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7 Ways to Better Use Microsoft Outlook

The Most Popular Email Program

Do you know that there are over 1.2 billion Microsoft Office users worldwide? And there are over 180 million Office 365 users? Many of them use Microsoft Outlook as their email program.

Whether you are a business or home user, Outlook has many great features which help you organize your email, calendars and contacts. Many people do not realize that Outlook has some interesting tools, which they are not utilizing. If they did, they would be much more productive.

In this article, we want to point out Outlook features, which you may not use, but are really useful.

Create Reminders from Emails

Instead of separately creating an Outlook reminder, you can create one by dragging and dropping an email to the task list icon at the bottom left hand corner. This shortcut will reduce the time spent on reminders and tie certain emails to specific tasks. Then, you can view your tasks to review any outstanding items.

Use email to create a task.
Drag Outlook Email to Task Icon
Email Task Creation
Create Task and Reminder

Set up an Inbox “cc” Folder

Are you overwhelmed by the sheer number of Outlook Inbox emails? Do you receive a lot emails you are “cc’d” on and not the main recipient? We suggest you create a “cc” subfolder to your Inbox folder and a rule to direct ”cc” emails there. When creating a rule, you will select ” Where My Name Is Not In The To Bo.” Then, forward emails to the new folder.

Create Outlook Rule
Create Inbox-cc folder

This step would eliminate a lot of your Inbox clutter and help you focus on the most important emails. Still, you can check the “cc” folder to see if there are items you need to follow up on.

Use Outlook Email Templates and Quick Parts

Do you find that you are sending the same emails with the same text day after day? If you are a business, are you constantly sending emails with info about your return policy or with answers to the same questions?

Outlook Email Templates

With email templates, you can quickly send the same email many times. To set up an email template, follow these steps:

  1. On the Home tab, in the New group, click New E-mail.

Keyboard shortcut     To create an email message, press CTRL+SHIFT+M.

In the message body, enter the content that you want.

  1. In the message window, click the File tab.
  2. Click Save As.
  3. In the Save As dialog box, in the Save as type list, click Outlook Template.

When you are ready to use an email template, do the following:

Select New Items > More Items > Choose Form.

In the Choose Form dialog box, in Look In, click User Templates in File System.

Select the template, and then click Open.

Outlook Quick Parts

By using Quick Parts, you can greatly decrease your time spent composing emails. Essentially, you are creating shortcuts for text or items you frequently email.

To add a shortcut to Quick Parts, you need to start a new email and type the text you want to add to future emails. Then, highlight this text and click on the Insert tab at the top. Afterwards, click on Quick Parts and Save Selection to Quick Gallery. Finally, you can name this shortcut and save it.

Quick Parts Shortcut Setup
Quick Parts Shortcut Setup

When you work on Outlook emails in the future, you can click on the Insert tab and then go to Quick Parts. If you select the shortcut you created, it will add the corresponding text to the email. Also, you can type in the shortcut’s name and press F3.

Schedule Outlook Emails

By scheduling when you send Outlook emails, you can be much more productive. On the weekend, you may not want to bother clients or suppliers with emails. When you are watching a football game or the latest show on Netflix, you can still work on emails and then schedule them to be sent out at an opportune time the next week.

When writing a new email, select the More Options arrow from the Tags group in the ribbon. Under Delivery Options, make sure to check the box next to Do not deliver before and specify a date. Finally, click send and you’re set.

Schedule Outlook Emails

Specify Outlook Notifications

If you get a notification for every new Inbox email, this can be very distracting. Instead, create a rule to only display notifications from specific senders. If you only want to get alerts for emails sent from your boss, you could right click on one of your boss’s emails and select Rules. Then, you could click on Create Rule. Under Advanced Options, you check off the box next to display a Desktop Alert and Save.

Create Outlook Notification Rule
Create Outlook Notification Rule
Create Outlook Notification Rule

Create Outlook Search Folders

Do you find you spend a lot of time searching for specific Outlook emails? Do you usually do the same email searches? To save time, you can create specific search folders. For instance, if you always look for emails with attachments, then you could make a folder for this purpose.

