4 Tips to Tame Email without Multi-Tasking

By standss · Comments ( 0 ) Monday, July 4th, 2016


Studies clearly show that people who do not multi-task can focus for longer periods of time and feel also less stressed. But emails makes it difficult to NOT multi-task, particularly if you get notified each time an email comes in. This post shows you 4 things you need to can do to be more productive with emails without multi-tasking.

Turn OFF email Notifications

Be default Outlook displays a little notification in the bottom right hand corner of your screen every time an email comes in. It may also play a sound or show a little envelope icon in the taskbar.

Unless your work requires real-time notification of emails, we recommend that you turn off ALL email notifications.

Click File and then Options.

Click on the mail tab.

Scroll down to the Mail Arrival section and make sure that all the boxes are un-ticked as shown below.


Have Email Processing Scheduled in Your Calendar

Try and have a fixed time where you go through your Inbox and delete out stuff that doesn’t need to be there, respond to important emails etc.

This is your main email time during the day. Don’t worry… you will still get to see emails again later in the day.

Download our free 3 Question Checklist to evaluate your own Outlook Email Filing System

Turn off Outlook when doing non-email related work

Many users turn to emails looking for a distraction when they are at a point in their work that is difficult or requires a decision. They turn to their Inbox hoping to find an excuse to avoid what they really need to work on.

You’re less likely to do this if your Outlook is closed… and even if you do, the time Outlook takes to start up will remind you to go back to your work.

Reward yourself by going to your Inbox when you finish a reasonable chunk of work… or when you finish a particular piece of work

Even if email is a distraction, a lot of real work gets done using it.

I go back to my Inbox roughly around once every one or two hours. This give me my email-fix as well as giving me the opportunity to respond to anything important that may have come up while I was doing other work.

Try these 4 quick tips today. They won’t solve all your email problems but they will put you more in control. You should find you’re getting more work done, feeling less stressed and still getting your emails answered.


Fixing speed problems in Outlook by Working Offline.

By standss · Comments ( 1 ) Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

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:

  1. Go to Outlook
  2. Click Send/Receive on the Ribbon and then click Work Offline.


  1. Work on your emails
  2. 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?

  1. 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!!).
  2. 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)
  3. 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.

Categories : Office Tip, Outlook Performance Comments ( 1 )

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.


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.

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).


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 )

8 Simple tips for Email Management in Microsoft Outlook

By standss · Comments ( 0 ) Thursday, June 5th, 2014

During the recent launch of our newest QuickFile for Outlook addin, we carried out survey’s and also spoke to a few readers and customers personally to find out if they needed help with filing and retrieving emails. This is what I found out…

Many users still do NOT have a system for filing their emails. Even users who KNEW they needed a system were not using one … They either don’t have the time or enough information to get started.

The top 3 reasons reported by users for not implementing an email management system are:

Reason #1: Outlook’s built-in automatic filing tools (Rules and Auto-Archive) don’t seem to move things logically for me!

I agree 100%! That’s why in tips #1 and #2 of this upcoming blog post tips series I advise you to turn these features OFF. We’re going to show you an easier way… that still does not need anything outside Outlook or learning a new software.

Reason #2: I don’t have the time.

I think a reader said it best…

When should I file? If I am busy with work then e-mails just build up, if I am busy with e-mails, my work does not get done. (John)

In the next few weeks we’re going to introduce to you a system that takes very little extra time but still gets all your filing done. In the next few weeks, we’ll show you some additional tips to bring the time down to (almost) zero.

Reason #3: How should I structure my email management system… there seems to be so many different ways of doing this.

I like to keep things as simple as possible so I normally recommend to my clients… Create a folder structure inside Outlook that matches the way you file your paper documents. It makes it much easier to find emails (or for that matter anything) later if they’re all filed using the same system.

You can create and use a simple email management system TODAY… with nothing more than Outlook.  This system is already being used by thousands of our customers around the world.  Let’s get started…

In the next few weeks, I will be providing step-by-step instructions for a VERY SIMPLE email management system that will work for any businessperson who works with clients, projects or cases.  Use these simple tips to:

  1. Ensure that your Outlook data file does not get bloated, slow-down and eventually corrupt itself and die (causing possible loss of some if not all your e-mails
  2. Backup the correct Outlook data files in case of hardware failure
  3. Organize your emails so that your E-mail Folders matches your paper filing structure
  4. File your e-mails in a way that lets you quickly see all correspondence (incoming, out-going, to and from anyone) for a project quickly and easily in one place
  5. Get some control over your e-mails and use your Inbox like a proper In-tray holding only the items that need your attention.
  6. Easily archive e-mails for completed projects with other electronic documents (Word files, Excel files etc) for the same project.
  7. Quickly find specific e-mails for a project.

By now you all must be wondering if this is going to be a
FREE tips series or will you have to pay to join?

The tips that I will be sharing with you in the next few weeks has been shared to me by YOU so how can it be charged, therefore this is an absolutely FREE tips series.

I will be posting the tips on this blog in the order that I feel would give you a simple and efficient email management system so I recommend that you go through the tips in the order in which they are presented as they build on each other.

If you have not subscribed to our blog yet, JOIN US today so we can notify you when we post the tips on our blog.

Whats next?

In Tip #1 and #2 next week, I will be showing you why you should not be using Outlook’s Auto-Archiving and Rules feature and how to turn it OFF.

Till then… Have a Better Outlook.


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

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.

Blog image 2

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.

blog image

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.


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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How to Cure Email Overload (Video)

By standss · Comments ( 0 ) Thursday, April 10th, 2014

Instead of our regular blog posts, we are creating a series of 3 video posts to solve what our 30,000+ blog readers tell us is there #1 problem… TOO MUCH EMAIL!

You can watch the first two (short) videos here:

*   Video #1: How to Cure Email Overload

*   Video #2: A Focused Inbox to Get Things Done

These videos are free for the moment.

You will need to opt-in to see the video (as always we respect your privacy and will NEVER share your email with anyone).

We’re asking for your email again so we know who to send the PDF version of How to Cure Email Overload to… as soon as the video course is complete.

Once you have seen the videos, please let us know if there is any question you want answered in the third and final video.

Best Regards,

Your Outlook Team at Standss

PS: The videos may be taken down and converted into a paid training course later. Watch it now.


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