Tag Archives: Outlook as a Business Tool

Tips 1 & 2 of 8 Simple Tips for Email Management

By standss - Comments ( 4 ) Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

Hope you all had an awesome weekend and now are ready to get started with the exciting journey to overcome a common problem… Email Overload.

There is no better time than the start of the week to get this battle going as your inbox must already be filled with emails from the weekend and you are wondering how to get over it.

If you are planning to archive this emails or moving them using Rules, then that’s a big NO NO!!!.

Let’s find out why…

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.

“Time is wasted due to delays in trying to work out if the item I am looking for is in current or archive folders ” – (Norman)

Outlook can automatically reduce the size of your data file by removing old e-mails and putting them in a separate file. TURN THIS OFF NOW!

I will show you a better method of archiving later.

Why shouldn’t you use Auto Archive?

Your work is logically divided into projects or cases. Some projects can take months whereas others may take years. Until a project is complete, all e-mails for the project should be visible in one place.

Using Auto Archive will split your e-mails into multiple files which will compound the problem of finding e-mails while a project is active and of archiving e-mails once the project is completed.

SO… if you thought auto-archiving your email was helping you keep Inbox email clean and organized… think again?

Technically you are wasting the same amount of time finding your emails in separate folders as you would have in your Inbox.


To turn off Auto-Archiving:

For Outlook 2013/2010:

  1. Click File menu > Options
  2. Select Advanced
  3. Click on AutoArchive Settings…
  4. Remove the tick next to Run AutoArchive

For Outlook 2003/2007:

  1. Click Tools > Options
  2. Select the Other Tab.
  3. Click the Auto Archive button.
  4. Remove the tick next to Run AutoArchive

This should now stop auto-archiving of your emails… which is the first step forward to a better email management system.

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.

The three main problems with Rules are:

Problem 1 – E-mails get moved out of the Inbox without you seeing them: Your Inbox is meant to be an action-list. It should show you, in one place, all e-mails that you still need to read and work on.

Problem 2 – Rules shift e-mails out of your Inbox before you have a chance to see them: This means that you have to remember to check other folders for your action list which can result in e-mails getting over-looked.

Problem 3 – E-mails get moved into the wrong folder: If you are working with the same person on more than one project, it is very difficult for an automated system to actually decide what project the e-mail relates to. There is no way to ensure that every e-mail for a project has a word in it that your Rules filter catches.

What’s Next?

We have only started so stay tuned for Tip #3 later this week in which I will be showing you how to keep your Outlook data (emails, contacts, calendar items etc) safe from data loss.

Till next time… have a better Outlook.

Time to join the conversation – what do you think?

I hope that you find the first 2 tips 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.

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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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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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Retention Policies: Your Deleted Items folder will be cleared every 30 days!

By standss - Comments ( 0 ) Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

We have told you before why you should not use the Outlook Deleted Items folder as your filing cabinet i.e. do not use the Deleted Items folder as the folder where you keep emails for later reference.

Here’s another good reason…. If you are using Office 365 (I recently moved my email account to it), your Deleted Items folder is automatically cleared (every day) of emails that are 30 days or older.

The reason for this is that folders in Outlook that are linked to Office 365 have Retention Policies applied to them.

A retention policy defined how long Office 365 will keep items in users’ mailboxes and defines what actions to take on items that have reached a certain age.

The default action for the Deleted Items is to clear items that are 30 days or older.

While it is possible to change this default action, I don’t think you should. Automatically clearing emails provides two benefits:

  1. It discourages you from “filing” emails in the Deleted Items folder.
  2. It provides insurance in case you need to recover an email that you deleted recently.

You can find more information on Setting Email Retention Policies in Office 365 here.


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Managing Projects in Outlook using Appointments and Tasks

By standss - Comments ( 0 ) Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

In the post last week, we looked at some of the ways that you can customize outlook to suit your style of working and also effective handle the pile of emails in your inbox.

Other than emails, Outlook users also use the calendar and task to manage their daily lives and projects… and yet Outlook does not give us an easy way to manage projects inside Outlook. Outlook users frequently ask us how they can see all appointments and tasks that make up a project in one place.

Why is this important?  Most work or projects are made up of a series of steps all being related to each other. As we finish a step, it is important to know what the next steps are to get the project completed. Things also don’t always go according to plan… and we need to see what else gets affected when things change.

Our research showed that there is no simple way to organize and view related tasks and appointments under projects… so we added this functionality to our Outlook Project Management addin Smart Schedules for Outlook.

With Smart Schedules for Outlook you can:

  1.  Assign existing (or new) tasks and appointments to projects
  2. Quickly see all tasks and appointments for a project at the click of a button.