To create a search folder, click on the Folder tab and New Search Folder. From here, you can select from prearranged criteria like mail with attachments or make a custom folder based on other criteria. Then, the new folder(s)s will pop up under Search Folders on the left side.

Create Outlook Search Folder
Outlook Search Criteria

Use Outlook Conversation Cleanup Tool

A conversation refers to an email chain. When you email someone and they reply, a conversation is created. Imagine a large group working on a project sends many emails back and forth. All you would really need is the last email which contains the entire email chain.

The Outlook Conversation tool analyzes conversations and removes all of the redundant emails. Therefore, you have fewer emails to look at and Outlook data file is smaller. This would help you to work faster and more productively.

Outlook Cleanup Tool
Outlook Cleanup Tool

Conclusion:

Hopefully, this article presented you with some valuable new information about Outlook. If Nucleus Computer can assist you in any way setting up or troubleshooting Outlook or Office 365, please feel to visit our Contact us page.

References:

Office365itpros.com “Office 365 Reaches 180 Million Monthly Active Users” Link to Site

Lifehacker.com “12+ Tips and Tricks to Work Faster in Microsoft Outlook” Link to Site

Makeusof.com “10 Quick Tips to Get Better at Outlook” Link to Site

Techrepublic.com “10 time-saving tips to speed your work in Outlook”  Link to Site

Zapier.com “7 Microsoft Outlook Tips and Tricks for Better Email Management” Link to Site

Cmitsolutions.com “Top 10 Microsoft Outlook Tips to Maximize Efficiency” Link to Site

5 Ways to Use Technology to Be More Productive at Work or Home

How Productive Are You?

Are there times you wish you were more productive?  In the movie Office Space, Peter Gibbons tells the HR consultants “I’d say in a given week, I do about 15 minutes of real, actual work.”1

Now, that’s extreme.  But there are probably times you wish you could have done more.   And you’re not alone.  One study found that the average employee really works 3 hours in a 8 hour day.  He or she spends the rest of the time socializing, eating food and checking social media.2

Technology Trends

This article shows you how to use technology to get the most out of your day, while keeping in mind some major trends.  One trend is that people are using mobile devices more to do just about everything.  In 2017, Americans spent over four hours a day on their mobile devices, including smart phones and tablets. 3   85% of American adults use a mobile device to access news.4

Another major trend is more people are working remotely, including their home.  One study by Zug, Switzerland-based serviced office provider IWG, found that 70% of global professionals work remotely at least one day a week.5

Home Office

 

5 Ways Technology Can Make You More Productive

Remote Access and Cloud File Sharing Services

Through VPNs (Virtual Private Networks), you can connect securely to your work computers and networks.  This technology enables you to get work done from anywhere at any time.  While not typically as secure as VPNs, remote access software like Teamviewer or LogMeIn serve the same purpose.

Cloud file sharing services, like OneDrive, Google Drive and DropBox, let users share and edit docs across devices and locations.  Once a user edits a document, others in his or her group see the changes.  A work crew takes pics of their onsite progress and these become immediately accessible to an offsite builder.

Productive

Note Taking Applications

By using note taking apps, like Evernote, MS OneNote, Google Keep, Headspace and Zoho Notebook, you don’t have to constantly lug a notebook around.  Usually, these apps let you use text, drawings, voice recordings, pics and other media to record a meeting.  Imagine going to a consult at a prospect’s office and taking digital notes.  Because these are cloud-based apps, your co-workers and others see your work in real-time.  And you won’t have to waste time typing out written notes and emailing them to others.

Evernote

Communication Software

By using communication software, like Facetime, Skype, Zoom, Slack and Google Hangouts, people avoid the travel time and expenses of an onsite visit. Technological improvements in communication software make it easy to work in teams.  For instance, with Zoom and Skype people can share computer screens and look at documents together.

