All About Outlook Part II: Top Time-Saving Tools

In our previous post, we provided strategies to help you clear your email backlog and set yourself up for efficient mail management. Did you take on this challenge over Easter? Fantastic – because now we’re taking it a step further. In this post, we’re going to identify and explain the specific Outlook features our clients love the most (in other words, the ones we all wish we’d known about years ago).

1. Quick Steps

Quick Steps allows you to create and save standard actions you perform all the time as part of your role. For example, you may receive regular emails about a particular project. You can create a Quick Step so that when you receive a relevant email, instead of having to drag and drop the email into the appropriate folder you simply click on your Quick Step and the email is automatically moved. “Quick Steps is fantastic,” says PEPworldwide:nz managing director Kathryn Anda. “All you need to do is set up a few that work for you – and they will ultimately save you an awful lot of time.”

2. Quick Parts

Quick Parts allows you to save a standard passage of text for easy insertion into your emails. “Quick Parts is brilliant, but not everyone knows about it,” says Anda. “For example, one of our clients is a mortgage broker who constantly has to retype standard paragraphs – it’s always the same thing, bar a bit of tweaking. Using Quick Parts has saved this client so much time.”

3. Rules

As mentioned in our previous post, take some time to think about what’s coming into your inbox and create some rules that automatically move and delete your emails for you. Now take this a step further and use the Conditional Formatting function, which enables you to display emails matching certain criteria in a specified font or colour so you can instantly identify them in your inbox.

Now: approach what’s left of your inbox backlog in the same way. “Start at the oldest email,” advises Anda. “Ask yourself why it’s still there, if you need to keep it and if you do need to keep it, where it should go. Make a decision on it and then move to the next email.” Your goal is to have only unread messages in your inbox. “If you’ve opened it, then you should already have done something with it,” says Anda.

Salesforce sales strategist Stu Jones explains how he uses both of these functions to create a system which works well for him: “I’ve set up a rule so that regular emails, for example daily feeds, notifications and other generic emails, automatically get routed to specific folders for me to read at my leisure. The ones that aren’t automatically filed stay in my inbox but are colour-coded based on their content – for example, emails from certain clients are colour-coded bright green, whereas personal emails are black and internal emails are red.

My inbox therefore contains only emails I need to take action on, and the colour-coding allows me to see at a glance what to prioritise. This process is really beneficial when you spend a lot of time managing email on your mobile, as I do, because it means I don’t have to scroll through loads of emails which aren’t relevant.”

Inbox cleared out? Done. Email management systems in place? Sorted. And now that you’ve stopped living in your inbox, we can explore how to use Outlook’s Calendar and Tasks functions to their full potential. So stand by for our next post: PEP participants’ favourite tips on how best to manage your calendar and to-do list. And in the meantime, keep that feedback coming in. What works? What doesn’t? We’d love to hear how these tips have helped you. Good luck!