Is you Inbox full of emails that you don’t want to work on but you don’t want to delete either? Here’s a tip on how you can keep them in your Inbox and remove them at the same time. Confused? Read on.
My general strategy to Get Things Done is to only keep emails in my Inbox that I actually need to work on. However..
There are many emails in my Inbox that I know that I won’t be working on today… or even this week. I don’t want to delete them because I (maybe) will work on them someday.
Here’s a simple thing I do weekly that helps me have a clean Inbox to work from… and still keep those unurgent emails around.
I will show you two ways of doing things… a manual way and an automated way using eemnders for Outlook.
1) The Automated Way
Once a week I do a Weekly Review.
I look at the emails and decide what I will work on this week. Those emails get to stay in my Inbox. The others get moved out.
I use eeminders for Outlook to move emails out of the Inbox. I’ll show you the steps in a minute but basically…
eeminders installs inside Outlook lets me select emails to “defer” or “snooze” to a date and time of my choosing. The selected emails get moved out of your Inbox but then magically reappear on your chosen date and time.
You can use eeminders to snooze your non-urgent emails for a week using the following steps.
Go to your Inbox.
Select the emails that you want to move out (press the CTRL button to select multiple emails if you want).
Right-Click over one of the emails and then click eemind me – 1 Week.
The selected emails will get moved out of your Inbox into another folder called eeminders. A week later they come back into my Inbox.
Why I like this?
- I don’t have to think too hard and the process is FAST. It’s not like I am deleting the emails. It is easy to identify emails that I won’t be working on this week.
- The emails will come back into the Inbox so I WON’T FORGET THEM! Chances are that in next week’s weekly review, I am just going to defer them for another week but that’s OK. At least I won’t forget them.
- In case I run out of things or change my mind, I can always go to the eeminders folder and retrieve an emails that I need to work on.
2) Doing this Manually
(In case you skipped it, please read the Automated Way above first to understand the idea of the Weekly Review)
You could also do this manually by creating a folder and calling it something like Next Week. Then when you do your Weekly Review:
- Go to the Next Week folder and drag any emails that you plan to work on this week into your Inbox.
- Go to your Inbox folder and drag any emails that you do not plan to work on this week to the Next Week Folder.
My own experience (and the experience of many many Outlook users who we work with) is that the manual method requires too much will-power and discipline and after a while we stop doing it.
I have been using eeminders in this way for the last 3 months and my Inbox has been a joy 🙂 to work from.
The majority of the emails that you send will be read on Smart Phones and tablets. That means you could be missing out on important business if your emails are not displaying correctly on mobile devices.
In this post we look at things you MUST do to ensure that your emails are displayed correctly on computers, tablets and most importantly smart phones.
Stats say 55% of email is now opened on a mobile device (Litmus “Email Analytics” -March 2016) and the numbers are expected to increase. In fact it is already up 500% since 2010.
Here are 3 quick and easy things you can do in Outlook to ensure that your emails look right, get read and most importantly get responded to.
- Use a BIGGER font size
Mobile device screens are small and you need to make sure that your text can be read easily. We recommend a minimum font size of 14 pts for body text.
- Use a dark text color (Black) on a light background (White)
Don’t get too creative with your font colors and backgrounds. Dark text on a light background usually works best.
It is readable in most conditions…like in bright sunlight. It is also readable if users have turned down the brightness of their screens to save battery life.
- Don’t use too many images
You can’t assume that your images will be displayed because many mobile operating systems (e.g. Android) turn images off by default.
Users often don’t download images in order to save data.
We recommend that you add images for effect but still write emails that convey your full message even if the images were turned off.
4th (Bonus) Tip: Write what is important at the top of the email
People often use their mobiles for “pruning” their emails before doing the real reading and responding on their computers.
Make sure you make your point quickly or your email could be deleted and never actually re-read on the desktop.
5th (Bonus) Tip: RESPOND QUICKLY! Don’t wait for the recipient to reply!
According to lead response management survey, your odds of qualifying a lead in 5 minutes versus 30 minutes drops 21 times.
That’s within the first 30 minutes!
