Microsoft Outlook is an extensive tool to manage personal tasks and projects. While primarily used for email communication, it also includes a calendar, task reminders and contacts. With nearly a billion users worldwide it has become the number one industry standard for accessing business emails, calendars, and contacts. In this post, we cover ten ways to maximize your productivity in your organization, and enhance your user experience with this application.
1. Create Email Signatures
Designing a customized email signature is an important start in creating your corporate identity. Outlook allows you to create and modify a signature using various fonts, alignments, links and images.
To Access your Signature in Outlook click File > Options > Mail > Signatures:
A “Signatures and Stationary” pop-up window will appear. In this window, there is a toolbar that offers different functionalities to customize your signature. Within this toolbar (shown below) you can select different fonts and alignments, and add business cards, pictures and links.
To learn more about using signatures in Outlook, we recommend reading the Microsoft Office 365 Signature Guide article.
2. Save Time By Using Quick Parts for Easy Insertion
Do you spend a lot of time looking through your sent folder to find the perfect message content to reuse? If you do, Quick parts is for you. Quick Parts is a feature in Outlook that gives you the ability to reuse saved texts or templates throughout an email. Saving information and redistributing it in templates allows you to quickly answer common questions, and be consistent with your answers. Another plus? Others within your organization can the content too.
Quick Parts can be accessed by creating a new email and navigating to the Insert tab. After selecting the Quick Parts button, you can choose and edit the various types of blocks you would like to copy into your email template.
3. Quick Steps
Quick Steps helps you efficiently manage your mailbox with just one click. These shortcuts allow you to easily perform repetitive tasks, quickly divide information to organized folders, and save you time during the busy workday.
The Quick Steps module is located in the Mail module box under the Home tab. This box consists of preset tasks that can be customized. To read more on Quick Steps, visit the Automate Common Tasks with Quick Steps tutorial.
4. Group Messages by
This conversation setting in Outlook will help you have a more efficient inbox. By using the rule parameter located in the mail module, you can move and organize emails based upon the sender. Upon creating a rule, you can delegate where emails from the selected sender are to be organized. You can also create rules with the Rules Wizard, which allows for a wider range of customization options:
5. Folder for Common Searches
If you perform similar inbox searches regularly, Outlook’s Custom Search folders will let you save those repetitive searches so you can access them in just a few clicks. Once it’s set up, this folder will help you to filter through the many emails you receive.
Setup can easily be done by clicking the New Search Folder Feature located in the Folder tab. With this feature you can sort your messages by sender, and set other conditions to make it simpler and faster to organize your emails.
The screenshot below explains how you can specify the sender who’s messages you want organized in a certain folder. In the “search mail in” textbox, simply type the email address you wish to place in the new search folder:
For more information on creating and customizing your New Search Folder, please refer to Search Folders Feature in Outlook 365.
6. Sharing Calendars
Compare schedules and availability without leaving your desk or having to make a phone call! One of the great business tools Outlook has is the ability to share calendars with others in your same company. Once you share your calendar, the person you shared it with can view your calendar within their own calendar list. They can also choose to who’s calendar they want to view, and even view multiple calendars at the same time. When you share your calendar, you are able to delegate who can view the calendar, as well as define permissions for what they can edit.
To share your calendar, from the calendar folder, select the Home tab and click Share Calendar:
7. Keyboard Shortcuts
Outlook has many keyboard shortcuts that allow you to execute a command without using your mouse. Some important Outlook keyboard shortcuts include:
Reply to an Email: CTRL + R
Reply All: Alt + R
Forward an Email: Alt + W
Send an Email: Alt + S
Go to Any Date on your Calendar: CTRL + G
Interested in learning even more shortcuts to make your life easier? We found a great article to help you do just that: read The Essential List of Microsoft Outlook Keyboard Shortcuts.
8. Out of Office Automatic Replies
Have you ever gone on vacation and come back to mayhem in the office? Outlook’s Automatic Replies feature won’t be able to put out all of the fires, but it will certainly help. When it’s set up, your account will automatically respond to anyone who emails you during the time you elected to be “out of the office”. Auto Reply messages are customizable, and you can even set specific dates when Outlook should stop and start the auto replies.
Note: If you are using an exchange account, you can create Automatic Replies.
The Automatic Replies function can be found from the main Outlook interface by clicking File > Automatic Replies:
From there you can create your customized, automatic response and set the time frame during which your email will let everyone know you are out of the office:
9. Using Flags and Reminders
Do you struggle to manage all of the items you need to follow up with, and when? Using the Outlook flagging feature can help resolve this issue. When you hover over a specific email, a gray flag icon will appear on the right side of the email. Right click to see your drop down options. Flagging an email can assist you in keeping track of important emails, creating to-do items, and setting custom reminders on specific email items.
When you right click on the flag icon, you are able to assign a specific due date, and set a customized date and time to receive a reminder alert.
These reminder alerts will appear in an Outlook pop-up window at the chosen date and time. Once you have flagged an email, the flag will appear red. When the assigned due date arrives, the text of the email in your inbox will all appear red, as an added reminder to follow up with that correspondence.
10. Schedule an Email to Send Later
Have you ever wanted to send an email on a schedule, rather than immediately? Well, Outlook has a tool for that too. Scheduling an email to send at a specific time can be easily done by using the Delay Delivery function. Create a new email, and then click on the Options tab. The Delay Delivery button will be located on the top tab, on the far right.
From the Delay Delivery menu, you can include additional settings to define how and when you want your email to be delivered:
Thanks for reading! If you are interested in learning more about how Outlook can help you run your specific business, please contact Kitsap Networking Services or Sequim I.T. We offer Outlook Workshops to help you and your employees become more familiar with the Outlook interface, and customize the app to match your company needs and make the migration transition easy. Give us a call today!
Kitsap Networking Office: 360-516-6741
Sequim Office: 360-504-3272