Microsoft Outlook is the business standard for email communication.
Most workers around the world start and end their day by checking their emails. Outlook has around 400 million active users worldwide and the number of emails sent around the world will reportedly grow around 333 billion in 2022.
As an Outlook user you may know how to use Outlook efficiently but here are 10 tips and tricks to help you get the most out of Outlook.
1. Develop an Email Routine
Have a daily time slot to go through your emails.
Many of us have the habit of checking our emails several times during the day just to be aware of what’s going on. Our brains aren’t good at multitasking and there’s a popular belief that when we multitask, we screw up several things at once.
The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule but to schedule your priorities.
A better approach to handling your emails is to dedicate (maybe) 10 minutes every hour to check your emails. Focus on the most important emails and when you’re done close your inbox and get to work. Remember, not all emails are the same. Some emails may require you to take immediate action and some may just serve to inform you of something.
One handy tip you can use in Outlook is the Work Offline feature.
In the Send/Receive tab in Outlook, you can click on Work Offline under the Preferences group.
You can see that I’m currently offline.
Here’s a simple approach for working with your Inbox
Do It- If you can take immediate action your email is asking, you should do it.
Delete It- Delete emails that are not important or relevant.
Delegate It- There are some emails that we can’t delete or take any action on by ourselves at the moment. Emails of such nature should be forwarded to someone within your team who can handle the task.
The following emails should be delegated:
- Emails that someone else can handle better
- Messages that ask for information that you aren’t unaware of
- Emails that require you to perform a simple task that anyone can do for you
Defer- When you receive an email that demands too much of your time and you are focused on some other urgent tasks, move the email to a designated folder so you can take action on it later.
You can set a reminder for that deferred email.
How to set a reminder
With EEMINDERS for Outlook you can use eeminders to move emails out of your Inbox and have them automatically return at the actual date and time you want to work on them.
You can even add notes to the emails to remind yourself of the action you want to take.
With eeminders, you get to have a clean inbox that helps you get the right things done at the right time
2. Use Quick Parts to Insert Pre-formatted text
Quick Parts are reusable pieces of content or other email message parts that can be stored in galleries and used later on.
This feature of Outlook helps us to save time when we have to send the same email content to the recipients.
Let’s say I lead a marketing agency and every time a new employee joins or when we hire a freelance staff, I have to give them the procedure we follow at our agency to write blog posts.
So while sending that email, here’s how I can utilize Quick Parts to simplify my work-
Click Insert. Highlight the text you want to use as reusable content. Then click on Quick Parts and select Save Selection to Quick Part Gallery.
The following prompt will open.
Give a name to your Quick Part. In my case, I will give the name- Steps to Write Blogpost. Then click OK.
Now I can just insert this piece of reusable content every time I have to email steps to write blog posts through the Quick Parts feature
3. Always Double-check your emails before sending
Busy emailers often don’t live by the philosophy of Think Twice, Act Wise.
Everyone strives to work better and faster but sometimes we don’t spend enough time checking and verifying what we are sending in that email.
Accidental emailing isn’t a small problem.
When we are constantly juggling deadlines and deliverables and errors such as a misdirected email can happen to anyone.
Many of us don’t have a system where we can force ourselves to slow down and cross-check what we are sending and to whom we are sending it.
One simple tip that everyone can adhere to always makes it a habit to go over names listed in the T0, CC and BCC field. Check whether you are sending the correct attachments to the intended recipient.
How can SendGuard Help?
SendGuard for Outlook is an add-in that prevents accidental emailing. SendGuard gets you to confirm external recipients and attachments before you send the email.
If privacy, confidentiality, and security are of the utmost importance to your organization, SendGuard is the perfect solution for your Outbound emails.
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4. Create a Distribution List
You can use a Distribution List or Contact Group in Outlook to send an email to multiple people without having to add each email address to the TO, CC, or BCC field individually.
To set up a distribution list follow these simple steps:
Click on the People icon on the navigation bar at the bottom.
On the ribbon, select New Contact Group.
Give your contact group a name. Click on Add Members to add members from your contact list or address book.
To add members who are not in your address book or contacts, select New E-mail Contact.
To send a message to the contact group, type the name of the contact group in the TO field. Outlook will show you potential matches from the address book and you can select from there as well.
But here’s something better than Distribution Lists
EmailMerge for Outlook is a highly beneficial add-in that makes it easy for you to send large numbers of personalized emails using your existing Outlook contacts, Excel lists, Salesforce contacts, or Access Databases.
With EmailMerge you can easily send personalized emails to your customers, employees, or clients.
5. Drag and Drop Attachments from Outlooks to Teams
In the past when you had to transfer a file attachment from Outlook to Teams, you had to download the file to your local machine and then share the file in Teams.
Now with the drag and drop feature, things are simplified.
6. Make Important Emails Standout in Outlook with Color Coding
Did you know that you can automatically change colors and fonts based on who sent the message and email subject?
Conditional formatting is a feature in Outlook that makes important messages stand out by using color, fonts, and styles. You can configure a rule that makes your emails appear with a specific font or color.
The biggest benefit of conditional formatting is that messages that truly matter stand out in your inbox.
For example, you may want to make emails from your boss stand out in your inbox. You can easily do this in Outlook with the following steps:
- Go to the View tab. From the View tab, on the Current View group select View Settings
- The following dialog box will open. Click on the Conditional Formatting button.
