Saving time during the business day should be a top priority for all professionals. One of the best ways to do this is by cutting down the time you take on everyday tasks like using Microsoft Outlook. In this video, you will discover 10 helpful tips for optimizing your organization and getting more done when using Outlook.
Let’s take a look at 10 ways you can save time and be more productive when using Microsoft Outlook.
Using rules is a way to turn Outlook into your own personal assistant, by automating manual actions that would usually take up extra time. Rules allow you to create instructions for Outlook so that it can process messages in a predetermined way. Some examples of rules would be moving specific messages to folders, assigning categories, deleting messages, or forwarding a message.
To create a rule, right click your example message, hover over “rules”, select “create a rule”, choose your criteria, rename the rule, and hit “finish”. You can also find the “create a rule” button under the home tab. Advanced options are also available to you, and can limit the criteria further by searching for things such as key words related to certain clients. To change a rule after it has already been created, go to “rules” and select “manage rules”. Also note that you can run rules on already existing messages.
Favoriting folders separates them from your less frequently used folders. They sit above navigation, making them easier to find. You can drag a folder to the favorites area, making it a favorites folder, or you can right click on it to do the same thing. Your favorite folders can be rearranged or removed by right clicking on them. To add a message to a favorite folder, simply drag it there.
Convert Email To A Task
Converting an email to a task saves you time when trying to create a workflow schedule. To make an email into a task, right click the flag next to the message, set the time you want to do the task at (custom times are available), and add a reminder. Another way to do this is by opening the message, clicking the “follow up” drop down, setting the time, and adding the reminder. Furthermore, you can drag the message to the task area. After doing this, it is good practice to move the email to a different folder, that way you know it has been handled.
Convert Email To An Appointment
Converting an email to an appointment is a way to keep yourself more organized, thus saving time. To do this, hold down the right click on the mouse while hovering over the message, drag to your calendar, and select the appointment type. If you would like to invite others to the appointment, change it to a meeting and send the invite to those individuals.
The read aloud feature is helpful because it will read messages to you. Please note that read aloud is called immersive reader in Outlook for the web. To enable read aloud, go to “file”, click “options”, select “ease of access” and then “show read aloud”. To use this feature select read aloud in the message tab. When using read aloud you will be shown a toolbar. This toolbar has features such as play and pause, to give you more control over the function. In the toolbar you can also change the reading voice or speed of read aloud. Additionally, you can double click a word and hit play to start listening from that point.
Dictation is similar to the speech to text function on a cell phone. It allows you to verbally say what you would like to send in your message, and Outlook will transcribe it for you. This feature is only available to Microsoft 365 subscribers with the Outlook desktop app.
When trying to use dictation, you will find the option under the message tab, within the dictate drop down. As you are dictating your message, make sure to say which punctuation you would like to use (“exclamation mark” for !). After you are finished with dictation, make sure to make any edits you need with your keyboard. You can use dictation in the subject line of your message or the body.
If you are working outside of the standard workday hours, delay delivery may be helpful for you. With delay delivery, you can choose when a message will send, while being able to draft it at any time. For example, you could write a message to Phil at 10:00 pm on Saturday and have it delayed until 9:00 am Monday morning. To write a delayed delivery message, create or reply to an email, click “options”, select “delay delivery”, choose “options”, and send the message.
Quick steps is a very useful tool in Outlook. It allows you to apply multiple actions to a message with one click. So, you could have a message from Mark sent to your Finance folder and forwarded to Glenn all in one press of a button. Quick steps can be found on the home tab of your ribbon. Also, these functions are not always active the way rules are, you choose when they are used. They are easy to customize, and you can create or delete any quick step at any time.
To make a quick step, go to “quick steps” under the home tab, click “create new”, name the quick step, choose the actions that it will complete, add actions as needed to get the desired effect, and “finish”. During this process you can also make a shortcut if you plan to use the quick step often. You can also change the order of your quick step list, edit a quick step, and duplicate or delete one by going to “manage quick steps”.
Creating quick parts allows you to have helpful templates for repetitive emails you may send. To create a quick part, start a new message, type and edit the message, highlight the section you would like to make into a quick part, select “insert”, and go to “quick parts”. Then, click “save section to quick part gallery”, give it a name, pick the category it will go in, add a description, choose your options, and you’re all set.
To use your new quick part, have your cursor in the body of the message, go to “insert”, then “quick parts”, pick the one you would like to use, and edit as needed. If you ever need to replace a quick part, repeat the above steps and select “replace quick part” when prompted. You can also hover over the existing quick part, right click, and select “organize and delete”. Please note that you can use more than one quick part per message.
Quick Access Toolbar
The quick access toolbar is a way for you to navigate Outlook faster, saving you time during the day. It gives you access to lots of different features at the press of a button. The toolbar sits right above the ribbon, but you can also change it to below the ribbon by selecting the drop down and clicking “show below the ribbon”. Another great thing about the toolbar is that each area of Outlook has its own version. For instance, the new message area would only show you features that are relevant to composing a message.
To customize the toolbar, click the drop down next to the undo button and choose which features you would like to include. There is a wide assortment to pick from. You can even include some features mentioned prior, like delayed delivery and quick parts. To change the order of features in the toolbar or which ones are shown, select the drop down and go to “more commands”. Additionally, you can right click on the toolbar and choose “customize quick access toolbar”.
When trying to find ways to save time, boosting productivity and organization is key. With these 10 tips you will be able to automate tasks and create shortcuts to speed up your time spent in Microsoft Outlook. For any more questions or concerns you have, please feel free to reach out to us. Technology can be hard, but we can help make it easier.
Don Baham, CISSP, CISA, MCSE, is President of Kraft Technology Group, LLC (KTG). Within his role, Don is responsible for delivering IT strategic planning and virtual CIO services, the development of client relationships, bringing new solutions to the market, and leading the strategic direction of KTG. Don has more than 20 years of experience in information technology with a blended background in technology consulting and architecture, information security and business development.
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