In the office, email is an efficient way to communicate, but it also consumes a lot of time and energy. You will gain more time to manage other tasks in your workday by saving just a bit of the time you spend checking your email every day. Microsoft Outlook is a powerful email client that offers you a way to manage your inbox more efficiently and therefore stay more organized and productive. With Outlook, it only takes a few clicks to organize your email, calendar, contacts, and tasks all in one place. If you are looking for the best productivity and time management tips for using Microsoft Outlook, this article will guide you on how to make your Outlook experience not only useful but also extremely efficient.
How to Use Outlook to Improve Productivity and Time Management
Organize Your Emails into Folders
Folders are typically used to archive emails, but they can also be used to organize new emails so that you don't have messages accumulating in your inbox. In Outlook, you can organize your emails into folders, making them easier to navigate. The thing is, keeping your inbox clean helps you avoid feeling overwhelmed. If you use Outlook efficiently, new emails don't get mixed with the ones you've already read, and important messages don’t get pushed down the queue.
Based on your workflow, you may want to segment your emails by categories that you want to treat differently. You can categorize messages by significance or by action—for example, you can put them into categories like work-related emails, external emails, or emails related to daily meetings. This way, you know where to look for emails that need your attention. You only need as many folders as necessary to keep your inbox organized—you don't have to create meaningless folders that will become a time-sucker in the end. You can set up rules in Outlook to sort emails automatically into folders by category so that you know exactly what is where.
Set Up Automatic Rules to Sort Emails
Outlook rules make it easy to sort your emails automatically into appropriate folders, allowing you to avoid categorizing them manually and therefore focus on important work. If you make use of Outlook's rules, you can send incoming emails directly to a specific folder. For example, your manager's emails with certain subject lines can be routed to your To-Do folder, and your subscription emails can be moved to a folder named Subscriptions or something like that.
Here’s how you can set up a rule in Outlook:
- Right-click an email from the sender whose messages you want to apply your rule to, select the Rules option and click on Create Rule.
- Select one of the following rule criteria:
- The "From [Sender]" rule will execute each time you receive an email from the specified address or contact.
- The "Subject contains” rule will execute each time the subject line specified by you in the corresponding box is used in an email.
- Select how the rule will run.
- If you want to sort incoming emails into specific folders, check the “Move the item to folder” option and select the appropriate folder.
- If you don’t want to see certain incoming emails, you can select the Deleted Items folder.
- Afterward, click on OK to apply the changes.
Clear Your Inbox with One Click
Perhaps you have received several hundred emails, and now your task is to sort them. Inboxes can get cluttered when unread messages build up, especially when their owners are on a business trip or vacation. However, Outlook’s clean-up function lets you get rid of tons of emails quickly, whether you're coming back from a holiday or you've just accumulated too many during a busy week. With this feature, you will be able to see a single email thread instead of trying to scan multiple emails individually, saving time and effort. When viewing your inbox, click the Clean Up button and then choose the Clean Up Folder option from the drop-down menu.
Use Email Templates for Quick Responses
By creating custom email templates in Outlook, you can save time and avoid having to write the same message over and over again. Using Outlook’s Quick Parts feature to create a template is easy; with it, you don’t have to type the same thing repeatedly or copy text from a previously sent message.
When you find yourself typing something you will likely repeat in a future message, remember to do the following:
- Highlight the relevant text and click the Insert button.
- In the Insert drop-down menu, select the Save Selection to Quick Part Gallery option and name your text.
- Click on OK and the template will be saved for future use.
- You can add the saved text to an email message by clicking the Insert tab from within the draft email body, clicking on Quick Parts and selecting the specific text you want to insert.
- This prewritten text will appear automatically in your email body, and you can edit it and customize it to best fit your new email message.
Schedule Future Emails
You can schedule an email in Outlook to appear first thing in the morning or whenever the recipient is most likely to check their inbox. You can write an email at 4 o’clock on Friday evening, when everyone is leaving the office for the weekend, and it will arrive in the recipient’s inbox at 9 o’clock on Monday morning or whenever you schedule it to be delivered. This way, your message will meet your colleague just as they are getting back to work and will appear as one of the first emails they need to open.
Here’s how to schedule an email for later delivery using Outlook’s Future Delivery feature:
- After writing your email, click on Options and then on Delay Delivery.
- In the Properties dialog box, go to the Delivery Options area and check the “Do not deliver before” box.
- Choose the time and date when the email should be delivered.
- Send the email as you normally would, and the email will not be sent until after the “Do not deliver before” date and time that you have set.
We spend way too much time checking our emails. Luckily, by following the MS Outlook tips in this article, you'll be able to manage your emails and inbox more efficiently.
Although the majority of people think of Microsoft Outlook only as a way to send and receive messages, it has other features that can make your workflow more enjoyable and organized. For example, Microsoft’s Cortana productivity assistant is integrated into Outlook mobile, and once you’ve set up Cortana in Outlook, you can listen to new emails on the go. You can unread, flag, delete, and reply to emails by saying basic commands.
However, if you need to send large files over the internet, using Outlook might not be your best bet. For one, you can clutter your recipients’ inboxes. Furthermore, Outlook has restrictive file size limits: you cannot send files larger than 20 megabytes. With all this in mind, FileWhopper is the tool you need. It is a cloud-based platform with which you can easily send files and folders of any size without compressing them to anyone, anytime, anywhere. With FileWhopper, there are no limits on how much data you can send — you can send a 1 GB movie or a 10 TB folder in a safe and efficient manner.
FileWhopper is a pay-as-you-go service, so you only pay for what you actually send. It’s easy. Once you select the file or folder to transfer, you will see a quote and can make a single, non-recurring payment. There are no additional charges, and the payment is calculated based on the size of the transfer.