The following dialog box will open. Within this prompt you can see the existing rules that are already applied to your messages. You can format the existing rules or add new ones. In my case, I will add a new rule. I will call this new rule- From HubSpot. I want emails that I receive from HubSpot to stand out in my inbox.
You can change the font size and color as well by clicking on the Font button. I select the font, I select bold, I set the font size to bigger and chose the color red.
Click on the Condition button to set the condition for when the format should apply. The following prompt will open.
You have all the different options to choose from when the format you have created should be applied. I want to keep things really simple so I will just enter the domain name in the format- “@domainname.com”. In this case, I enter – @hubspot.com. You can enter the email address of the sender in the From field as well. For multiple senders separate the email addresses with a semicolon.
Click Ok. As you can see the emails, I receive from HubSpot are conditionally formatted with rules that I have set.
Now I won’t definitely miss any message from HubSpot.
7. De-Clutter your Inbox
The overflowing state of our inbox is something that can get many people anxious.
Organizing, managing, and maintaining a clean email inbox is no rocket science, you can achieve this by following some simple yet effective steps.
The obvious way to have a clean inbox is to have fewer messages. Delete or archive any emails you longer need to take action on. Unsubscribe from any email you are no longer interested in receiving. If you receive spam emails, block the sender, and send the email to the junk folder.
Another way to reduce the number of incoming emails is to turn off all social media and app notifications you receive. In Outlook you can easily manage emails by creating rules. For example, if you receive email newsletters, you can create a separate folder for these emails and then create a rule that will automatically file your email in that folder.
Click on any one of the email newsletters you receive. Right-click on that email and select Rules > Create Rules. Now all newsletters you receive will be automatically placed in the new folder you have created without cluttering your inbox.
8. Use Quick-Steps for Repetitive Tasks
With Quick Steps, you can apply multiple actions at the same time on emails. Quick-Steps is a great feature of Outlook which helps us to manage our inbox by avoiding unnecessary clicks. When you receive an email that you can neither answer nor delete you can use Quick steps to move that email to a specific folder. For example, while going through my inbox I want to move emails that I receive from Aweber to a specific folder so I can take action on it later.
This is how I will set up a Quick-Step.
- Go to Home > Quick-Steps.
- Select New Quick Step > Move to Folder. There are other Quick steps that I can create but for the purpose of this example, we want to move emails that receive from Aweber to a specific folder.
- Select the folder from the drop-down menu and then click Finish.
All I have to do now is just move emails I receive from Aweber to the Aweber folder through the Quick steps menu.
You can also set up shortcut keys for your Quick steps.
Here’s how you can do that:
Click on Quick Steps > Manage Quick Steps.
Select your Quick Step > Edit.
In my case I will use this shortcut key combination to allocate my messages.
9. Use Outlook Search to Find Emails Faster
Outlook’s search feature helps you find items that you are looking for. There are two ways in which you can use the search feature in Outlook- Instant Search and Advanced Search.
Let’s begin with Instant Search. To perform an instant search, just type for you what you want to search for in the search bar in Outlook.
As you can see that you can define the scope of your search, you can include older results and you also refine your search.
You can use Advanced Search by clicking on the filter button on the right side of the search box.
However, many of us desperately need a way to:
- Organize emails so that they are easy to find later
- Keep Inbox clean so that we can see what we still need to work on
- Do all this without it interfering with our real work!
Traditionally, Outlook users have used Folders to accomplish the above, but some of us have different preferences.
If you’re one of those people- you can try tagging. Tagging your emails with categories makes them more findable and more groupable.
With EmailTags you get the benefit of using folders without actually having to use folders.
10. Organize your Emails
Most people chose to leave their messages in the inbox however, keeping all your emails in your Inbox can be a huge drag on productivity.
It can be easy to overlook important emails in your inbox because you are skimming through so many messages in your inbox.
A simple practice to keep your emails organized is to use folders. To create a folder in Outlook, In the left pane of Mail, Contacts, Tasks, or Calendar, right-click where you want to add the folder, and then click New Folder. Fill in the name of the folder and press Enter.
Alternatively, you can create a new folder through the Folder tab in Outlook. Click Folder> New Folder. The keyboard shortcut for this is CTRL+Shift+ E.
An efficient way of naming your folders is to use the action-based approach. In the action-based approach, you name your folders as actions that you would take on your emails. For example, you can name your folders Reading, To-Do, Payments, Pending, Reference, and Processed. Many people use their smartphones to go through their emails, in such a case you will not have to look at various folders and sub-folders to identify your emails.
The Time-based method can also work for some busy professionals. For example, you can have the following folders, and every time a new email comes, just assign it to the specific folder.
- Inbox– for all your messages
- Today– for emails you need to take action immediately
- This Week– for emails that aren’t urgent, but you need to work on later in the week
- This Month– for emails that are low-priority and can wait
- FYI– emails that serve as information which don’t require any specific action from you.
Pro Tip: Use Rules in Outlook to automatically move your messages to the right folder.
Want to know even a better way to organize your emails
- File 90% of emails at the click of ONE button
- Find Folder’s quickly without hunting through large folder tree’s
- Send & File emails with just one click
QuickFile is a Microsoft Outlook add-in for serious emailers. The digital equivalent of a filing clerk, it organizes your email by sorting it into folders. It’s faster, easier and more efficient than building mail rules and it can keep tabs on email from each of your contacts.
Well, these are 10 Outlook tips you can use to maximize your productivity and efficiency with Outlook.