Tag Archives: Outlook as a Business Tool

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.

image001

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.

Should you Forward or Redirect emails?

By standss - Comments ( 18 ) Monday, March 16th, 2015

What do you do when you get an email that you know can be better answered by someone else? Chances are you Forward the email. I recently found out about Redirects which are often more appropriate than Forwards. Here’s how to do a redirect and why it may be better than Forward.

When you forward an email to someone, and the person replies, the reply comes back to YOU and not the original sender, so then you’re stuck forwarding it again.

You can avoid being the messenger-in-between by doing a REDIRECT instead of a Forward.

To Redirect an Email in Outlook:

Open the email in its own Window (i.e. you can’t do this if you’re looking at the email in the Reading Pane)

Select the Message Tab and then click Actions (or More Move Actions depending in your version of Outlook).

Click Resend this Message.

The message You do not appear to be the original sender of this message. Are you sure you want to resend it? will be displayed. Click Yes.

Address the email to the person you want to send it to (and type any notes etc. that you want in the email).

Click Send.

What happens when the recipient receives the email and clicks Reply

When the recipient receives the email, it will show that it is from you but on behalf of the original sender.

Now when the he or she clicks Reply, the reply will go to the original sender instead of to you.

Some final thoughts:

If you still want to be included in the reply to the email then I recommend that you use Forward instead of Redirect but remember to CC the original sender of the email too.

However if you just want to pass on the email and then stay out of it, Redirect is the way to go.

Did you know about Redirects (I didn’t)? Do you think they are useful? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

 

 

 

Categories : General, Outlook Email Tips Comments ( 18 )

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).

blog

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 )

Protect your company from wrongly sent emails

By standss - Comments ( 0 ) Monday, February 9th, 2015

The web is full examples of what the dangers to organization due to emails sent to the wrong email address (including one that may have led to a $1B settlement). What are the risks to your organization from these kinds of mistakes, and what you can do to manage those risks? We answer these questions and also look at a solution that several large companies are now implementing.

How do these mistakes occur?

These mistakes typically occur when a user accidentally sends an email to the wrong person. The normal reason for this would be that there may be two people with the same or similar names.

Unfortunately Outlooks Auto Complete list (which generally helps by displaying a list of matching names and email addresses as you begin to type) makes these kinds of mistakes even easier to make.

(Strategy) What can you do to reduce the risks from these kinds of mistakes?

It is probably impossible to eliminate mistakes of this kind altogether. Therefore your organization’s strategy should be based on:

  1. Configuring Outlook to reduce the chances that users will make these mistakes
  2. Be able to show (in the event of litigation etc.) that your organization took reasonable action to prevent mistakes of these kinds

What can you do:

The actual actions you can take include:

  1. Asking users to be more careful and pay more attentions before emails are sent out.
  2. Turning off Microsoft Outlook’s Auto-Complete feature.

While both of the above are theoretically good solutions, they may not work as well in the real world for most organization because:

  1. Irrespective of how careful people are, mistakes are inevitable (it’s part of being human).
  2. Auto-Complete is actually a very useful feature and it is painful and counter-productive to use Outlook without this turned on.

Is there a better solution?

Yes! Send Confirm is an Outlook addin that integrates inside Outlook and automatically prompts for confirmation before emails are sent out.

sendconfirm

The domain is highlighted in red as the greatest damage can be caused if confidential information is sent to the wrong organization.

Send Confirm has been designed with the needs of both small and large companies in mind.

  • The warning prompt can be customized based on corporate/legal guidelines and policies
  • Special filters can be setup to control when the prompt gets displayed (external emails only, all emails etc)
  • All settings can be set and deployed centrally

We’ve actually Send Confirm available to users for several years as part of Send Guard for Outlook. However at the request of several larger organizations, we have now packaged Send Confirm as a separate component to make it more cost-effective for wider deployment in organization.

Please contact us at sales@standss.com for more information on how Send Confirm can be used to protect your organisation.

 

Where are you Outlook emails (are you backing up the RIGHT files)?

By standss - Comments ( 1 ) Monday, January 26th, 2015

Do you know where your emails are saved on your computer?

They may not be where you think they are. Here’s how you can find out where your emails are so that you can be sure that they are part of your backup plan.

Last week at the golf club, I spoke to a frustrated fellow golfer who had just lost all his emails…

The harddisk on his old computer had crashed… and when he used his backups top restore his data to his new computer, he was in for a shock.

