Studies clearly show that people who do not multi-task can focus for longer periods of time and feel also less stressed. But emails makes it difficult to NOT multi-task, particularly if you get notified each time an email comes in. This post shows you 4 things you need to can do to be more productive with emails without multi-tasking.
Turn OFF email Notifications
Be default Outlook displays a little notification in the bottom right hand corner of your screen every time an email comes in. It may also play a sound or show a little envelope icon in the taskbar.
Unless your work requires real-time notification of emails, we recommend that you turn off ALL email notifications.
Click File and then Options.
Click on the mail tab.
Scroll down to the Mail Arrival section and make sure that all the boxes are un-ticked as shown below.
Have Email Processing Scheduled in Your Calendar
Try and have a fixed time where you go through your Inbox and delete out stuff that doesn’t need to be there, respond to important emails etc.
This is your main email time during the day. Don’t worry… you will still get to see emails again later in the day.
Turn off Outlook when doing non-email related work
Many users turn to emails looking for a distraction when they are at a point in their work that is difficult or requires a decision. They turn to their Inbox hoping to find an excuse to avoid what they really need to work on.
You’re less likely to do this if your Outlook is closed… and even if you do, the time Outlook takes to start up will remind you to go back to your work.
Reward yourself by going to your Inbox when you finish a reasonable chunk of work… or when you finish a particular piece of work
Even if email is a distraction, a lot of real work gets done using it.
I go back to my Inbox roughly around once every one or two hours. This give me my email-fix as well as giving me the opportunity to respond to anything important that may have come up while I was doing other work.
Try these 4 quick tips today. They won’t solve all your email problems but they will put you more in control. You should find you’re getting more work done, feeling less stressed and still getting your emails answered.
If you are using Outlook 2010 and have suddenly found that it only opens in Safe Mode then your computer probably installed Microsoft’s latest patch. Here’s what you need to do to fix it.
The (faulty) December 2015 Patch (KB 3114409) which is causing the problem was actually released to stop a problem where Outlook 2010 was starting in Safe Mode for some users. Instead it did the opposite… it is FORCING Outlook 2010 into Safe Mode.
The faulty patch has been taken down from Microsoft’s website but if you are experiencing the problem, it means that the update has already been downloaded and installed on to your computer.
How to uninstall the update
- Go to the KB3114409 page on Microsoft’s website.
- DO NOT INSTALL THE UPDATE.
- Scroll down to the bottom of the page to the section titled More Information which has a subsection on How to uninstall this update.
It’s easy to send out emails with mistakes even after proof reading them. The reason is that we tend to skim while proof reading and we see the words we think we have written…. instead of the actual words there. The solution… get Outlook to read the emails back to you (preferably with your headphones on).
Here’s what you need to do:
Create a new email.
- Right Click on a blank area of the Ribbon
- Click Customize Quick Access Tool Bar
- Choose Commands not in Ribbon in drop down
- Scroll and select Speak (the list is in alphabetical order)
- Click Add and then click OK
Outlook will add a new button to your Quick Access Tool Bar as shown below.
How to use the button to get Outlook to read the email aloud to you
- Create a new email
- Type some text
- Select the text that you want read out to you.
- Click the button that you added to the ribbon earlier.
Outlook will now read your email out to you.
My favourite error that this helped me catch… I had written “I look forward to jeering from you”… instead of “I look forward to hearing from you”… the j and h keys are right next to each other on the keyboard!
Hope this tip helps you avoid similar errors.
If you find Outlook almost hanging up on you while you are writing emails, this tip will save you from a lot of frustration (and as a bonus increase your focus and productivity).
Does this sound familiar…?
You’re replying to an email and then Outlook starts doing something in the background. It basically locks up! You can’t do anything except wait for it to finish!
After a few moments, you get tired of waiting so you switch over to something that still works on your computer… something to do while you’re waiting… most probably the Internet… or Facebook.
10 minutes later you remember what you were actually working on! That’s 10 minutes wasted just because Outlook started doing something you never asked it to in the first place.
And it’s not just 10 minutes. It normally takes another 10 minutes to get refocussed again.
