Over the years of using Outlook, I have found 4 really easy hacks that help boost productivity.
The Screenshots and steps below are for a Mac. However, these steps are very similar for Windows.
Number 1: Outlook Rules.
Outlook Rules enables you to organize all your E-mails coming into your main inbox. If you are someone like me who gets inundated with hundreds of E-mails every day, you can use Outlook rules to automatically sort these E-mails into folders. For instance, I have a folder specifically for newsletters, so instead of them filing into my main inbox and for me to get distracted, these E-mails go straight into my newsletter folder.
The way to do this is, find an email that you want to automate, right click on it, go down to rules and you can select move messages from whoever the email is from. Click on that and it will open up a brand-new rule and this is where you type in what folder you want the emails to go to.
So, now in the future, whenever you receive an email from that particular address, it will be sent to that folder. You can also set it up for entire email domains (@company.com) as well as individuals to be sent to the folder. You’ll be able to see if you receive an email because a 1 will show up over the folder.
One thing to bare in mind with using Outlook rules is if you have Outlook set up on your phones, you won’t see emails with rules applied unless you browse and look into the folders.
Number 2: Quick Actions
Unfortunately, Quick actions haven't been added to the Mac line, which is quite annoying because I used to use it all the time on windows.
At the top of Outlook, there will be something called Quick Actions or Quick Steps. This allows you to, as suggested in the name, quickly do tasks in one step.
I used this all the time with our invoices. Whenever we received a supplier invoice with an attached PDF, I would check the PDF over, click on the quick actions button and that would then forward the email to receipt bank, our account system that automatically scans our PDF invoices and then finally, it will then send it on to our Xero account system.
Quick Actions saves so much time as I didn’t have to keep on doing these steps individually.
Number 3: Rooms and Resources
Rather than using paper diaries or calendars to book a meeting room or a car out, you can use a tool in Microsoft Exchange or Office 365 called resource instead.
To do so, create a new meeting, then click on the scheduling icon and add a room. We already have our conference room set up, so we add that to the meeting.
When that is closed down, you can then see that the conference room appears, and you can then see when the conference room is in use. This makes it easier to see when the Conference room is free so it can’t be double booked. The resource is fantastic for anything that only one person can use at any one time.
Number 4: Searching in Outlook
The search is such a powerful tool that is often overlooked. Instead of looking through the hundreds of emails in your mailbox just to find one email, you can use search to find it in seconds. You can search for email attachments, dates the emails were sent or received, size of the email, email address and words that are in the email or subject. Searching for the specifics can narrow the time spent looking for the email or emails massively.
An example of this is I want to find emails from a specific email address, so I copied the address and pasted it in the search bar at the top and hit return (enter key). This will then show me all the emails from that address. But there are some more advanced searches that can be applied to filter the emails even more. If you go to the search tab there are lots of different options to choose from.
For instance, if you click on attachments it will now only show the emails from that address that contains attachments.
You can still go one further by adding in the ‘item contains’ and search for words that would be in the emails you are looking for.
So, within a short amount of time, I have managed to filter the emails down to find specific emails instead of scrolling endlessly through your mailbox.
With all these steps combined, you will increase productivity in no time.
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