Here are step by step instructions showing you just how easy this can be:

Assign existing (or new) tasks and appointments to projects

  1.  Open Outlook and go to the Calendar/Task folder that the existing appointment/task is located in
  2. Select the appointment/task
  3. Click on Assign Project button on the Smart Schedules toolbar/ribbon. This will display the following screen:


 Select an existing project from the Project list.

  • Note: You can also type in a new project name if you would like to create a new project and add this selected appointment/task to that project.
  • Click OK.

Quickly see all tasks and appointments for a project at the click of a button

Smart Schedules Project Centre makes it easy to see all appointments and tasks that you have associated with a project.

On the Smart Schedules toolbar, click Project Centre

  • From the Project drop-down, select the Project to which you assigned the appointment or task
  • You will now be able to view the appointment or task assigned to the project and all other related appointments and tasks for the project as shown below:


Next Steps…

Smart Schedules for Outlook was designed with the help of almost 20,000 Outlook users. Try it for yourself today and tell us what you think.

Download a fully functional version of Smart Schedules for Outlook.

Watch a short video of our Outlook based Project Management tool (Smart Schedules)

I hope you find this tip useful managing your projects in Outlook.

If you know of other ways to manage projects using Outlook, share it with our readers by leaving a comment below.


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Customize Outlook to Work the way you want

By standss - Comments ( 0 ) Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

First of all Happy New Year to all our readers and welcome back to work J

I’m sure you all have enjoyed the holidays and now recharged to work through another year.

Your inbox is sure to be full of emails piled up while you were away and so in this first post for the year, we will show you some of the ways that you can customize outlook to suit your style of working and also effectively handle the pile of emails in your inbox.

Tip 1: Auto Highlight Important Emails in Outlook

Not all emails in your inbox will require immediate attention for example newsletters, so how do you pick out which ones are urgent and which ones can be dealt with later?

Outlook has an in-built feature which automatically highlights by color coding emails so that you remain focused and easily identify important emails from the hundreds of emails you receive.

For me, I’m only interested in emails that have the word Outlook in them.

I’ve setup Outlook so that it automatically highlights (Red Bold) any email with the word Outlook in it.

 This way you don’t have to waste time scanning through hundreds of emails.

Here’s how to auto-highlight important emails in Outlook

Tip 2: Mark Outlook Emails READ only after you ACTUALLY Read them

 If you are not using the auto highlight option above, you would likely be clicking through each email in your inbox to find the ones that you need to deal with BUT…

As you are clicking through your emails, Outlook is marking them as READ, which means they will no longer appear BOLD for you to clearly identify which ones are still left to be ACTUALLY READ or dealt with.

Here is a simple setting in Outlook which lets you set a minimum time that you need to be on an email before it is marked as read (I have set mine to 5 second):

 Tip 3: Easy Email Search Tricks in Outlook

 In the old days, finding an Outlook email meant wading through folders and manually searching for the correct email. Finding emails now is EASY particularly if you know some tricks to help you get more accurate search results. Here are a few of my favorite search tricks in Outlook.

I hope you find this tips useful in working through your emails this year.

If you have other tips for handling emails in Outlook, please share it with our readers by leaving a comment below


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Why images in your marketing emails can reduce response rates

By standss - Comments ( 0 ) Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

Adding images to your sales and marketing emails can make your emails look attractive and engaging but ONLY if the images and your well-crafted HTML email appears the same in the recipient’s inbox as you intend it too…

Using images in your marketing emails incorrectly can cause a reduction in response rates. Here’s why:

  • Plain text emails get through spam filters more easily (ultimately it depends on content so your plain text emails will still get caught if you are sending out obvious spam).
  • Email clients like Outlook do not display graphics in emails by default because spammers use them for tracking purposes etc. Therefore if you have your main message only in an image (without repeating it in plain text), then your readers may never actually see it.
  • Many email users are now using the preview pane to scan through emails before deciding which emails deserve their attention. If you have a graphic at the top that is not meaningful then your emails may be skipped.
  • Not all your readers are using the same version of Outlook as you are… in fact many may not be using Outlook at all (think Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo Mail etc). In our experience images often cause HTML emails to display differently in different browsers which can spoil the look you want to achieve with your emails.

This is one of the main reasons that most of the professionally designed templates in our Email Merge for Outlook addin have little or no images in them. Instead we have used HTML to create a professional look that displays properly and looks great in all the email programs that your readers will be using.

I hope you find this tip useful with your email marketing campaigns this holiday season and improving your response rates.

Let us know if you have other techniques to improve the email response rate by leaving a comment below.


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Should you use images in Outlook sales and marketing emails?

By standss - Comments ( 0 ) Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

Like many other email clients, images are turned off by default in Outlook. What does this meant to you if you are sending sales and marketing emails to Outlook users?

First… why are images turned off in Outlook?