His Outlook emails were not there… despite having a well-thought out and implemented plan for backing up his computer.

Because Outlook does not actually ask you to save emails in a particular location, it is easy to forget about them.

Where does Outlook save emails?

If your emails are hosted with Office 365 or MS Exchange then a copy of your current emails will be on your server. Hopefully your network administrator is backing them up.

However, if you are using a POP3 mail account (which many people still are) or if you are archiving emails outside of Exchange, you need to know where your emails are being saved.

All your emails are generally saved in one big data file (PST file… which is short for Personal Storage Table). Unfortunately Outlook does not always create this file in a folder that you would remember to backup.

Some users may also have multiple PST files with additional files for Archives etc.

To find out exactly where all your data files are in Outlook 2010/2013:

  • Click File.
  • On the Info Tab, click Account Settings and then Account Settings again.
  • Click Data Files to display a list of all your currently connected data files as shown below.

image 1

Makes sure that you are backing up all the Outlook data files shown above.

Additional Tip: If you’re not using Exchange, you may want to put your main Outlook PST files in your Documents folder. Assuming that you’re backing up your Documents folder regularly, you should be safe.

Categories : Outlook Data Backup Comments ( 1 )

Free E-book Ready for Download: 8 Simple Tips for Email Management in Outlook

By standss - Comments ( 0 ) Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

As promised… I have compiled all the 8 tips we have discussed over the past several weeks into a simple downloadable and printable PDF copy.

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.

Get your own copy of this FREE e-book now!!!


Next week I will be sharing some additional bonus tips which I feel will help you manage your emails even better… so do check in again.

Till next time… have a safe and better Outlook.

Tip# 8 of 8: File (COPY) the e-mails out of your Sent Items folder

By standss - Comments ( 0 ) Thursday, July 17th, 2014

Welcome back folks to the final tip of the 8 simple tips for email management in Outlook series.

We started of this tips series to overcome a common problem… EMAIL OVERLOAD and I had promised to provide step-by-step instructions for a VERY SIMPLE email management system that will work for any businessperson who works with clients, projects or cases. Following this tips, you should be able 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.

Last week we looked at how to keep a clean and organized Outlook Inbox so it acts like a To-do list rather than a storage space.

Today we will look at organizing your Sent emails because this emails are as important and crucial as your incoming emails.

The e-mails that you write to your clients can be crucial for
clarification and dispute resolution later.

E-mails that you send are moved from the Outbox to the Sent Items folder after they have been sent.

You must move or copy the e-mails that you want to keep for future reference from the Sent Items folder to the appropriate folders in your E-mail Filing System. Any remaining e-mails can be deleted (or left in the Sent Items folder if you want).

Our customers tell us that they prefer to have a copy of the email filed in the relevant project folder and also leave a copy in the Sent Items folder. This enables them to fill in timesheets at the end of the day, quickly answer queries about something sent in the last few days etc.

How do you copy emails instead of moving them?

  • Right-click (instead of Left-click) and then drag and drop.
  • When you drop the email (release the right mouse button) you will get presented with the option to Copy or Move. Click on Copy.

In our experience, Sent e-mails are the Number 1 reason that E-mail Filing Systems fail so… set aside some time periodically (at the end of the day or week) to move these e-mails to the correct folder

This brings us to the end of this 8 Simple Tips for Email Management in Outlook series.

I do hope that you have found this tips useful and hopefully are ruling over your emails rather than the other way around.

This tips have worked for thousands of people and there is no reason why it shouldn’t work for you so if you still haven’t gone through this step by step, here are quick links to all the post.

Tip #1 of 8: Turn Off Auto-Archiving in Outlook
You should archive e-mails as projects are completed. Don’t disorganize yourself by archiving based on dates.

Tip #2 of 8: Think carefully before using Outlook Rules
Rules can cause you to miss taking action on certain e-mails and also filing them into incorrect folders.

Tip #3 of 8: Find out where your Outlook data file is and backup regularly
How can you be sure that your Outlook data is being backed up if you don’t know where it is?

Tip #4 of 8: Split your Outlook data into more than one file
This technique will stop your e-mail file from getting bloated, slow and eventually corrupting itself and dying.

Tip #5 of 8: File your e-mails using the same folder structure as you do for your paper files
Filing e-mails into folders makes it much quicker and easier to file, find and archive e-mails later.

