Take action on your Outlook emails at the click of a button (QuickSteps)

By standss · Comments ( 2 ) Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

You can reclaim a lot of your time and energy wasted on emails by automating repetitive tasks. Outlook has a built-in feature called Quick-Steps that makes it easy to create your own automations.

The easiest way to show you the power of QuickSteps is with an example.

Our company owns a property that is rented out. The property is managed by another company for us. When any repairs etc need to be carried out, they get the appropriate vendors to come in and do the work. Once the work is successfully completed they send us a copy of the vendor’s invoice so that we can pay the vendor directly. These emails are usually sent to me.

When I receive these emails, and assuming that everything is OK, I do the following:

1.       Forward the email to my Accounts person and advise them to make the payment (Click Forward, type the person’s email address, type Please Pay and then click Send)

2.       File a copy of the original email in a folder inside Outlook called Properties. (This can be done by dragging and dropping or using QuickFile for Outlook.

You can use QuickSteps to reduce all of the above to the CLICK OF ONE BUTTON.

Creating the QuickStep

On the Home tab of the Ribbon, click QuickSteps-New QuickStep -Forward To

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Enter an appropriate name.

If I only wanted to forward the email (And not do the second filing step), I can simply enter the email address in the space provided and clicked Finish).

Click Options.

Click the Show Options hyperlink.

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Enter an email address in the To field (or click the To button and choose an email address).

Enter any text that you want to be displayed in the email that will be forwarded.

The QuickStep now contains everything needed to Forward the email. Time to add the filing component.

Click Add Action

Choose Move to Folder and select the folder you want to move the email to.

Click Save

Note on an Outlook Bug:

There is a bug in Outlook that sometimes prevents the QuickStep from being saved. Clicking Save does not give an error message but the screen does not close either. If this happens to you, the solution is to type the whole email address again (the email that was in the To field earlier).

Using the QuickStep

Using the QuickStep is easy.

Click QuickStep on the Ribbon and select the new QuickStep. Outlook will automatically carry out your programmed actions.

You can also right-click over the email in your Inbox and select QuickSteps from there.

Start automating today…

What do you do daily that you can use QuickSteps for? Let us know by leaving a comment in the blog below.

(While QuickSteps can assist with email filing as shown in the example above, if you have more than just a few folders, we recommend the QuickFile for Outlook addin.

 

 

How to Schedule Appointments without Overwhelming Yourself

By standss · Comments ( 1 ) Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

Do you find yourself turning up at appointments late (or stressfully on time)? The problem may not be related to having too much to do but instead to how you schedule your appointments.

The secret to stress-free appointments is what happens before and after the appointment!

For me appointments are basically things I need to do at a specific time and day. These include work related meetings with others, work related things I need to get done on my own, as well as personal things such as taking my son to music or playing golf.

I used to find myself frequently “arriving” late to appointments until one of my new golfing friends told me that 4 PM golf means you should be ready to tee off (start playing) at 4, not arrive in the car park at 4.

Learning to be on time for golf has helped me discover some rules that have helped me use appointments in a more productive and less stressful way.

1: Is there enough time to finish off from any previous appointment (before this appointment)

Do you need to make notes or schedule follow-up actions after the previous appointment is over?

If you’ve been working on something on your own, have you allocated enough time to save your files in the correct folders etc?

Have you allocated enough time to do that before the start of the next appointment?

2: Have you given yourself enough time to prepare or to get to the meeting?

If the meeting is somewhere else, have you allocated enough time for travel (and taken into account the amount of traffic at that time of day)?

This is one I frequently got wrong when taking my son to guitar lessons. I underestimated the time to pick him from school, take him for a milk shake (might as well make the guitar lesson a weekly father-son event), and then end up at the lesson.

If it’s a sales meeting, have you given yourself enough time to get familiar with the client and the offer?

3: Have you given yourself enough time after the appointment?