Slack lets team members organize communications in many flexible ways.  Groups work in channels, which can be based on teams, projects, clients or other categories.  For instance, one channel could include the sales team, while another channel could made of all employees from different departments working on a project.  Also, Slack allows channel members to do voice or video calls and share files.  Finally, they can get team members’ feedback and search conversation history.

Productive

Task and Project Applications

By using task applications, like Wunderlist, Microsoft To-Do, Google Tasks and Omnifocus, you can be more productive.  The Wunderlist app lets you create something as simple as a grocery list or as complex as a project plan.  Also, it helps team members work collaboratively on projects.  Because it is cloud based, users can share lists, make edits and provide feedback.  Finally, you can set notifications to remind the team about important deadlines.

 

productive

Digital Transactions

Many businesses and individuals are stuck in the past in this area.  If you still collect client payments by depositing checks at the bank or taking credit card info over the phone, there are quicker ways to do this.  For instance, field staff can use card scanners or mobile apps to collect credit card payments and client signatures.  Also, you could deposit checks remotely using mobile scanning apps.  Finally, many companies collect payments through a merchant account like PayPal.  For bookkeeping purposes, you could sync PayPal with Quickbooks.

Productivity

Additional Suggestions to Be More Productive

There are several other applications you may want to look into to increase your productivity.  Below, please find a brief summary of each.

ClickTime

ClickTime is an application which employees, managers and executives use to manage employees’ time, team projects and company budgets.  Traveling employees can use the mobile app or go online to report expenses to the central office.  They can enter each expense and take a picture of the receipt for quick reimbursement.  Also, ClickTime offers many reports which enable managers and businesses to see in real-time projects’ profitability.  Finally, this app integrates with CRM and financial products, like Salesforce and Quickbooks.

For more info on this app, check here:  ClickTime

RescueTime

RescueTime is a software application, which tracks your web browsing and offline habits.  It provides detailed reports about your activity.  This way, you see how you are spending your day and how you can be more productive.  In addition, you can set goals for the day or week and track your progress towards them.  Also, you can set up notifications for certain activity.  For instance, you can create an alarm which will notify you when you have spent one hour on Facebook in a day.

For more info on this app, check here:  RescueTime

Boomerang (for Gmail)

Have you ever wanted to schedule when email(s) are sent?  Boomerang is an add-on to your browser, which will allow you to do this and use Gmail more productively.  With this add-on, you can also schedule reminders.  If someone has not responded to your initial email, you can schedule a notification to follow up at a certain date.  Boomerang Respondable analyzes your email drafts and provides feedback on how to improve the content.

For more info on this app, check here:   Boomerang

 

 

 

 

 

References:

1  Methodshop.com “Top 27 Quotes From Office Space.”  Link to Site

2  Businessinsider.com “8-hour Workday May be 5 Hours too Long Research suggests.”  Link to Site

3 Hackernoon.com “How Much Time do People Spend on Their Mobile Phones in 2017.”  Link to Site

4 Niemanlab.org “Percent of Americans use Mobile Devices to Access News and Seniors are Driving That Number up.”  Link to Site

5 Cnbc.com. “Percent of People Globally Work Remotely at Least Once a Week, Study Says.”  Link to Site

The Hidden Cost Of Computer Downtime And What To Do About It

It’s nearly impossible for a small business today to survive without the use of technology. How many small businesses are left that don’t at least use email? The catch is that even if only a small amount of technology is used by a business, it becomes dependent on that technology and can’t properly function without it.

The technology must allow users to reliably and efficiently access the systems and data they need to do their job. If it doesn’t, there are significant costs and these costs are often underestimated. If there is an attempt to quantify these costs, it often doesn’t go beyond just multiplying employee downtime by the employee’s hourly wage. Direct employee cost is only a small part of overall cost of downtime.

losing_money

There are numerous indirect or “soft” costs associated with downtime and though difficult to quantify, they can drain massive amounts of profit from a business.