How many 10 minutes do you lose in your day?
I spend a significant part of my day working on emails and recently I have been having this problem several times a day.
I use Outlook 2013 with Office 365 and I discovered that the problem seems to coincide with when my Outlook is syncing emails with Office 365… particularly when I am working from home where my Internet connection is not as fast.
I found that I can greatly improve my productivity by making Outlook work offline when I plan to do actual work.
This is what you need to do:
- Go to Outlook
- Click Send/Receive on the Ribbon and then click Work Offline.
- Work on your emails
- Make Outlook go back online (by clicking on the Work Offline button again).
Warning: Please remember to make Outlook go online again. While Outlook is offline, no emails will be sent or received. Emails that you send will still be in the Outbox and new emails will be not be received in your Inbox (they will be waiting to be downloaded from your mail server when you go back online).
This simple tip has had a surprisingly positive effect on my productivity. Why?
- It stops Outlook from hanging up so I am able to get what I am working on completed without waiting for Outlook. I don’t get distracted to look at other things (Facebook!!).
- I also don’t get distracted by new emails popping in to the Inbox while I am working on something. (New emails are not downloaded while Outlook is working offline)
- As a bonus I enjoy work more without the frustrations of waiting.
Did this tip help you? Do you have your own tips for fixing Outlook performance issues? Please let us know by leaving a comment below.
We recently upgraded our TBYL! for Outlook users to QuickFile for Outlook. The response has been overwhelmingly positive but a few users asked… Where are the Quick-Task and Quick-Calendar buttons?
These buttons are used to create Tasks and Appointments from Emails (to use TBYL terminology, move emails from your collection system to Action System)
The Quick-Task and Quick-Calendar buttons are part of QuickFile Pro for Outlook as shown below (we are only showing icons and not words to save space on the Ribbon).
By default clicking on either button will create the Task or Calendar as appropriate and attach the email to the body. You can change this default behaviour if you want from the QuickFile Settings screen.
If you have any other questions regarding QuickFile, please let us know by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are people either not responding or taking too long to respond to your emails? Here’s a quick tip that could greatly reduce the response times and increase the response rate to your emails.
The secret… unless absolutely necessary, make each email about one topic/project /subject only.
I am not saying that each email should only have one question, but at least make each email about a separate topic.
This will get you faster and more complete responses… and also simplify email filing and management.
Why does this work?
Whether we admit it or not, most people use their email lists as To-Do lists…. And it feels great to be able to knock things off that list.
If you send someone an email that they are able to respond to quickly (because it deals with one thing only), they will respond to it quickly because it makes them feel good to have the email out of their Inboxes.
Many productivity techniques preach the Two Minute rule which says you should respond immediately to an email if it will take less than 2 minutes. Make it easy for them to respond immediately!
This can be even more true if you send several emails about different things (that are all quick and easy to answer). They now get the joy of crossing several things off their email to-do list.
If you put several topics in the same email, you may find that…
You receive no response!
If you put several different topics on one email, the recipient may be able to answer some quickly but others may take more time. In the time-starved world we live in today, this could mean that he will not respond at all until he has more time.
Unless your email is very important to him, it could soon get buried under newer emails that have arrived in his Inbox.
At least if you had separated emails into several topics, you would have received a response to some things that were easy or important enough to respond to quickly.
You receive incomplete response
On the other hand, if you have several questions in one email, you may get answers to a few of the easy ones but not the difficult ones. Why?
The recipient responds to your email and then moves it out of his Inbox (one more thing crossed off that email list).
An added benefit of single topic emails… email management is much easier… and safer
Most Outlook users file emails into client or project based folders. Keeping each email about a separate project means that they are easy to file into folders (because the email only deals with one projects). You don’t have to waste time figuring out where an email needs to go (or making copies to file into more than one folder).
(If you do use client or project based folders for email filing, we recommend Quick File for Outlook)
You project folders will also be safer in case you need to share project information with others. This way you know that you emails do not contain unrelated information that could be accidentally shared with the wrong person.
I hope that you found this tip useful. Let us know if you agree or disagree by leaving a comment below.
