6 Productivity Hacks for Microsoft Outlook

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Technology is making our lives so much easier nowadays, with plenty of tools and programs to help increase office productivity. Following on from our recent blog post on Using Excel, we thought we’d share our best Microsoft Outlook tips and productivity hacks that you may not be aware of.

Most offices use Microsoft Outlook as their email client, but many are not aware of the many nifty things you can do with the programme to speed up workflow and save time. Besides letting you schedule emails, adding a signature to every mail you send, filtering mail by sender, and ignoring unwanted mail, there are some lesser known tasks that can make email management much easier:

Speed up typing with Quick Parts

Quick Parts is a nifty feature to let you insert commonly used text blocks in an email, without having the character limit of AutoCorrect. To create a Quick Part, select the block of text and hit Quick Parts on the Insert tab. Select the option to “Save Selection to the Quick Part Gallery” and hit OK. For quick insertion of Quick Parts in an email, start typing the Quick Part name and hit F3. You can also add it manually by going to the Insert>Quick Part tab. If Show AutoComplete Suggestions is enabled, insertion will become easier.

Streamlining your inbox by removing the CC’s

The chances are that your inbox is full of email that hasn’t been sent to you directly. A lot of people find it useful to create a special inbox where all the cc’s and bcc’s can be stored, in order to keep your main inbox streamlined, and stop you from being distracted. To do this, go to Rules>New Rules. Select the Advanced Options, which will open up a Wizard. Select the option “where my name is not in the To box” and set it up to move to a specific folder (you could even create a new one called Inbox CC)

Use email templates

Di you know you can create an email template to reuse when needed rather than having to type out the same text over and over again. To create a template, go to Home>New Group>New E-Mail. You can also hit the Ctrl + Shift + M shortcut. Then create the message you want to save as a template, go to File>Save As>Save As Type>Outlook Template. Give the template a name and hit Save.

Empty Trash automatically on exit

If you don’t have the storage space to wait for the 30 days for Outlook’s automatic trash empty, you can set it up to empty trash each time you exit Outlook. To do this, go to File>Options>Advanced and head to the Outlook Start and Exit area. Check the option to Empty Deleted Items folders when exiting. Exit the dialogue box. You can also set Outlook to ask for confirmation before permanently deleting items in the Trash.

Create a Custom Search folder

When you find yourself searching for specific categories of mail, such as unread mail, often, you may feel the need to have your own custom search folders. You can use a list of predefined search folders like Mail From and To Specific People, Mail Marked as Unread etc. for quick access. But you can also create a custom folder by heading to Mail>New>Search Folder>Create a custom Search Folder. In the Customize Search Folder area, hit Choose’ and define the Criteria for the folder and select the folders which you want to include mail from.

Quick Steps to automate regular tasks

Quick Steps lets you speed up your workflow by automating tasks that you find yourself performing on a regular basis. Don’t want to manually invite a certain group of people to a meeting every single time? You can go to the Home tab and find certain predefined steps for quickly getting things done, such as Meeting Reply, Team E-mail, Forward FYI and Move to, among others. The best part is that you can create your own Quick Steps to execute a series of commands, give it an icon and a name so that you can recognize it, and voila!

These Outlook hacks should help to make email management much easier and are worth investing the time to explore. However, if you need any further help, the team at MY PA is always there to give you advice on making life easier.