Need to make sure that you get something done… EMAIL YOURSELF! This works much better for me then putting it on a Task List. Why? Like many people my Inbox acts as my real (or at least more immediate) Task List.
Here are some ways to get the most out of this super easy tip.
- Basic Way: Just Email yourself when you need to remember to do something.
- Need to follow up on an email that you are sending out to a client: BCC yourself on the email and a copy will end up in your Inbox.
- From your BlackBerry or other email-enabled phone: This is my FAVOURITE. It means that I can update my To Do List from anywhere… I’m at the supermarket and remember that I need to call a client on Monday… easy… I create and send an email from my phone… and I can get back to chasing my 4 year old down the candy aisle.
Did you find this tip useful? Do you have your own creative ways of applying this tip. Leave a comment on the blog.
Do you need to arrange a meeting with someone in another time zone? Or maybe you are traveling and need to know the time at home and at your temporary destination.
Here’s a super simple tip to viewing two time-zones in your Outlook Calendar.
Display your Calendar in Outlook (either Day or Week view).
Right-Click over any of the time labels on the left hand corner to display the pop-up menu. (see big red dot in picture)
Click on Change Time Zone to display the Time Zone settings screen.
Tick the “Show a second time zone” checkbox and enter the rest of the settings.
Click OK .
Your Calendar will now be displayed with both time zones.
You can choose to leave both time zones displayed or turn one off once you’re done by following the steps above (by clearing the tick next to “Show a second time zone”).
I think Outlook’s Junk Email Folder does a fantastic job of keeping spam out of my Inbox but … occasionally real emails end up there. Here’s a quick tip to reduce the number of emails that get incorrectly moved to the Junk Email folder.
Outlook has a Safe Sender’s list. Outlook knows that anyone who is on your Safe Sender’s list is authorised to send you email.
It makes sense (most of the time) that anyone you actually write to should automatically be put on your safe sender’s list.
The ability to do this is built into Outlook but is turned off by default. To turn it on…
- Go to your Inbox.
- If you are using Outlook 2010, (on the ribbon) click File–Junk–Junk E-mail Options
For other versions of Outlook, (on the menu) click Actions – Junk Email – Junk Email Options
- Click the Safe Senders tab.
- Tick the checkbox “Automatically add people I e-mail to the Safe Senders List”.
- Click OK.
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.
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.
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
Do you have an unconscious habit of going to your Inbox too many times in a day? Do you find yourself clicking Send&Receive many times a day, I know I did. In this post I share what I found were the causes of the habit (for me) and a simple solution that has worked exceptionally well for me.
Why is this a bad habit?
For me… I was finishing the day feeling like I had accomplished little… despite being busy for most of the day… which is another way of saying that I had wasted my day doing unimportant work.
So… why do we check emails so often?
My personal experience… I think that the main reasons are BOREDOM or DIFFICULTY. Some self-analysis revealed that most of my unintended expeditions to my Inbox were when:
- I was bored of what I was doing and was hoping to find something more interesting to work on in my Inbox… or
- The work I was involved in had come to a point which required a difficult decision… and I was hoping to find something easier to do in my Inbox… something to help me avoid the difficult decision.
When you see it in writing, it’s pretty clear that they are not valid reasons for checking email. The problem is that they become habits… I was doing it without even realising it.
How I cured myself (or at least got an acceptable level of control over it)
Here’s a process that has worked very well for me.
- Check your emails and respond to whatever you need to.
- Decide on what you will work on next 40 minutes (or until the task is complete)
- Close Outlook (unless you need to access your emails to do your work)
- Do you work!
After 40 minutes… take break and REPEAT.
The first week I tried this was amazing. I got more done in the first few hours of Monday than I used to get done in the first few days of the week.
Why did this work for me?
Having Outlook closed while I am focussing on a project makes it much harder to check my email without conscious effort. Finding Outlook closed reminds me that I am working on something else and helps break the unconscious habit… it is much harder to click on the Send & Receive button when Outlook is closed (the normally annoying Outlook start-up time turns out to be useful habit-breaker in this situation).
I know that many productivity gurus say that we should only check our emails a few times a day and possibly schedule email time into our calendars. That does NOT work for me…. firstly because of the nature of my work… and because I like checking my email.
Using this method I can get good productive work done throughout the day… and also respond to my team and customers in a timely manner… and indulge my email habits.
Please tell if this method works for you by leaving a comment on the blog.
I thought I’d start this week’s blog posts on a short post on one of the most important part of emails… the Subject line. This is particularly important if you are using a tool like EmailMerge for Outlook to send out sales/marketing emails. Using inaccurate (or worse misleading) Subject lines in your emails can have positive or negative consequences.
The right Subject line can help you get a better response rate
How do you decide which emails in your Inbox need to be read now and which ones can wait till later (possibly forever as they slide further down your Inbox)?
Most people take a quick look at the sender and the Subject line. If you are a VIP to them, chances are they will open your email. Otherwise… Your Subject Line must relate to an important matter or at least an interesting matter… it must get your reader’s attention
And remember… interesting does not have to mean important… everyone looks for distractions during the day when we take breaks…. get the reader’s attention with your Subject line!
But before you try and make your Subject lines too interesting…
Misleading Subject Lines are against the CAN-SPAM Act
Your subject line, while needing to be interesting enough to get the reader’s attention, must accurately reflect the content of your message. Otherwise you could be getting yourself into some legal trouble… or at least banned to people’s junk mail folders.