A great email signature can help your business by building your image and credibility as well as making it easier for people to contact you. In this short post I look at what things a good signature block can do for you, what you want to put in, and what you should leave out.
The most important thing to remember… Your signature block needs to be as small as possible particularly since so many emails are only a few lines long… but it still has to achieve several objectives.
The objectives of a good signature block
A good signature block should do most if not all of the following for you:
- Let people know who you are
- Let people know how they can contact you
- Show people who may not know you what you or your company does
- If possible, convince people who don’t know you that you are a credible person that they can safely work with
- If you use social media a lot, let them connect you via your preferred social media website.
What you should include:
- Your Name
- Your Title (Optional but very useful, particularly if you have an important or at least important sounding title)
- Your company name
- (Optional) Your company logo
- (Optional) Logo or text details of any awards or memberships that build your credibility. Keep this as short as possible. Don’t list too many things or it loses it’s impact.
- A tag line that makes it easy to understand what you and your company do (Optional only if your company name is immediately recognizable)
- Your Phone Number
- Your web site address
What you do not need to include
Personally I feel that it is a waste of space to include the following:
- Your email address (they already know that sine they received the email from you)
- You fax number (unless you are in an industry/country that still makes use of fax)
- Your postal or physical address (they can always ask for this if they need it)
What do you think?
I hope that you find this article useful.
Do you have your own tips for better email signatures? Please share your ideas with other readers by leaving a comment on this post.
You can reclaim a lot of your time and energy wasted on emails by automating repetitive tasks. Outlook has a built-in feature called Quick-Steps that makes it easy to create your own automations.
The easiest way to show you the power of QuickSteps is with an example.
Our company owns a property that is rented out. The property is managed by another company for us. When any repairs etc need to be carried out, they get the appropriate vendors to come in and do the work. Once the work is successfully completed they send us a copy of the vendor’s invoice so that we can pay the vendor directly. These emails are usually sent to me.
When I receive these emails, and assuming that everything is OK, I do the following:
1. Forward the email to my Accounts person and advise them to make the payment (Click Forward, type the person’s email address, type Please Pay and then click Send)
2. File a copy of the original email in a folder inside Outlook called Properties. (This can be done by dragging and dropping or using QuickFile for Outlook.
You can use QuickSteps to reduce all of the above to the CLICK OF ONE BUTTON.
Creating the QuickStep
On the Home tab of the Ribbon, click QuickSteps-New QuickStep -Forward To
Enter an appropriate name.
If I only wanted to forward the email (And not do the second filing step), I can simply enter the email address in the space provided and clicked Finish).
Click the Show Options hyperlink.
Enter an email address in the To field (or click the To button and choose an email address).
Enter any text that you want to be displayed in the email that will be forwarded.
The QuickStep now contains everything needed to Forward the email. Time to add the filing component.
Click Add Action
Choose Move to Folder and select the folder you want to move the email to.
Note on an Outlook Bug:
There is a bug in Outlook that sometimes prevents the QuickStep from being saved. Clicking Save does not give an error message but the screen does not close either. If this happens to you, the solution is to type the whole email address again (the email that was in the To field earlier).
Using the QuickStep
Using the QuickStep is easy.
Click QuickStep on the Ribbon and select the new QuickStep. Outlook will automatically carry out your programmed actions.
You can also right-click over the email in your Inbox and select QuickSteps from there.
Start automating today…
What do you do daily that you can use QuickSteps for? Let us know by leaving a comment in the blog below.
(While QuickSteps can assist with email filing as shown in the example above, if you have more than just a few folders, we recommend the QuickFile for Outlook addin.
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).
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.
Here’s a super shot quick and easy to hide or show the ribbon in Outlook. This is a useful tip if you want to make better use of your screen space but still use the buttons on the Ribbon too.
- To hide the Ribbon, simply press CTRL+F1
- To show the Ribbon, press CTRL+F1 again
Do you have your own keyboard shortcuts that you find useful… or tips on making better use of the Ribbon. Let us know by leaving a comment below. Related Posts Keyboard Shortcuts on Ribbons in Outlook 2010 (and 2007) Keyboard Shortcuts in all Versions of Outlook