This is the same as #1 but for this meeting instead of the previous appointment. It is liberating to finish a meeting knowing it’s finished (instead of knowing that you need to take time out later to make notes etc).

What does this mean for your Outlook Appointments?

Before you set an appointment in your Outlook Calendar, make sure that there is enough space between that appointment and the ones before and after.

If it’s an appointment with yourself then you can create a meeting slot that includes the before and after time.

If it’s an appointment with someone else, then you probably want to make the start of the meeting the actual meeting time. In that case make sure that there is enough free space before the meeting for you to travel, prepare etc.

Outlook also lets you set Reminders for appointments. By default this is set to 15 minutes but you can change this to whatever you want for individual appointments.

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Change the reminder to give yourself enough before the meeting to get to the meeting on time and fully prepared.

Final thoughts…Don’t Schedule too much into your day!

There is a lot of research that now shows that we can get much more done if we schedule regular breaks during our day as well. That was probably the idea behind morning tea and afternoon tea (or the equivalent coffee breaks in modern times).

So remember to take a break.

I hope this tip helps you to get more important things done with less stress.

Please leave a comment if you find this useful… or have your own tips to better appointments.

Email Etiquette and Reply-to-Alls

By standss · Comments ( 1 ) Monday, March 23rd, 2015

The Reply-to-All button in Outlook can be both dangerous and an enormous time-waster, particularly in larger organizations. In this post we look at when it is OK to Reply All and how you can configure Outlook so that you (and others) make the correct choice between Reply and Reply-to-All.

What is the problem with Reply-All?

  1. Productivity: It wastes time and important network bandwidth.

Have you ever been part of an email chain in where people start doing Reply-Alls and saying things like “Noted”, “Received” or “Thanks”?

Now imagine this in a big organization where hundreds of users are wasting valuable time looking at those emails.

  1. Confidentiality

Sometimes you want to email only the Sender of the email with your thoughts and extra information. Clicking Reply-All can accidentally put everyone in the loop and can lead to embarrassing and possibly expensive mistakes.

When should you use Reply All?

This article from the Huffington Post on Email Etiquette has some scenarios that provide guidance on deciding.

The answer to this is common sense.

Use Reply All only when all recipients NEED to be kept informed. Otherwise just Reply to the people who actually need to be emailed.

The other way to decide is to look at the original email to see if it meant to be a conversation or discussion.  If the answer is YES, and you are adding something of value then a Reply-All is appropriate.

When should you NOT use Reply All?

  1. For a personal comment or conversation with one of the recipients, particularly if you are bad-mouthing one of the other recipients.
  2. When you want to acknowledge to the original sender that you have received the email with a short.

Is it possible to reduce Reply-Alls in your organization?

Out of the box, Outlook requires users to exercise restraint. Unfortunately this rarely happens. It is too easy to click Reply-All.

We created Reply-Guard for Outlook to assist with this. Reply Guard is a component of our Send Guard for Outlook product that is already used by thousands of companies around the world.

Reply Guard does more than just warn users. It immediately makes it obvious to users exactly who will be receiving the email.

You can find out more about Reply Guard in the next blog post.

Getting Important (but not-fun) Work Done

By standss · Comments ( 1 ) Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

Here’s a tip that may help to get your important (but not fun work done) and still leave you time to do your enjoyable work. The secret is based on structuring this work as if you were back in high school.

We all have things that we were created to do…. work that we enjoy doing.

It’s probably what we studied in college and what we started our careers doing. But..

Over the years, the roles have changed. Our responsibilities have included things that we don’t enjoy as much.

Our businesses need us to do other things too!

For example:

If you’re a lawyer… or an engineer… or a software developer… or in any creative field, you may find that over the years you have had to do more and more admin and sales work… in fact over time it may feel like you are spending more time doing that kind of work than what you actually signed up for.

Do you find yourself doing all kinds of unproductive things just to avoid making that important sales call, or looking at the accounts?

The type of things I do including checking emails, checking Facebook or going for a cup of coffee… any excuse will do!

