How often do you find yourself rushing around in a panic… trying to get some important task completed… maybe you forgot to do something you had promised someone else in an email… or maybe someone else did not do something you had emailed them about (if only you had followed up!).
Do you find yourself forgetting to take actions or follow-up on emails that you have sent out?
The result of missing these actions can be annoying or it can be catastrophic (I know I am overstating things but I HAD to use the word catastrophic after I thought of it).
- You could miss out on an important opportunity
- You could end up having to put in extra unplanned hours to get a task completed at the last minute
- You could end up missing out on important personal or family time because you had to do the missed work at the last minute
- You could end up looking unprofessional because you missed an important action
There is a FREE and EASY solution that already
EXISTS IN OUTLOOK!
Create a Task or Appointment from the Sent Emails
(It did NOT work well for me but you may be more disciplined)
The solution is easy… simply create a task or appointment in your Outlook Calendar for each email you need to follow up on. You can modify the task/appointment so that it reminds you at the appropriate time.
Use this simple technique so that a copy of your email is attached to the Task or Appointment.
Every time you send out an email that requires further action or follow-up, go to the Sent Items folder and drag-and-drop the email from the Sent Items folder to either your Task List or your Calendar.
This will automatically create either a new Appointment or a new Task for you that you can then modify with due dates etc!
If you drag & drop using the right mouse button (instead of the left), you will also get options to attach the email to the newly created appointment/task.
Just getting the associated actions in your Calendar or Task List could be all the help you needed. But…
Unfortunately this did NOT work for me?
Why? Every time I send out an email I have to remember to go to the Sent Items folder (after waiting for the email to be sent)… It’s just too easy to forget… and it takes too much (unnecessary) discipline.
I had the team build some functionality into our QuickFile PRO application an year ago to help me out but even that wasn’t good enough… It did what was needed but it still needed too many clicks… what can I say… my mother was right… I AM LAZY!
But laziness isn’t a bad thing really… especially if you have a great programming team. So I’ve had them redesign one of the screens in QuickFile PRO for me.
I have been testing the new screen for the last 4 weeks and it works great.
It prompts me automatically every time I send out an email and…
I can file, create a task and/or an appointment all from
We will release the new version at the end of the week.
This will be a FREE update for existing users and we’ll do a special discount for new users. I’ll tell you more about it when everything is ready.
In the meantime, try the free drag-and-drop approach to see if it works for you. Just moving those emails to your Task list or Calendar could have a great effect on your productivity.
Till later… when I show you our great new screen… Have a Great Outlook.
In Outlook, if a folder has any unread emails, then the folder is bold and the number of unread emails is written in brackets BUT… this only reflects the folder itself… what about emails in its subfolders?
This can be a problem if you have (for instance) a folder called Clients and subfolders under it for each client. The Clients folder will not go bold or reflect the number of unread emails in the individual client folders.
The solution to this is to use Search Folders.
If you are not sure what Search Folders are then I recommend that you scroll down and read the section titled What are Search Folders first.
How to create a Search folder to show folder and subfolder contents
- Go to your inbox
- If you are using Outlook 2010, (on the ribbon) click on the Folder Tab-New Search Folder.
For all other versions of Outlook, (on the menu) click File-New-Search Folder
If you are using more than one Outlook data file (PST or Exchange), make sure the relevant data file is selected for “Search mail in”.
- Scroll down the list and select Create a Custom Search Folder.
- Click Choose… to display the Custom Search Folder Screen.
- Enter a suitable name (e.g. All Client Folders)
- Click the Browse Button.
- Untick the main data folder from the top and just select the folder that you are interested in. Make sure that Search subfolders is ticked.
- Click OK, click OK and click OK again to return to your Inbox.
The new Search Folder will be added to your Outlook.
This will show you all emails in your selected folders and its subfolders. You can treat it like any “real folder” in Outlook now e.g. you can change the view to show only unread email if you want.
What are Search Folders?
Search folders are NOT “real” Outlook folders. Instead they allow you to define a search on your Outlook data and then display the results back in what looks like a normal Outlook folder.
The folder will be displayed under a folder called Search Folders (as shown above).