Tip# 6 of 8: Setup Outlook so that it is easy to drag and drop e-mails to the correct folders

Tip# 7 of 8: File things out of your Inbox as soon as you have READ the e-mail

What’s Next…

A lot of our blog readers have requested for a PDF version of the tips so that they are able to recap the tips in one place and also keep a printed copy of it on their desk as a reminder to keep following this tips to manage their emails… as it is very easy to forgot this in our busy schedules.

I have started compiling all this tips into a PDF version and will have it available for download next week on our blog.

THIS WILL BE AVAILABLE FOR FREE SO DO CHECK IN TO GET YOUR OWN COPY

Tip# 6 of 8: Setup Outlook so that it is easy to drag and drop e-mails to the correct folders

By standss - Comments ( 0 ) Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

Welcome back folks… hope you have found the tips shared so far useful and tried to implement the simple email filing structure discussed in the post last week.

If you missed out, please read the earlier post which will help you implement a simple email filing structure and you will see how easy it becomes to file, find and archive e-mails later.

So… now that we have an email filing structure inplace… today’s tip is to answer the next obvious question

How do I file my sent and received emails to this folders?

For users of our QuickFile for Outlook addon… all you got to do is select the email you wish to file, select the folder and click a button to file away your emails.

If you are not using QuickFile or any other email management tools then the easiest way to move e-mails is to drag and drop.

Here is how I think you should configure Outlook so that your list of folders is displayed next to your Inbox (as shown below).

inbox_folders

Viewing the list of folders beside the list of e-mails makes it much easier to drag e-mails from the Inbox/Sent Items to project folders.

To display the list of folders:

  • In Outlook 2013: Click View tab on the menu > click Folder Pane > click Normal.
    If you do not have the Reading Pane display, click Reading Pane > click Right
  • In 2010/2007:  Click View on the menu > click Navigation Pane > click Normal
  • In Outlook 2003:  Click Go on the menu > click Mail. If the Navigation Pane does not show: Click View on the menu Click Navigation Pane > click Normal

That’s it… try this filing method for yourself and see how easy it becomes to drag and drop emails into project folders and keeping your inbox clean.

Time to join the conversation – what do you think?

Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below. Feel free to share your own experience and the filing system that you use to keep your inbox clean and organized with our readers.

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.

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Here are links to the earlier tips we have discussed so far in case you missed out:

Tip #1 of 8: Turn Off Auto-Archiving in Outlook
You should archive e-mails as projects are completed. Don’t disorganize yourself by archiving based on dates.

Tip #2 of 8: Think carefully before using Outlook Rules
Rules can cause you to miss taking action on certain e-mails and also filing them into incorrect folders.

Tip #3 of 8: Find out where your Outlook data file is and backup regularly
How can you be sure that your Outlook data is being backed up if you don’t know where it is?

Tip #4 of 8: Split your Outlook data into more than one file
This technique will stop your e-mail file from getting bloated, slow and eventually corrupting itself and dying.

Tip #5 of 8: File your e-mails using the same folder structure as you do for your paper files
Filing e-mails into folders makes it much quicker and easier to file, find and archive e-mails later.

Tip #4 of 8: Split your Outlook data into more than one file

By standss - Comments ( 2 ) Thursday, June 19th, 2014

We are back this week to continue with the 8 simple tips for email management in Microsoft Outlook.

In the last tip, I showed you where the Outlook Data file is stored by default and why you should regularly back up the data file. But did you know…

Outlook is configured (by default) to eventually corrupt itself and lose
some or maybe even all your data?

Backing up your Outlook data is one way to avoid data loss but there is an even better way to avoid this disastrous incident…

Tip# 4: Split your Outlook data into more than one file
This technique will stop your e-mail file from getting bloated, slow and eventually corrupting itself and dying.

Outlook by default saves all its e-mails into one file.

Prior to Outlook 2003, there was a limitation of 2 GB to your Outlook data file. Although 2 GB seems like a lot, this space can be filled quickly particularly if you receive a lot of attachments.

Once you reach that limit, there is no real warning. Outlook just slows down, e-mails start getting lost and in some cases Outlook just stops opening altogether. Retrieving your e-mails from this corrupt PST is a nightmare.

In Outlook 2003, you have the option of using the new Unicode format of Outlook data file which can hold much more data. However if you upgraded Outlook from an earlier version then chances are that you are still using the older format with the 2 GB limitation.

Irrespective of whether you are using the new or old format data file, you should split your Outlook data into at least 2 files.

