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My Favorite Outlook Email Tips – Part 2

By Holly Uverity, CPO® of Office Organizers

Remember, no organizing tip will work unless you do it on a regular, routine basis until it becomes a habit; be sure to take time each day or week to organize and process your emails. Spending just a few minutes each day on your Inbox will save you countless hours later. In a previous column, I wrote about four of my favorite Outlook email tips; here are another four that you can use to manage that Inbox.

  1. Open Outlook in Outlook Today. When you open Outlook, does it automatically open in Mail? If you’re like most people, the answer is yes but it should be no. Starting your day looking at your emails means it’s just that much easier for you to be distracted by someone else’s agenda. It’s much smarter and more productive to open Outlook in ‘Outlook Today’. Outlook Today is a big picture view of what’s coming up for you. It shows you the next week’s appointments and tasks all in one place.
    • To make Outlook Today your default opening screen, go to the Navigation Pane (the left hand side of your screen where your folders are) and click on Mailbox – Your Name. If you are not connected to a server, it might say ‘Outlook Data File’ but it’s the option directly above your Inbox. The screen that pops up is Outlook Today. Find the option on that page that says ‘Customize Outlook Today’ and click it; on that page, check the box that says ‘When Starting, Go Directly to Outlook Today’. On that same page, there are options for customizing what you see and I encourage you to take a few minutes and play with the customizations until you find the ones you like the best. Be sure to hit ‘Save Changes’ and the next time you open Outlook, it will open in Outlook Today.
  2. Turn off incoming email alerts. By allowing the transparent window to pop up each time you receive an email, you are working reactively and not proactively. It’s a mistake to allow the receipt of an email to drag you off task. Turning off the alert may seem disconcerting; you may feel as if you’re missing something but you’re not. All your emails are exactly where they’ve always been but now YOU choose when to look at them.
    • To turn off the email alerts, click on the File tab in the upper left hand corner (it’s in yellow). Next click on ‘Options’ near the bottom; then click on ‘Mail’. That opens up your Options for Mail window and about in the middle, you’ll see a section called ‘Message Arrival’. It’s in that section that you choose what Outlook does when you get a new message so uncheck ‘Play a Sound’ and ‘Display Desktop Alert’. Click OK and close the window and now you will no longer see the transparent windows pop up when your email arrives.
  3. Unsubscribe instead of deleting. If you are spending a lot of time deleting emails, consciously look at what you’re deleting. This is really simple but often overlooked. If you’re always deleting and never reading, just unsubscribe. Period! Fewer emails in your Inbox translates to less time spent processing them.
  4. Save attachments and emails in your Documents Library. Did you know you can save your emails along with your other documents in your Documents Library? Let’s assume you have a folder for Project ABC in your email folder list in Outlook AND one in your Documents Library. You probably save the emails in the Outlook folder and the other documents in the Documents Library folder. If you save all your information in the Documents Library, everything will be together and you’ll only have one place to look for any one thing. Saving emails in the Documents Library will also keep the size of your Outlook file smaller which will make your IT department happy. While you’re working on any project, it makes sense to keep the emails in Outlook. Once any project is over, get in the habit of clearing out the email folder and saving all the emails in the Documents Library.
    • To save an email, including its attachments, that is outside of Outlook, click on ‘Save As’ from the email itself and navigate to where you want it saved. Once it’s saved in another folder, you can safely delete from Outlook, but don’t worry; if you need it back in Outlook, it’s easy to move it back.

Office Organizers is The Entrepreneur’s Organizer. Founded in 1993, they work with business people to create solutions for their organizational challenges. Contact them at 281.655.5022, www.OfficeOrganizers.com, or www.fb.com/OfficeOrganizers.

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