Cool Thing #1: Once you create a Search Folder, the search is saved for you. To do the same Search in the future, you simply click on the folder representing the search which brings us to Cool Thing #2.
Cool Thing #2: You can actually treat the Search Folder like any real folder in Outlook e.g. you can apply views, change displayed columns etc.
Do you use Search Folders to solve other problems? Let us know by leaving a comment on the blog.
In the physical (paper) world, printed business cards are a common way of sharing contact information. Do you know that Outlook also provides a very effective way of sending electronic business cards?
What is an electronic business card?
Electronic business cards are called vCards and are files with the extension vcf. vCards are now recognized by most email clients so you can use Outlook to send and receive vCards even if they do not use Outlook.
Outlook makes it easy to:
- Send vCards: Convert any contact record to a vCard file (and then send the file)
- Receive vCards: Convert a received vCard into a contact in your Outlook
Create your own Business Card (vCard)
vCards in Outlook are made from contact records. To make your vCard you first need to create an Outlook contact with your own details in it.
- If you are using Outlook 2010, (on the ribbon) click on the Home Tab–New Items–Contact to open a new contact record (or create a new contact record using any other method).
For earlier versions of Outlook, (on the menu) click File–New–Contact.
- Enter any details about yourself that you want to share with others.
- Click Save & Close.
Your contact record is now ready to be used as an electronic business card.
Send your vCard with all your emails
The easiest way to send your vCard to others is to add it to your signature so that it gets attached automatically to emails.
The following steps explain how to create a new signature with a vCard. The steps to add a vCard to an existing email are very similar.
- If you are using Outlook 2010, (on the ribbon) click File–Options. Select the Mail section and then click the Signatures button.
For other versions of Outlook, (on the menu) click on Tools–Options, click on the Mail Format tab and then the Signatures button.
- Click New to add a new signature.
- Enter a name for your signature, and then click Next.
- Type the desired signature information in the text window.
- In Outlook 2010 and 2007, click Business Card, select the contact that you want to add, and then click OK three times.
In earlier versions of Outlook, click New vCard from Contact.
- In the Show Names from the box, select Contacts or another address list.
- Click to select the entry for which you want to create a vCard, click OK, click Finish, and then click OK to complete the signature entry.
- Assign this signature to the Email account you want and click OK
Now (depending on your signature settings) when you create a new e-mail, your Business Card will be automatically attached to it.
If the signature is not assigned to your e-mail account, you can insert it by:
If you are using Outlook 2010/2007:
- On your composed e-mail, go to Insert tab
- Click Signature and select your signature that has the Business Card
If you are using earlier versions of Outlook:
- On your composed e-mail, go to Insert menu > Signature
- Select your signature that has the Business Card
Receiving vCards and adding them to your Contacts
If you receive an email with a vCard (vcf file), it is super easy to add it to your Contacts list.
If you are using Outlook 2010/2007:
- Right-click on the Business Card in the received e-mail
- Click on Add to Contacts.
- A contacts window will open with all the fields filled-in from the Business Card.
- Make any needed changes then Click Save and Close
If you are using earlier versions of Outlook:
- Double-click on the Business Card in the received e-mail
- Outlook will open the window in a Contact form
- Click Save and Close to save that contact to your Default Contacts folder.
Sending other people’s contact information
Do you need to send someone’s contact details to someone else? Now you can just send their vCard (I am assuming here that the person is in your contact list).
In Outlook 2010/2007:
- Click on the Insert tab on the ribbon
- Click on Business Card and select the name you want to insert on the list (Click Other Business Cards if the name is not on the list).
In earlier versions of Outlook:
- Open the contact (person whose business card you need to send).
- In the open contact, on the Actions menu, click Forward as vCard. Outlook attaches the contact information in a vCard file called contactname.vcf
- Complete the rest of the message and click Send.
I hope that this guide to vCards has been useful. Please let me know what you think by commenting.
A friend who does a lot of consulting work had a very unusual problem. He often works on reports late at night that end up getting emailed out in the very early hours of the morning.
Problem: The recipient can see the Sent time of the email. In his industry this could be viewed as being very dedicated… or unprofessional.
