly your inbox will sink your productivity and will make you a less effective professional.
While reviewing your inbox,
the main reason to colour code your emails is to understand in a blink of an eye which are the priority emails to start with while reviewing your inbox.
My recommendation is to set up three colour code rules in your inbox.
but three-colour code rules
As priority order:
- One rule for emails you receive from your manager and the manager of your manager
- One rule for the emails where you are only in the To line
- One rule for the emails where you are with other people in the CC line
While taking over the role,
ensure you clearly understand who your key counterparts are and you are creating your Outlook rules, ensuring you include the relevant people in the relevant rules.
And tell me do you find this content helpful – share your best practices below.