Your main PST file should not be used like a filing cabinet for old e-mails. Create a separate PST file to save e-mails that you want to keep for future reference. This leaves your main Outlook data file lean and mean so that Outlook is able to open up quickly.

To create a new Outlook data file:

For Outlook 2013/2010:

  1. Click on Home tab
  2. Select New Items > More Items > Outlook Data File…
  3. Outlook suggests a default location for the file. I recommend that you change this to a folder that you backup regularly, possible a sub-folder in your My Documents.
  4. Enter a filename and click OK to create the file.

For Outlook 2003/2007:

  1. Click File > New > Outlook Data File
  2. Outlook 2003 Only: Outlook 2003 uses two types of Outlook data files. If you will be using the data only in Outlook 2003 or later, choose MS Outlook Personal Folders File. Otherwise choose the Outlook 97-2002 option.
  3. Outlook suggests a default location for the file. I recommend that you change this to a folder that you backup regularly, possible as sub-folder in your My Documents.
  4. Enter a filename and click OK to create the file.

You can create as many Personal Folder files as you need. Most users only need to create one in addition to the one that Outlook creates by default.

PST 1: Default Folder created by Outlook
PST 2: Use to store Project, Case or Client E-mails

You will be moving e-mails from PST 1 to PST 2 as I will show you in the upcoming tips.

If you have a very high volume of e-mails (particularly with large attachments) you may want to have 2 PST files for your Project E-mails, one for Active projects and one for Completed projects.

What’s Next?

By now I’m sure you have started backing up your Outlook data file regularly and following today’s post, I would recommend that you create the multiple data files and prepare for the upcoming posts in which we start organizing our emails and filing them in an efficient way so that it is easy to find and retrieve for future use.

Till next time… have a better Outlook.

Time to join the conversation – what do you think?

I hope that you found the tips so far useful in our quest for a better email management system.

Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below. Feel free to share your own experience and the filing system that you use to keep your inbox clean and organized with our readers.

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.

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Here are links to the earlier tips we have discussed so far in case you missed out:

Tip #1: Turn Off Auto-Archiving in Outlook
You should archive e-mails as projects are completed. Don’t disorganize yourself by archiving based on dates.

Tip 2: Think carefully before using Outlook Rules
Rules can cause you to miss taking action on certain e-mails and also filing them into incorrect folders.

Tip 3: Find out where your Outlook data file is and backup regularly
How can you be sure that your Outlook data is being backed up if you don’t know where it is?

Tip #3 of 8: Find out where your Outlook data file is and backup regularly

By standss - Comments ( 3 ) Friday, June 13th, 2014

As promised, here I’m with Tip #3 which I personally feel is the most important as it deals with keeping your Outlook data safe from data loss. I don’t even want to imagine the consequences of losing all my emails, contacts, appointments etc for even a day.

Before we get into that, I hope you have had the chance to read the earlier 2 tips, if not here is the link:
Tips 1 & 2 of 8 Simple Tips for Email Management

SO…

How can you be sure that your Outlook data is being backed up if you don’t know where it is?

I am frequently surprised with the number of users who have no idea where their Outlook data is actually saved on their computers.

Unless you are part of a corporate network using MS Exchange, all your Outlook data is stored in one Personal Folders file. This file has a .pst extension and is saved somewhere on your computer. This one file contains all your Outlook folders, e-mails, contacts, tasks, calendar items, journal entries and notes inside it.

So where is this file on your computer?

The exact location depends on the version of Outlook and Windows you are using but unfortunately it is almost never saved in a place you will remember to backup.

To find out where your Outlook data is:

1. Go to your Inbox and make sure that the list of folders is displayed

2. Right-click the top-level folder and select Properties

3. Click the Advanced button. The filename will be displayed in the box labeled FileName.

You need to make sure that you regularly backup this file to a CD, DVD or external hard-disk.

Please make sure that you are backing up your outlook data regularly.

What’s Next?

Did you know that Outlook is configured (by default) to eventually corrupt itself and lose some and maybe even all your e-mails?

Scary right… but not to worry, in the next tip, I will show you a technique that will stop your e-mail file from getting bloated, slow and eventually corrupting itself and dying.

Till next time… have a better Outlook.

Time to join the conversation – what do you think?

I hope that you found the tips so far useful in our quest for a better email management system.

Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below. Feel free to share your own experience and the filing system that you use to keep your inbox clean and organized with our readers.

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.

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