Manual Solution: Save the email to your Drafts folder and (hopefully) remember to open it and send it in the morning.
Automatic Solution: Get Outlook to automatically send it out for you in the morning.
Here are the steps to schedule or delay the sending of your emails. After you have finished typing up the email, don’t click Send (yet).
In Outlook 2010/2007: Click Options and then click Delay Delivery (on the Ribbon) to display the Message Options screen.
In other versions of Outlook: Click Options on the toolbar to display the Message Options screen.
Under Delivery Options, tick “Do not deliver before” and fill in the relevant date and time. Click Close.
Now click Send!
Your email will be moved to the Outbox but will not be sent out until the first time (after your set time) that Outlook does a Send & Receive.
Letting Outlook color-code emails can greatly improve your productivity by focusing your attention on the right emails. Here are a few simple tips … using tools that are built into Outlook … that you can use to achieve this.
The instructions in this post apply to Outlook 2000-2007. If you are using Outlook 2010, refer to Let Outlook highlight your important emails.
Color messages sent only to you
If you don’t respond to a message, that was addressed only to you, then no one will. Outlook’s Organize feature makes it easy to highlight these messages so that you don’t miss them.
- Go to your Inbox
- Click Tools-Organize to display the Organize pane..
- Click Using Colors (on the left) of the Organize pane.
- Click the Turn On button next to “Messages sent only to me now appear blue”. (Change the color from blue if you want)
Slight problem … You may find that this also colors email newsletters you receive in your Inbox as they are normally addressed to you (only) as well. I get around this by using rules to automatically move newsletters to a folder I have called Read Later.
Color messages sent by your boss, wife/husband, important clients etc
You can use the same Organize function to color code emails from specific people.
- Go to your Inbox
- Click Tools-Organize
- Click Using Colors
- Change the drop-down next to Color Message so that it reads “from”
- Type in the email address in the box provided (or select an email from that person in your Inbox and Outlook will fill in the box for you)
- Change the color if you need to.
- Click the Apply Color button.
Deleting Color Coding
If you need to delete or change the color coding at a later date.
- Go to your Inbox
- Click Tools-Organize
- Click Using Colors
- Click Automatic Formatting to display the list of color formats applied to the folder
- Select the relevant item from the list and click Delete
Advanced Color Coding
You can also use the Automatic Formatting screen described in the previous Delete section for more advanced color coding. Detailed instructions can be found on an earlier post titled Let Outlook highlight your important emails.
I hope these simple color coding tricks help make your Inbox more manageable.
Do you have you own email coloring tricks? Tell me more by leaving comments on the blog.
Do you subscribe to any email newsletters, mailing lists or groups?
I often find myself going to check my email and 30 minutes later all I have done is read through “interesting” articles instead of doing any real work.
Microsoft’s built-in Rules feature provides a solution.
What are Rules in Outlook?
According to Outlook 2007 Help… A rule is an action that Microsoft Office Outlook takes automatically on an arriving or sent message that meets the conditions that you specify in the rule.
For example… you can set a Rule to automatically move emails from a particular email address out of the Inbox to another folder.
Normally I don’t use Rules much because…
My Inbox is my To-Do list.
I don’t want anything automatically moved out of it. Even Outlook automatically moving items after they are read is NOT acceptable because I sometimes leave stuff in there to deal with later.
I want to move emails out myself after I have finished with them – I need to stay in control of my Inbox.
I use QuickFile 4Outlook to simplify email filing out of my Inbox (and Sent Items).
But in this situation it makes sense…
I want the newsletter emails moved out of my Inbox and into a folder dedicated to newsletters.
These emails are not part of my daily to-do-list and I prefer to go through them when I take a break from real work.
How to create a Rule
BEFORE creating the Rule, create a folder inside Outlook where you want the newsletter emails to be moved to. Then…
- Go to your Inbox
- If you are using Outlook 2010. Click on File and select the Info tab and then click on Manage Rules & Alerts.
- For all other versions of Outlook, click Tools and then click Rules & Alerts.