This leads to TWO NEGATIVE results.

  1. The work that is important for the business does not get done and
  2. I find I don’t really enjoy the work that I normally would enjoy because (at the back of my mind) I feel guilty for not doing the work that needed to be done.

The solution turned out to be something very simple.

Schedule your (non-fun) work as if you were back in high school

Back when we were in school, we had different classes or periods. Maths was at 10 AM, English at 11 AM and so on. We spent time on all our important subjects because it was scheduled and done at a particular time.

I have found that I am much more productive if I use the same idea for the work that my business needs me to do (but I may not enjoy as much).

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I have scheduled various 30 minute blocks of time into my week for Sales Emails, Team Mentoring, and Marketing Analysis. Some of these activities may get more than one period per week.

On the allocated time, I set aside what I am doing and focus on the “Subject” for 30 minutes. Sometimes the works gets done before the end of “class”.

Other times I keep going because I am in the flow and the work seems easy to do.

And if I am not in the flow, I work till the end of the “period” and then leave the subject for the next allocated time on my calendar.

This simple trick has helped me become much more productive. The work that is important to our business is now getting done.

A nice side effect has been that I find myself enjoying my work day much more as I no longer feel guilty for ignoring important work.

I hope that this tip helps you too. If you have other productivity tips, please share it with other readers by leaving a comment below.

Categories : Office Tip, Outlook Performance, project management Comments ( 1 )

Keyboard Shortcut to Hide or Show the Ribbon in Outlook

By standss · Comments ( 0 ) Monday, May 26th, 2014

Here’s a super shot quick and easy to hide or show the ribbon in Outlook. This is a useful tip if you want to make better use of your screen space but still use the buttons on the Ribbon too.

  • To hide the Ribbon, simply press CTRL+F1
  • To show the Ribbon, press CTRL+F1 again

Do you have your own keyboard shortcuts that you find useful… or tips on making better use of the Ribbon. Let us know by leaving a comment below.   Related Posts Keyboard Shortcuts on Ribbons in Outlook 2010 (and 2007) Keyboard Shortcuts in all Versions of Outlook oi_kbd_scuts Subscribe to Outlook for Business Blog

QuickFile for Outlook Add-in Update (Free)

By standss · Comments ( 0 ) Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

I know that it’s only been a few weeks since we released the new version of QuickFile but we’ve had so much great feedback from users that we felt had to be implemented and put out there for you to use right now.

This update is free for all existing registered users of version 5.

Fixes and Features in this upgrade include:

  • Show Sub folders: In previous versions of QuickFile, it was possible to see subfolders of a folder (after searching for it). We’ve put this feature back in Version 5 and done a separate blog post on how to use it.
  • Remove suggestions: Folder recommendations in QuickFile are significantly more accurate in QuickFile Version 5. However there may be cases where you want to remove a suggestion. You can do this now by right clicking over the suggestion on the QuickFile screen as shown in this blog post.
  • Significant speed improvement when moving emails: Some users found that QuickFile as a sometimes slow when moving emails. We’ve rewritten the moving code.
  • Bug Fixes: There were a number of small bugs in other screens that have been tidied up.

Click to download the updated version (or a fully functional trial version) of the QuickFile Outlook addon.

Registered Users: Download the trial version and install it on your computer. It will automatically pick up your existing registration and settings.

New to QuickFile: Click QuickFile for Outlook Version 5 for more information on the easiest way to file and find your emails in Outlook.

Showing subfolders in QuickFile Version 5

By standss · Comments ( 0 ) Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

QuickFile makes it easy to find a folder but what do you do if you need to see its subfolders too. Previous versions of QuickFile showed you the folders in a way that let you expand folders to show its subfolders. Here’s how to view subfolders in QuickFile Version 5.

Please note that this feature is only available in QuickFile 5.0.5252. If you need to, you can download the latest version of QuickFile for Outlook from here.

