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Email: Outlook Tips

Microsoft Outlook is a fantastic tool for doing business and managing your business and personal life. I am often asked for tips to make more of this tool since so many people use it and so much of business these days is conducted through email. So I have gathered together these great ideas. The first is an essential action for entrepreneurs and is given an exponential boost in power when put into place through Outlook.

1. E pluribus unum: It’s the American way. Be proactive and make a list of all the places you collect information. You may be surprised at how many ‘in-boxes’ you actually have. Then rationalize them by: combining email accounts into your Outlook, forwarding telephone numbers into one voicemail box, creating a single to-do list that captures all of your ‘next action items.’ Think of all the time and effort saved by combining multiple email accounts! Download them into one place, but you can still separate emails by account using filters, if that is your preference.

2. Link to life strategy: Whether it is your business vision and objectives or your bucket list ambitions, Outlook can organize and funnel your precious energies appropriately. Get everything that you have been trying to remember out of your head and ‘inbox’ and put it into your Outlook task list. It can help you answer that commonest of all entrepreneur questions; ‘what should I do next’?

- Keep it simple by ignoring those ‘% complete’ and ‘status’ fields if you really don’t need them.

- Chunk down your big projects. Be specific about the exact small actionable next steps; don’t list project titles as to-dos.

- Be strategic, not reactionary; change your mindset from ‘due dates’ to ‘when you’ll do things.’ Procrastinate with a purpose.

3. Focus on your priorities: With all your to-dos, reminders and tasks listed, it will be clear where your priorities lie and then you are in control rather than being overwhelmed by the enormity of it all. Act in the moment on tasks targeted for today, in the certain knowledge each step takes you towards your goals. From then on, you can add, update and delete from your list and always be on top of your day. Outlook also allows you to assign categories to your task list. Use these to organize your tasks by your broader “Meaningful Objectives,” both business and personal to help you prioritize.

4. Process and organize email: Create calendar appointments directly from emails. Create tasks directly from emails. You can drag and drop them directly to save time and improve accuracy since you won’t have to re-type the data. Include both your business and personal objectives in your task list to achieve a work life balance that will eliminate anxiety about ‘living to work.’ Control inbox folders so you are able to empty them regularly. Use “Create rule” to organize your incoming email. File as much as possible automatically so you can batch process the lower priority emails when you have time, reading the ones you want or just mass deleting them.

5. Build your personal ‘Dashboard’: Outlook can be customized by adding or deleting fields you want in one view. On the one-week page view of your calendar put your “Next Actions” task List organized by category, your “Waiting for” folder and reference folders. Use this as your main screen as opposed to the more tempting one, the inbox, which only causes distractions to your work. Focus on getting your work done and handle emails as “a” task, not “the” task.

6. Manage business contacts: Outlook can organize your contacts with keyword categories like clients, prospects, networking, etc. You can also assign flags to your contacts and they will appear in your task list. Use the ‘Activities tab’ when on a contact to view all data from all Outlook folders. A great Outlook add-on tool to consider is XOBNI. This does a great job of helping you find emails and attachments by searching your entire Outlook files and it even captures email addresses automatically.

7. Regular Review: The entire system works when you trust it and follow it. To-do items lost on a long task list are as useless as slips of paper under a pile on your desk. Create a fixed appointment with yourself at least once a week to review all to-dos and process your inbox to empty every time.

Hope these tips help you achieve your New Year’s Resolutions.

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About the Author

Bernhard Heine, Professional Business Coaches, Inc
94 Canonchet Trail
Marshfield, MA 02050

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