Emails are often sent out to large lists of recipients to announce information. Unnecessary Reply-Alls to the same emails can be both annoying and expensive for organizations as recipients waste valuable time reading and responding to useless emails.
Here’s a quick checklist of when you should and should not do a Reply All. You may also want to share this post with colleagues who are annoying you with unnecessary reply-alls to group emails.
Here’s the list.
Do NOT use Reply-All to acknowledge receipt or say Thank You
Not everyone on the list needs to know that you specifically have received the email.
And unless the sender has specifically asked for acknowledgement, you probably don’t need to say Received or Thank You. Chances are that if the original email out to many people, the sender doesn’t want his or her Inbox filled with hundreds of Thank Yous.
In the rare case where an acknowledgement is appropriate, please click Reply instead of Reply-All. This way only the original sender is notified.
DO a Reply-All if the email is a discussion or if you are adding information that applies to all recipients
If the email is a discussion, then it makes sense to do a Reply All. However even if it is a discussion, you should only do a Reply All if your information adds additional information. Don’t just reply with an “agreed”.
The rare case where a short Agreed or Yes or No is appropriate where you need to let everyone (and not just the original sender) know your opinion.
Do NOT berate anyone or complain about others in a group email
That almost never ends well!
Even if you are correct, you have probably caused unnecessary embarrassment to a colleague. Your comments could easily become watercooler gossip and affect your long-term relationship with the affected person.
If you absolutely need to berate anyone then either send them an email personally (which I still do not recommend because emails can make what you mean sound much worse) or pick up the phone or (best of all) do it in person.
Similar rules also apply if you need to complain about someone else’s behaviour. In most cases, a one-to-one email to the appropriate person, a phone call or an in-person meeting works best.
Prevention is Better Than Cure
Unfortunately, It is too easy to accidentally do a Reply-All when you didn’t mean to… the Reply and Reply-All buttons are right next to each other. If Reply-All is a problem for you or your organization, you may want to look at some additional protection such as ReplyGuard for Outlook.
Reply-Guard installs inside Outlook is already used by thousands of users in companies of all size around the world. It also has additional features for control and deployment in large organizations.
Are you going to Rio or watching the 2016 Olympics on TV? Make sure that you don’t miss your favourite events by keeping an updated schedule of the games in Outlook.
Rio de Janeiro 2016 5th August – 21st August schedules can be downloaded and linked to your Outlook using the instructions below:
- Click on the link below : http://icalshare.com/calendars/7480
- Once you are on the ical share website you can click on “Subscribe to Calendar”
- If you are using “Google Chrome” than click on “Launch Application”
- or If you are using “Internet Explorer” than click on “Allow”.
4. Outlook Should now be giving you a prompt to “Add this Internet Calendar to Outlook and Subscribe to updates”.
5. Once you click “Yes” it will link to your Outlook and update Automatically if any changes are made to the schedules:
The calendar is updated frequently and includes most of the events taking place in the 2016 Olympics, You can also view the games timetable online: Rio Olympics 2016 Web Schedule.
Do you know where your emails are saved? Are you sure they’re being backed up? You may be surprised to find out that your emails are not where you expect them to be.
In this post, I’ll show you how you can find out where your Outlook data is stored so that you can ensure that they are actually part of your backup plan.
How does Outlook save emails on your computer?
Outlook does NOT save each email as a separate file. Instead it saves all the emails into one PST file (or if you’re using Exchange or Office 365… one OST file).
All your emails are in one file. If you lose that one file, you lose all your emails!
- That’s not strictly true because you can have multiple files e.g. one for old emails and one for current emails, but the general idea still applies. Your emails are stored in a few files and if you lose one file, you will lose hundreds or even thousands of emails.
It is important that you know where these files so that you can back them up regularly.
Where are Outlook’s data files stored?