Open the QuickFile screen by clicking on QuickFile or Find & Goto on the ribbon.

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Right click over any folder in the Best section.

Click Show Subfolders in Search Results.

The setting will be saved for you and used in all future searches. You can changes it by repeating the steps above.

Please let us know if you find this feature useful by leaving a comment below.

New to QuickFile: Click QuickFile for Outlook Version 5 for more information on the easiest way to file and find your emails in Outlook.

Removing Suggestions in QuickFile Version 5

By standss · Comments ( 0 ) Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

Folder recommendations in QuickFile are significantly more accurate in QuickFile Version 5. However there may be cases where you want to remove a suggestion (e.g. if you accidentally used a folder).

Step by Step

Open the QuickFile screen by clicking on QuickFile or Find & Goto on the ribbon.

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Right click over any folder in the Best section.

Click Remove from Best.

If the suggestion was for this particular contact or conversation, it will be removed from the list of suggestions.

New to QuickFile: Click QuickFile for Outlook Version 5 for more information on the easiest way to file and find your emails in Outlook.

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Saving (Exporting) Outlook emails with your other files

By standss · Comments ( 0 ) Friday, May 16th, 2014

Here’s a quick tip on how you can save one or more emails outside of Outlook. This is very useful if you want to save your emails on your harddisk in Client folders along with Word files etc.

Step-by-step

Go to the folder (inside Outlook) that has the emails.

Select the email you want to export out of Outlook (You can also select multiple emails by holding down the CTRL button on the keyboard and then clicking on the emails).

Click File-Save As.

Enter a filename.

Choose a format from the drop-down.

Click Save.

What format should you use?

The two common formats that you can use are:

Outlook Message Format (msg): This creates a copy of the entire emails outside Outlook for you and has any attachments etc still as part of the email. This only works when you are exporting single emails. You will also need to have Outlook to view the message in the future.

Text Only (txt): This creates a plain text file (all formatting and attachments are removed). This option is also available when you try to export multiple emails… all emails are put in the one text document with header information (date/sender/recipient/Subject) clearly identifying each email.

What about exporting to PDF?

Outlook cannot export directly to PDF format. However if you are using QuickFile for Outlook-Ultimate Edition<http://www.standss.com/quickfile>, you can export all or selected emails from any folder into a PDF file. The PDF file will have a clickable table of contents (list of emails in date order) at the top and will also have links to all attachments.

On the QuickFile section of the Ribbon, click More Actions-Export Emails.

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White-listing: How to STOP emails from going to the Outlook Junk Mail folder

By standss · Comments ( 0 ) Thursday, May 15th, 2014

Do you find that you are missing taking action on important emails because Outlook is wrongly classifying them as SPAM and moving them to the Junk Email folder? Maybe you’re not getting support emails from us or another company.

Here’s what you can do to tell Outlook that emails from a particular person or domain are safe.

Outlook has a Safe Senders list. Once you add someone to the safe-senders list, their emails will always go to the Inbox despite what the SPAM filter thinks of it.

To add an email address or domain to the Safe Senders list.

Right click over an email in your Inbox.

Click Junk

If this email is from the sender that you want to add to your Safe Senders list then click on Never Block Sender or Never Block Senders Domain.

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If you want to add a different email address or domain to the Safe Senders list, then click Junk E-mail Options.

Click on the Safe Senders tab.

(Optional: You can also tick the Also trust email from my Contacts and Automatically add people I email to the Safe Sender List check boxes if you want) Click Add.

Enter the email address (e.g. support@standss.com<mailto:support@standss.com>) or domain (standss.com) and then click OK.

Click OK again to return to Outlook.

This tip is particularly useful for emails from companies that you contact for support e.g.we recently found that our support emails were ending up in some users Junk Email folders. This can be very frustrating when you’re waiting for your new license information or additional information for software that you have just purchased.

We recommend that you add the domains standss.com and addins4outlook.com to your Safe Send lists now.

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