- Click on New Rule… to display the Rules Wizard as shown below:
- “Move Messages from someone to a folder” will already be highlighted. (This example assumes that the newsletters come from the same email address – otherwise you can use one of the other predefined Rule Templates)
- Click “people or distribution list” to display the Rule Address screen.
- Choose a name from the list or type in the name in the From field and then click OK.
- Click the hyperlinked word “specified” to bring up the Choose Folder dialog. Select the desired folder from the list and then click OK.
Now that the Rule is created, any emails coming from the list will automatically be moved to the chosen folder.
You can also apply it to any emails that are already in the folder by going back to the Rules and Alerts screen and clicking the “Run Rules Now” button.
Use Rules in this way to move emails that you know are NOT part of your REAL WORK.
This keeps your Inbox clean and focused on things that need your attention.
I recommend that you don’t use Rules to shift work related emails.
Keep them coming to your Inbox and use a tool like QuickFile 4Outlook to manage their filing.
I was at a friends office yesterday and observed him rummaging through his desk looking for email printouts… on which he had hand-written notes. We got into a discussion on why we need to make notes on emails at all… and a way of making notes on emails directly in Outlook.
Why do we need to take notes on emails?
It turns out that many conversations are started via email… and then get added to by our own thoughts or phone calls or face-to-face meetings. Adding notes (handwritten or electronic) to emails just makes it easier to refer to the FULL conversation or take action later.
1. Emails from people outside our own companies are often followed by phone calls… it is convenient to record follow-up notes directly on the email so that all the information is in one place.
2. We often delegate things to other people in our team via email… and then clarify them via phone calls or face-to-face meetings. Recording details directly on the email makes it easier to check if a delegated task has been fully completed.
3. Similarly we may have work that has been delegated to us via email initially but then followed up by phone calls or face-to-face meetings. Recording details directly on the email improves our chances of carrying out the delegated tasks fully.
4. Like many people I have a habit of quickly scanning through my emails… if an email relates to something I can do easily, I take action… otherwise I work on it later but… I may have ideas immediately and it is useful to record it with the email… ready for me to use later. This way I don’t lose thoughts or ideas related to an email.
One way of writing notes on emails is to do what my friend used to do… print out the emails… handwrite on them… and hope you can find them later.
The downsides of this method are that we waste a lot of paper… and the emails and notes are difficult to find when we need them
There is an easier way… use Email Notes for Outlook… an Outlook addin that adds a button inside Outlook for you so that you can easily add, view, edit and print notes on emails… all from inside Outlook.
You can learn more about and download a fully functional version of Email Notes for Outlook from our website.
Here are what some existing customers say about Email Notes for Outlook.
I help people with insurance and Email Notes makes it so much easier for me to work. I make the note on the email lead and it makes it so much easier to keep myself organized. Those notes have made a difference in my closing ratio. – Jim Lambert
EmailNotes gives me an immediate way to jot a reminder to myself connected with the e-mail. Absolutely hassle-free installation and use with Outlook. Wonderful utility!! –Pam Rolph
I don’t have to print the email message, hand write a note on it, and then keep track of it on my desk. Eliminates extra desktop paper and the info doesn’t get accidentally put in a job folder lost forever. – Patrick J. O’Leary, Estimator/Project Manager
Over the last few days I have received several emails in my Outlook Inbox from LinkedIn… turns out that the emails were not from LinkedIn at all. This is the latest trick that spammers are using to get you to click on links that send you to their websites. Luckily… it is easy for Outlook users find out if a link is safe to click.
But first… What are the dangers of clicking on a spammers link?
One or more of several bad things can happen when you click on a trick link:
- You end up going to a website selling stuff you have no interest in.
- You end up telling the spammer that the email they sent you was sent to a valid email address… so they send you even more spam… and maybe sell your email address to other spammers.
- The website you end up at infects your computer with a virus or worm.
So you need to make sure that the link is real before clicking on it!
How to check to see if the link is valid?
Simply move your mouse over the link (but do not click on it).
Outlook will display the URL that the link is pointing to as shown below.
In this case, it is obvious that the link is NOT going to LinkedIn… so don’t click on it… don’t click on ANY of the links in the email… and delete the email too!
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