Depending on the version of Outlook you are using (and whether you are using POP3, IMAP, Exchange or Office 365), Outlook will save your data in either Documents folder or the hidden appdata folder.
Luckily it is easy to find where.
In Outlook 2010 or later, click the File tab, then click Info in the left pane. Select Account Settings and then Account Settings again. Then click the Data Files tab.
In Outlook 2007 and older versions, click Tools – Options on the command bar. Then click the Data Files tab.
All your data files will be listed as shown in the diagram.
Make sure that you back them up regularly and your emails will be safe.
This 5 minute video shows you how to use Microsoft Outlook to keep your emails organized.
You will see how easy it is to do the 3 ESSENTIAL email filing tasks that all business people need to do.
In less than 5 Minutes you will learn how to:
- Find folders by typing a few characters from the folders name
- File 90% of received emails at the click of one button (no misfiled emails because of drag and drop)
- Send & File out-going emails in one step (instead of having to go back to the Sent Items folder to file your emails later)
In this article we look at why many professionals who use Outlook prefer to have two copies of Sent Emails (one in a client/project folder and one in the Sent Items folder). We also show you how to configure QuickFile so that it will Send & Copy File the email for you in one step.
Most power users of emails create Project or Client folders inside Outlook and then move their emails inside them. They do this for both received emails and sent emails so that they can see all related emails in one place. But many users treat Inbox and Sent emails slightly differently.
How to file Inbox Emails (Move them!!!)
The Inbox acts as a To do List for most people. It makes sense to leave emails in there while they still need your attention.
Once you have finished with an email, you can either delete it or move it to the relevant project/client folder.
That way your Inbox only shows you what you need to work on
How to file Sent Emails (Move or Copy)
There are two schools of thought on what to do with Sent Emails. You could move the original email out of the Sent Items folder to the Project or Client folder but…
We have found that many users prefer to file a copy to the Project/Client folder and leave a copy in the Sent Items too.
- Users frequently need to refer to emails that they sent recently (to clarify things on phone calls etc). They find it easier to quickly look at the Sent Items folder instead of going to a client folder.
- Many users fill in their timesheets for billing purposes at the end of the day. They refer to the Sent Items folder to remind themselves of what they worked on (and what they need to bill for)
How to make QuickFile to Send & Copy
The Send&File feature is probably the #1 Reason that our users choose QuickFile.
QuickFile for Outlook prompts you with a prompt similar to the following when you click Send on an email.
QuickFile recommends folders using its own recommendation engine or you can use the Search box to quickly select another folder.
You can also choose to either file the original email or a copy of the email as shown above.
Click Send & File and the email is filed automatically when it is sent.
(You don’t have to go to the Sent Items folder at the end of day to file your emails because they’re done already. No more incomplete client folders!)
How to configure QuickFile to Send & Copy by default
You can use QuickFile’s setting screen so that it selects “Copy of Email” by default.
Go to your Inbox
Click the Standss Outlook Addins tabs on the Outlook ribbon.
Click More in the QuickFile group and then click Settings.
Select “File a copy of email to folder” for the Send & File dropdown.
Now whenever QuickFile displays the Send & File screen, copy will be select by default. This means that in most cases (because QuickFile normally recommends the correct folder too), you only have to click Send & File.
I had lunch with a friend who is a lawyer a few days ago. He explained to me why he still thinks it is important to file emails into folders dedicated to different clients or cases. In this post, I’d like to share his opinion… and a few suggestions on making the filing of emails easier.
Why… and associated problems?
For legal reasons, my lawyer friend often replies to emails simply to acknowledge receipt e.g. He may reply to an email and simply add “Noted” at the top.
He then needs to retain a record of the email in his own records.
The standard way of doing this is printing and filing a copy away (I am frequently surprised by how many lawyers still maintain printed records of everything!).
The problem he was having was that his printed files were become way to big… and had a lot of duplicated information (when he printed out the email with Noted on it, it could run several pages depending on the size of the original email).