  1. It helps users avoid viewing potentially offensive material (when external content is linked to the message)
  2. It helps to keep malicious code from damaging the data on your computer.
  3. It stops spammers from tracking which users actually opened their emails.

You can find more information on why images are turned off in Outlook at this link.

How will recipients see your images?

Most recipients will NOT have the images displayed when they receive your email. Instead they will see a red X.

display image

In order to view your images they will need to MANUALLY right click over the space where the image should be displayed and then click Download Pictures.

Can you make sure that recipients will see the images in the emails you send?

NO! There are settings in Outlook which you can use to display all images, or images from selected recipients but… you cannot control them as the sender.

Each user controls how they want to view emails that they receive by changing their settings BUT…

A study by Jared Pool shows that less than 5% of users have changed any settings at all.

So what should an Email Marketer do?

  1. Assume that users have not changed their settings… and that they cannot see your images.
  2. Build a relationship with recipients by sending useful emails so they actually want to read your emails. This may mean sending emails with more text than images to start with.
  3. Use colors, highlighting and other HTML ideas to format your emails. Don’t just rely on images
  4. Structure your email with a mixture of text and images so that recipients actually WANT to see your emails.
  5. TEST the emails by sending them to yourself. Make sure that the view images setting in your Outlook is OFF. Do you see enough in the email to want to view the images?

I hope that this blog post helps you make better use of images in your emails.

If you do send a lot of sales and marketing emails out to customers, you may also want to look at Email Merge for Outlook.

Email Merge is already used by thousands of Outlook users around the world to improve deliverability and response rates for sales and marketing emails.

DEFER Outlook Emails till you ACTUALLY need them (no additional software required)

By standss - Comments ( 0 ) Friday, June 14th, 2013

Your email inbox is where you spend most of your time and it is one busy place to be especially if you are receiving hundreds of emails per day.

Not all emails you receive need immediate actions or responses so you might want to defer it for a later time.

If you just leave the email in your inbox, you are likely to forget because it might just get buried under all the emails that you continue receiving throughout the day.

So how can you ensure that you are reminded to work on an email later when you are ready?

Here are a few ways to automatically get reminded to work on an email that you have received but do not need/want to work on till some date/time in the future.

Option 1: Flag the email with a reminder

This is an OK option if you don’t mind keeping the email in your Inbox (If you want to move the email out of your Inbox, option 2 might be more suited for you).

  • Right click on the email, click Follow-up and then click Add Reminder.

outlook email reminder

  • Enter the relevant information in the screen and click OK.

The problems with this method are:

  • The email actually stays in your Inbox which can be a distraction and affect your productivity.
  • You can’t add any notes to the original email (unless you are using Email Notes for Outlook)

Option 2: Convert the Email to your Calendar or Task List (drag-and-drop)

Many Outlook users do not realize this but you can convert an email to a Task or Calendar by dragging it to the Task or Calendar folder.

A new Task or Calendar Item will be created and opened with the email content in it. You can set the appropriate date to be reminded.

I prefer to drag-and-drop using the right (instead of left) mouse button. This gives 3 options when I drop the email:

  • Copy here as Task with Text
  • Copy here as Task with Attachment
  • Move here as Task with Attachment

I choose either Copy or Move with Attachment options. This way the new Task has the email attached to it. I can simply double-click the attached email to respond.

I hope you find this tip useful in getting more organized.

Do you know of other ways to better manage your emails in Outlook?

Share it with us by leaving a comment below.

Email Marketing Tip: Using Outlook Categories to Segment your Customers/Prospects (for better sales result)

By standss - Comments ( 0 ) Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

Have you heard of the phrase “ONE SIZE FITS ALL”?

This works quite well for devising policies or procedures within companies or single departments where individuals work for a single goal BUT…

If you are applying this strategy for your email marketing campaigns, you are likely to be annoying your customers/prospects by sending them emails/information that they don’t need.

As a result, prospects might unsubscribe from your list even before you get a chance to offer them something that would have been valuable to them and ultimately this could lead to a LOST SALE in future.

When it comes to email marketing, the phrase needs a slight tweak.

The phrase should say “NO ONE SIZE FITS ALL”

Not everyone on your list of customers and prospects are interested in everything you sell so it is important that you group them into different segments… and then send different emails based on the needs of each group.

Outlook has a very powerful feature called Categories that you can use to segment your contacts.

Unfortunately it is not as easy as it could be to do email merges with this!

Users of our Email Merge PRO for Outlook software can easily use the Email Merge Wizard to both send out emails to particular segments/categories and to maintain their mailing lists.

The Email Merge Wizard lets you save your selected contacts to a new or existing category easily inside the Wizard.

outlook email merge categories

Check out the short demo video on our website or test drive Email Merge Pro by downloading the 30 day trial.

I hope you find this tip useful.

If you have other email marketing tips, please share it with us by leaving a comment below.