Take Control of Email in Outlook Using Priority and Do Not Disturb


Although few will argue that email is an invaluable tool for most organizations, more and more studies show that too much email can cause serious productivity issues for its employees. For instance, remember that document you were assigned to write, but it took three times longer than you expected because each time you focused on it, a new email would arrive in your inbox. Rather than ignore it, you felt compelled to respond. And ten minutes are gone.

For me, this happens every five minutes at my desk (which is why this article took three hours to write), and I wouldn’t be surprised if 99% of you out there have a similar story. That’s why I was excited when Microsoft released a new Outlook 2007 Plug-in called Email Prioritizer.

Microsoft Outlook Email Prioritizer is a download from Microsoft’s new OfficeLabs <at least it was when I wrote this article>.

In their words:

Tired of email overload? Email Prioritizer is designed to help you manage email overload with a “do not disturb” feature and email ranking. Works with Outlook 2007 running on Exchange server.


  • Do Not Disturb Button – Stop receiving email for a specified period
  • Email Priorities – Email has a priority assigned based on out-of-the-box rules to help find relevant emails

The installation was fast and easy:

How-To organize your inbox with new Email Prioritizer Add-in for Microsoft Outlook ::

The first time you Launch Outlook after installing the new Add-On, be prepared to wait a few minutes while it scans through your email and assigns the various priorities.

How-To organize your inbox with new Email Prioritizer Add-in for Microsoft Outlook ::

Once Outlook opens after the install, you will notice a new toolbar at the top of your Microsoft Outlook 2007 Client. The settings are pretty straightforward.  You can configure the “Do Not Disturb” setting in 30-minute intervals up to four hours or until the meeting you’re currently in concludes (as scheduled in your Outlook Calendar.)

Microsoft Email Prioritizer Configuration ::

Additionally, you can also configure how your Inbox displays emails based on the Priorities assigned to the emails from the toolbar.

You can either accept the default “Priority Rules” or customize them to your preferences by clicking the Options button in the New Email Prioritizer Toolbar.

Microsoft Email Prioritizer ::

Once here, it’s pretty straightforward.  Adjust the settings and click OK to save.

Microsoft Email Prioritizer Configuration ::

I’ve been using the Plug-In at work for a few days now.  So far, so good.  I use a different method for prioritizing my inbox but, the “Do Not Disturb” feature has already had a very positive impact on my Email Reading/DeskTime habits.

8/25/08 Update

This morning I was prompted by an Auto-Update Tool to upgrade the Microsoft Email Prioritizer from V1.0.818.0 to 1.0.820.0.  The notes mention the update is for users who do not have  connections to Exchange Servers:

Microsoft Office Labs Auto Update Screenshot ::



  1. t1000

    August 21, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    awesome! Worked like a charm. Thanks for the heads up.

  2. Nate

    August 21, 2008 at 10:20 pm

    Awesome tip MrGroove. Thanks for the great info. 1st time reader here and I love the site! Plz keep it coming!

    Would love to see more on Vista also!

  3. tomb

    August 22, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    Great pointer! Thanks groovy dude. installed it at work and been using it all day! I agree with your last point, the priority doesnt really work for me but the “DO NOT DISTURB” feature is really cool. When the 60 minute timer was up, over 30 emails popped into my inbox!!! That’s 60 distractions when I avoided!

    Thanks again! Love it!

  4. rmoore

    August 25, 2008 at 10:59 am

    not bad. I tried it out and immediately had to upgrade it. I will probably use it but the priority is worthless.

  5. JR

    August 25, 2008 at 11:41 am

    Received update today… and although I AM connected to an exchange server, I don’t have the “Edit Priority Rules…” as a menu option.

  6. MrGroove

    August 25, 2008 at 2:12 pm

    @JR – No Options button on the toolbar? Are you running Microsoft Outlook 2007 or 2003?

  7. JR

    August 25, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    Outlook 2007 with MS Exchange; Win XP pro OS

  8. rmoore

    August 28, 2008 at 6:59 pm

    @JR – Are you saying you have the “Do Not Disturb” button on the toolbar but don’t have the “Options” button? That’s the only place you will find the options to edit the Priority Rules.

    I tried to play around with the Toolbar and what I found is being a beta product, you don’t have the ability add the buttons back in from the “Tools – Customize” Menus. The “Do Not Disturb” and “Options” are not in the list of commands to add into the toolbars.

    So, my next piece of advice is uninstall and re-install. I did this after I lost the Email Prioritize Options button and when reinstalled it was back.

  9. BacarliW

    February 4, 2009 at 2:07 am

    interesting. i guess sometimes you don’t want to be bothered. my plugin of choice is Outlook Track-It because i need reminders of when to follow up to an email. this downloads a small toolbar to help with that. pretty good one!

  10. Sam

    May 6, 2009 at 9:34 am

    I use Outlook Track-It as well. I am a big Outlook 2007 user with tons of email. I’m glad there’s an add-on where you can flag emails for reply reminders. Greatest plugin Yet. A+!

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