Here are two possible solutions that we discussed.
1) Print Replies without Printing out all of the original email
Instead of printing out the whole email, just print out the first page. You can do this in Outlook by clicking the Print button and then clicking Print Options to select the pages you want to Print.
2) Keep only electronic copies of all (or less important) emails
Instead of printing out emails, you can file the emails electronically inside Outlook. If you have been doing this already you may want to evaluate your Outlook email filing system with this 3 questions checklist.
If you haven’t been doing this so far, we recommend the following steps:
1. Create a folder structure inside Outlook that is similar to what you use for your paper folders. This will make your emails easier to find in the future because you already know where to look for them.
2. File received emails AND sent emails for the project/case/client into the folder. You want to see all related emails in one place… and not have to look for some emails in project folders, other emails in the Sent Items folder etc.
3. If you still want to retain printed emails, then only print out the emails with new information on them and use our earlier tip to only print out the relevant pages
If emails are important to your business you may also want to look at QuickFile for Outlook. QuickFile works adds a few buttons inside Outlook and is able to file up to 90% of your emails at the click of one button.
I hope you found this post useful in making your emails easier to file and find.
If you are like me, you probably read most of your emails in the reading pane (which displays your emails right there in your Inbox). The problem is that sometimes emails get marked unread just because I scrolled through them on my way to another email. I would prefer to keep that email highlighted so that I know that it still needs my attention.
Here are links to two posts that I think you will find useful if you have a similar problem.
Keep Outlook Emails as Unread until after you actually read them
This post will keep the email UNREAD unless you stop over the email for more than just a few seconds (you can set how long)
Customize how Outlook highlights Unread Emails
This post is optional but you can use to change how unread emails are displayed. You can change the color or font to make them really stand out.
If you have other ideas on how to use Unread emails to get things done, let us know by leaving a comment.
I have received many emails from concerned customers and readers asking me if we were safe when Category 5 Cyclone Winston hit Fiji. I have personally written to thank everyone who wrote but in case I missed someone, your kind thoughts mean a lot to us.
In this post I’ll share how the cyclone affected Fiji and what our team are doing to help.
For those who don’t know, even though the majority of our customers are based in USA, UK, Europe and other parts of the world, we are actually based in the beautiful islands of Fiji.
On 20th February, our islands were hit by the strongest tropical cyclone to make landfall over Fiji on record. In fact, we found out later that it is the second strongest cyclone to have been recorded to had made landfall anywhere in the world.
Cyclone Winston has been classified as a Category 5 storm. Wind gusts of 306 km/h (190 mph) were recorded.
Our company is based in Suva, the capital city. While the cyclone was originally expected to go through Suva, we were spared when the storm changed course.
There was some rain and wind damage but it was small compared to what happened elsewhere in Fiji.
Cyclone Winston inflicted extensive damage on many islands and so far 44 people have been confirmed dead. It is estimated that approximately 40% of Fiji’s population has been significantly affected by the storm.
The response from people in Fiji and the International community has been amazing. Many Governments have provided money, supplies and people to assist those in need.
People who were not affected directly in the main centers have also mobilised themselves and done their best to reach people in affected areas with rations and supplies.
I went out with some friends the week after the cyclone to do the same. The following photo is an area that was previously green rain forest. The pictures in this post speak for themselves and show just how ferocious the winds must have been.
The team at Standss knows how lucky we were. Things could have been much worse for us personally and for our country if the major populated areas such as Suva and Nadi had been hit.
We have set aside a minimum $10,000 to donate to various charities in Fiji who are leading the relief efforts.
50% of this has already been handed over to Save the Children Fiji who have been chosen as one of the lead organizations to assist in getting children back into school as quickly as possible.
We know that will be a difficult task as many schools have been severely damaged. In addition to that many children have lost all their school supplies.
