“Time is money” is not a new concept but in recent years everyone seems to want more time. One way we can claw back some minutes or even hours is through being more efficient.
Below we share some Outlook tips and tricks to avoid spending too much time on the tasks we don’t like, to make room for those we do.
1. Streamline Your Inbox
This is probably the most obvious of our tips but is one that most people put off. It can seem an intimidating task, but we promise if you do it once, maintaining it takes seconds but shaves off minutes for you day-to-day.
Having a personalised folder system can make it easier to navigate your tasks, and reduce time spent searching for emails. It can also have a positive impact on your mental health if you are no longer looking at a jumble of tasks.
Additionally, when you have a folder system in place you are more likely to keep up with this system.
Go to the left pane of Mail > right-click where you want to add the folder > then click New Folder.
2. Create Templates
Often in business, we send the same or similar emails over and over. Having templates can be an effective time management tool and can also reduce stress.
Spend some time crafting the ideal email template. Pay good attention to editing to avoid any embarrassing typos or grammatical errors.
Be careful with templates though! It is always important to create and maintain relationships and we do that through personalisation. Highlight in another colour any text that needs to be tailored to the recipient. When sending a templated email consider what you can add that will enhance your relationship with the recipient.
To create a template, go to File > Save As… > Outlook template, then click on Items > Choose Form… > User Templates > Input and save your template here.
3. Schedule Your Emails
Do you find you have little nuggets of time throughout the day and want to utilise them better but have nothing immediate to do? Are you, like me, a huge fan of procrastination and prefer to have a 5–10-minute break from your current task every hour or so? Great!
We think procrastination gets a bad rep. All you have to do is use it productively. When I feel I’m hitting a wall I like to set a timer and spend up to 10 minutes on other tasks, such as sending emails.
I don’t know about you, but I have in the past been guilty of drafting an email and forgetting to send it at the appropriate time. Outlooks scheduling function is a lifesaver!
Write your email, then go to Options > Delay Delivery > Do not deliver before, then specify the time and date you want it to go out.
This function is also great when you know you won’t be available when the email needs to be sent. No more getting caught sending emails in meetings!
4. Have Conversations
Quite often in an organisation, email threads can become lengthy and difficult to navigate. It’s one of the reasons we dread opening Outlook after a day or two off.
Outlook has a feature that allows you to connect messages in what they call a conversation view. This makes long email threads easier to digest and refer to as and when you need them.
To activate this function, click View > Show as Conversations.
Try it out, you won’t be disappointed!
5. They Have an App for That
Outlook 2013 transferred its infrastructure to a web-based view making it accessible from a phone or tablet. This can be an invaluable resource. Waiting for the train? Send that email. At a school function that hasn’t started yet. Send that memo.
With this new infrastructure, you can operate your Outlook anytime, anywhere and it will log your history for you to refer to when needed.
6. Cut Out Distractions
A lot of Outlook inboxes are set up in a way that they will notify you every time you get an email. If you’re anything like me this can be an invitation to procrastinate and distract from your task at hand.
Studies show that you can lose up to 25 minutes every time you are distracted by an email. We recommend that you turn off notifications to avoid this pitfall.
Concerned you’ll miss something important? Not a problem. With Outlook you can create custom alerts.
File > Options > Mail Options > Create a Custom Rule to Only Display Alerts for Messages from Specific Contacts.
All programmes have keyboard shortcuts that are a great way to shave off time.
Some of our most used shortcuts include Ctrl + R (reply to an email) Alt + W (forward an email), and Alt + S (send an email).
8. Keep Junk at Bay
Whilst we at Bailey Systems recommend that you have a solid anti-spam system through a trusted IT adviser, there are a few things you can do yourself.
Outlook allows you to block junk mail which reduces your time dealing with such mail and reduces risk to your company.
Click Home > Junk email options > Identify which senders (and even which countries) you want to block.
Reach out to us to learn more about how we can help you keep your company secure.