The same survey shows that you have 10x greater chance of just contacting leads if you contact them within the first hour.
We are relooking at all of our Outlook addins for Business to ensure that they continue to serve you in the new era of mobile devices. Next week, we will be making an announcement for Email Merge for Outlook which thousands of Outlook users are using to send out sales and marketing emails to their customers.
In the meantime, please let us know if you have your own tips on making emails more readable on mobile devices by leaving a comment below.
If you find Outlook almost hanging up on you while you are writing emails, this tip will save you from a lot of frustration (and as a bonus increase your focus and productivity).
Does this sound familiar…?
You’re replying to an email and then Outlook starts doing something in the background. It basically locks up! You can’t do anything except wait for it to finish!
After a few moments, you get tired of waiting so you switch over to something that still works on your computer… something to do while you’re waiting… most probably the Internet… or Facebook.
10 minutes later you remember what you were actually working on! That’s 10 minutes wasted just because Outlook started doing something you never asked it to in the first place.
And it’s not just 10 minutes. It normally takes another 10 minutes to get refocussed again.
How many 10 minutes do you lose in your day?
I spend a significant part of my day working on emails and recently I have been having this problem several times a day.
I use Outlook 2013 with Office 365 and I discovered that the problem seems to coincide with when my Outlook is syncing emails with Office 365… particularly when I am working from home where my Internet connection is not as fast.
I found that I can greatly improve my productivity by making Outlook work offline when I plan to do actual work.
This is what you need to do:
- Go to Outlook
- Click Send/Receive on the Ribbon and then click Work Offline.
- Work on your emails
- Make Outlook go back online (by clicking on the Work Offline button again).
Warning: Please remember to make Outlook go online again. While Outlook is offline, no emails will be sent or received. Emails that you send will still be in the Outbox and new emails will be not be received in your Inbox (they will be waiting to be downloaded from your mail server when you go back online).
This simple tip has had a surprisingly positive effect on my productivity. Why?
- It stops Outlook from hanging up so I am able to get what I am working on completed without waiting for Outlook. I don’t get distracted to look at other things (Facebook!!).
- I also don’t get distracted by new emails popping in to the Inbox while I am working on something. (New emails are not downloaded while Outlook is working offline)
- As a bonus I enjoy work more without the frustrations of waiting.
Did this tip help you? Do you have your own tips for fixing Outlook performance issues? Please let us know by leaving a comment below.
A great email signature can help your business by building your image and credibility as well as making it easier for people to contact you. In this short post I look at what things a good signature block can do for you, what you want to put in, and what you should leave out.
The most important thing to remember… Your signature block needs to be as small as possible particularly since so many emails are only a few lines long… but it still has to achieve several objectives.
The objectives of a good signature block
A good signature block should do most if not all of the following for you:
- Let people know who you are
- Let people know how they can contact you
- Show people who may not know you what you or your company does
- If possible, convince people who don’t know you that you are a credible person that they can safely work with
- If you use social media a lot, let them connect you via your preferred social media website.
What you should include:
- Your Name
- Your Title (Optional but very useful, particularly if you have an important or at least important sounding title)
- Your company name
- (Optional) Your company logo
- (Optional) Logo or text details of any awards or memberships that build your credibility. Keep this as short as possible. Don’t list too many things or it loses it’s impact.
- A tag line that makes it easy to understand what you and your company do (Optional only if your company name is immediately recognizable)
- Your Phone Number
- Your web site address
What you do not need to include
Personally I feel that it is a waste of space to include the following:
- Your email address (they already know that sine they received the email from you)
- You fax number (unless you are in an industry/country that still makes use of fax)
- Your postal or physical address (they can always ask for this if they need it)
What do you think?
I hope that you find this article useful.
Do you have your own tips for better email signatures? Please share your ideas with other readers by leaving a comment on this post.
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
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 the Show Options hyperlink.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
- 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.
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?
- For a personal comment or conversation with one of the recipients, particularly if you are bad-mouthing one of the other recipients.
- 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.
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!
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.
- The work that is important for the business does not get done and
- 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).
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.
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
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.
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