It is essential that children get back to school as soon as possible. The educational benefits are obvious but being back in school also has other benefits. Children get those hours to be in a safe environment… to be with their friends… to be children.
We wish Save the Children Fiji the very best with this important and difficult task.
I want to finish off with a final picture. During our trip to the affected areas we also took a few bags of lollipops to distribute to the kids (I know that it’s not good for them but a small treat after the trauma won’t do any harm).
The cyclone may have set us back but it won’t take away the Fijian smiles that our country is famous for.
As we now say in Fiji… We are Stronger Than Winston.
I’d like to finish by saying thank you to all our customers. We are only able to give back to our community because of your support.
Thank you for giving us the ability to help others in this time of need.
The theme for this month has been email filing and clean inboxes. This week we look at the three common mistakes that result in lost emails and cluttered Inboxes.
Over the last 15 years we have helped thousands of Outlook users get their emails organized and their Inboxes clean.
In this time we have learnt that the main reasons that Outlook users fail to keep their emails organized can be traced to these 3 common mistakes.
1. Filing emails before they have been actioned (or why you shouldn’t use Rules)
Most emails that we get are either for our information or action. Many users in an effort to get organized move emails out of the Inbox to dedicated folders for clients or projects… before the required action is completed.
The problem with this is because of the volume of emails that we all receive on a daily basis, the emails are quickly forgotten and the actions never taken.
What can you do?
Only move an email out of the Inbox if It does not require any action from you (in which case you either delete it or move it out to an archive/client/project folder).
a. You have completed the required action on it (E.g. replied to the email with the information requested)
b. It requires action from you and you have added the action to some kind of action list e.g. your Calendar or Task List.
Tip: This is why we don’t recommend using Rules for filing emails. Rules move emails out of the Inbox before you’ve had a chance to read them.
Instead we recommend using QuickFile for Outlook (for folder based email filing) or Email Tags for Outlook (for tag based filing) which can file most of your emails out of your Inbox at the click of one button… after you have finished reading them.
2. Leaving emails that do not require action in the Inbox
Leaving too many emails in your Inbox can also be a problem, particularly if you use your Inbox to show you what you still need to work on. Too many emails will cause actual work emails to get drowned out… and quickly move off the list.
Ironically, the problem isn’t the emails that you know you have to work on.
The BIG problem is the emails that you think you may work on… when you get the time. These include things people have sent to you for your information, newsletters on things you used to be interested in etc.
Instead of moving them out of the Inbox, we tend to leave them there… for when (???) we have a bit of free time.
What can you do?
I would recommend one of the following:
a. Either flag all emails that actually need your actual action so that they stand out…
b. Or Move out emails that do not need your actual action into another folder called Maybe.
I personally prefer the option of moving emails out of the Inbox because I am less likely to be distracted by maybe tasks. This really helps me to stay focussed on what I need to work on.
Now when I have some free time, I go to my Maybe folder.
Confession: I very rarely go to the MayBe folder. It has thousands of emails in it… and my life is probably much better for not having read them.
3. Forgetting to file Sent Emails
Why do we even bother filing emails (as opposed to simply deleting them once we have read them and taken the appropriate action).
The main reason is that we may need to refer to them later for information. We also need to retain them for legal reasons in case there is some dispute about what was written at some point in time in the future.
… and we normally don’t need just the one email. We need all related emails… incoming and outgoing.
Irrespective of how you organize your emails, it is very useful to file related incoming and outgoing emails together. That way you can see the entire conversation in one place when you need to.
What can you do?
a. Setup a daily or weekly time at which you will file emails out of your Sent Items folder or…
Bonus Tip: Make sure that you file your emails in the way that works best for you
The ultimate purpose of any email filing system is to make it easy for you to find the emails again when you need them.
There are two main ways of filing emails… using folders and tags.
Which method works best for you will depend on several factors, including how your printed files (if you still use them) are organized.
