5 Great Outlook Hacks For Increased Productivity
Hidden away in the recesses of Microsoft Outlook is a treasure trove of little-used features that can make our lives a much more simplistic and efficient place. There are shortcuts galore and other hacks that will have you finished that company mail so quickly that you can allow yourself a self-congratulatory lean back, stretch and interlocking of your hands behind your head before moving onto the next task. So, I have donned my Indiana Jones fedora hat, went on an adventure and come back with the following gems.
- Save on Repeated Typing with Quick Parts.
If you find yourself repeatedly typing out a passage of text you can save it as a Quick Part which can be easily inserted into your emails. Simply highlight the text in the composer window, then switch to the Insert tab, click the Quick Parts dropdown and select “Save selection to Quick Parts gallery”. In future, when you start typing the phrase, you’ll see it pop up as a suggestion – hit return to insert it in full. You can also select your text with the mouse from the Quick Parts dropdown.
- Deliver Your Message at a Later Date.
If you have some information that you don’t want to share straight away, Outlook lets you defer delivery until a specified time. Write your email, then switch to the Options tab and click Delay Delivery. This opens a requester with a “Do not deliver before:” field; enter a date and time, then click Close. After you hit Send, the message will be held until the specified time for sending. If you’re using an Exchange server, you can now close Outlook; if you’re using POP or IMAP you’ll have to leave the application open until the specified time for delivery has passed.
- Create New Emails and Appointments Instantly.
Over the course of your working day you may find yourself frequently switching back and forth between email and calendar modes. Regardless of whether you’re looking at your inbox or your calendar, you can create new emails, appointments, contacts and so forth using the New Items dropdown on the Home tab. If you don’t want to delve into the Outlook interface, right-click on Outlook’s icon in the Windows taskbar to open a jumplist offering shortcuts to create any sort of new item.
- Automate Recurrent Tasks with Quick Steps.
If you find yourself regularly performing a particular task – such as forwarding an incoming email to a colleague, or inviting a group of recipients to a meeting – then Quick Steps can save you time. You’ll find a set of predefined Quick Steps in the middle of the Home tab, but the real power of the feature comes in defining your own. Click the dropdown arrow and select New Quick Step to create a custom sequence of actions that can categorise, move, flag and delete messages with a single tap of your mouse. Clicking on “Manage Quick Steps…” opens a dialog from which you can duplicate and edit shortcuts, so you can create a range of variations on a theme.
- ‘Post-it’ Notes.
Outlook includes a built-in sticky notes feature. Press Ctrl+Shift+N from anywhere in the Outlook interface to create a new note, which can be dragged and positioned anywhere on screen. By default, notes appear in pale yellow, but you can assign them to categories, which causes them to switch to the associated colour. To manage your notes, click on the Note icon at the bottom of the View pane: From here you can copy, organise and print notes, and also search, via the field at the top-right of the window, for notes containing specific text.
Until the next adventure enjoy being the efficiency king/queen of your office.