A major indirect cost resulting from downtime is the cost of poor customer service when systems are unavailable or slow.

poor-customer-service

When a customer calls to place an order, or check the status of an order, and can’t because the system is slow or down, what does that cost in customer goodwill? Will they order again? Are they likely to promote your business? What’s the cost of losing that customer? What’s the opportunity cost of that customer not promoting your business?  What damage results from them actually badmouthing it?

whistpering-290x300

Another indirect cost relates to employee morale. When employees can’t effectively perform their duties because the system or their workstation is slow or down, not only is there lost productivity, but there’s frustration.

cartoon-guy-waiting-for-computer-hour-glass-3-sequential

Frustration can affect employee morale and employees can feel management doesn’t provide them the tools they need to succeed or that management in general, doesn’t care about them. Low employee moral can lead to a poor work ethic and employee turnover, both of which can represent huge costs.

So, because of a small businesses’ high dependence on technology, downtime costs are high when that technology is unavailable or inefficient.  The trick becomes minimizing downtime. The traditional “Break-fix” approach to IT management, where nothing is done until something “breaks” is largely responsible for excessive downtime. There is an increasingly popular realization that the Break-fix model is ultimately more costly to the organization than a proactive model. Break-fix is more costly, because it results in an under-performing, unsecure IT infrastructure and therefore MORE DOWNTIME! A key element to the proactive approach is “Remote Monitoring and Management” or “RMM.”

monitoring-image-1

RMM services watch over computers and networks 24/7 and identify conditions requiring attention. This allows for identifying issues before users are affected to minimize downtime. Additionally, if systems do need to be taken offline for repair, the work can be done non-intrusively, off hours to minimize business disruption.  Here are some of the things that can be monitored …

  1. Computer hard drive space (did you know that when a hard drive reaches 80% capacity, it starts to slow down)
  2. Computer hard drive performance
  3. Computer hard drive health (is the hard drive badly fragmented, developing bad sectors or about to fail?)
  4. Computer processor performance
  5. Computer memory performance
  6. Operating system stability – are all the latest patches applied?
  7. Power usage and battery backup charge
  8. Temperature monitoring – are hardware components ready to fail or does the cooling fan need to be replaced?
  9. Network speed
  10. Anti-virus status – are file definitions up to date and is the anti-virus software running?
  11. Security – do operating systems have the most current security updates and is the firewall preventing un-authorized access?
  12. Backup status – is the backup software running?

Remote maint & security

When left un-monitored, all these things can result in significant downtime. Poor security for example can cause systems or data to become unavailable when a cyberattack occurs. Significant downtime can be incurred waiting for systems to be restored or cleaned of a virus.

bored-woman-at-keyboard

Sometimes poor security can result in more than just downtime costs. For example, if internal or customer information is stolen or compromised, there’s potential law suites, increased insurance premiums and more lost goodwill with customers, prospects and possibly employees. You don’t have to look outside the Philadelphia area to see an example of this. In March 2016, Main Line Health Systems had personal information of more than 10,000 employees and 2,000 physicians stolen in a data breach. This not only affected the public image of the health system, …

Reputation Management

… but also resulted in costs associated with having to provide support services for employees, including credit monitoring and a call center.

 

Another way Remote Monitoring and Management reduces downtime, is by allowing for instant, secure, remote control.

remote-control

This instant control and access to equipment, its configuration and history allows for rapidly analyzing systems and resolving problems, for example, it allows for quickly servicing password reset requests and common lockout issues. RMM in general reduces on-site visits and ultimately save times and money.

With RMM, businesses can avoid the burden of IT management and focus on their core business activities, while professionals make sure systems are working properly. RMM results in lower overall IT cost and costs are incurred at a predictable monthly or other periodic rate.

There are many reasons systems can go down or access can be slow or lost, but if someone isn’t watching over them, these interruptions to business productivity can’t be stopped before they happen. Remote Monitoring and Management is a critical component to reducing downtime and saves big money in the areas of customer service/retention, employee productivity/morale/turnover, third party liability and business reputation.