I recommend that you read our earlier post Outlook Email Filing: Folders or Tags to ensure that you are using the best filing system for you… the one that makes your emails easier to find in the least time.
In this post I look at the two main ways of organizing emails… Folders and Tags. We will look at the advantages and disadvantages of each one so that you can decide which one works best for you.
We will also look at a couple of Outlook addins that you can use for each style of email management if you don’t want to do it all manually.
But before that…
What do we need from any email organization system?
Irrespective of the way we organize our emails, this is what we need.
1. We want to easily see which emails still need our attention.
2. We want to file away emails that we have finished with but need to refer to in the future. Ideally sent and received emails for a project/client etc should be in the same place so you can see them all together.
3. We want to quickly find and retrieve any one filed email or a group of filed emails.
4. We want to do all this without wasting our day shuffling emails around.
Organizing emails either in Folders or with Tags can meet 3 of the above requirements and you can use the addins that we mention below to do it to meet the last requirement.
Let’s look at each of the two methods now…
Method #1: Emails and Folders
The first way of filing that most people use in Outlook is Folders i.e. create folders inside Outlook and then file emails into these folders.
This method works well for most users because most of us are used to folders in the physical world. As a result, this paradigm is easy to understand.
Furthermore, Outlook was designed with folders in mind. It is easy to create folders quickly inside Outlook and then drag and drop emails into them.
Tip: If you have a system of paper folders in the physical world, we recommend that you create a similar folder structure inside Outlook. Having the same structure in both places makes is extremely easy to find emails when you need them.
The problem with folders is that is can be time consuming and error prone to move emails. It is easy to accidentally drop an email into the wrong folder… or to forget to file emails from the Sent Emails folder… and it can be cumbersome to locate folders once you have a lot of folders. Unless…
Automating Folder Filing in Outlook
QuickFile adds a few buttons inside Outlook for you. It recommends folders based on your previous actions. You will be able to file up to 90% of your emails to the correct folder at the click of one button.
It also prompts you (with a recommendation) when you send out emails so that sent emails are automatically filed in the correct folder.
There is a handy Search feature so that you can quickly locate any folder simply by typing a few characters from the folder name.
Users have reported to getting back up to 2 hours each week that was previously lost to email.
Method #2: Tagging Emails
Tagging basically involved tagging (or marking) an email with one or more keywords. The tagged emails can then be moved out of the Inbox to an archive folder.
You can think of tags as being similar to folders… without actually needing to create folders… or you can think of tags as keywords.
You may already have used tags to organize photos (or to organize emails inside Gmail where tags are called labels).
The great thing is that each email can have multiple tags (no more worrying about which folder the email goes into)… and you can easily see all emails with a particular tag when you need to.
Outlook’s built-in search can then be used to find the emails that you have tagged with specific keywords.
The problem with Tags however is that there is no built-in way to do it easily inside Outlook. It is difficult to tag emails and difficult to find them easily later… until now.
Automating Tagging in Outlook
Email Tags for Outlook is a powerful addin that works inside Outlook. It saves time and ensures that emails are tagged correctly by recommending tags (A list of tags is also automatically maintained).
It can automatically move your tagged emails out of your Inbox to an archive folder so that your Inbox only shows you what you still need to work on.
Email Tags can also tag outgoing emails so that they are automatically organized with your received emails.
Best of all it has a powerful search feature to locate your tagged emails later.
How to choose what works best for YOU!
It depends on that nature of your work!
If you are already used to Tags then tagging emails should work well for you, particularly when used with Email Tags for Outlook.
Other people may find Folders easier because it mirrors the concept of folders in the paper world that we have all grown used to.
In our experience Folders work particularly well for people who work with well-defined projects.
We already have thousands of Lawyers, Engineers, Architects etc. using QuickFile for Outlook to save hours of billable time each month that was previously lost managing Outlook email folders.
We hope this post helps you make the right choice to have a more organized and productive Outlook.
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