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5 Email Productivity Tips for Outlook

Today’s inbox can be swarming with emails each hour and become very time consuming if you don’t have control of it. Outlook has become one of the top business applications to handle e-mail on your PC today. From Outlook’s integration across e-mail, calendar and contacts to its rules for minimizing clutter, this hub for communication is a way to keep yourself organized and productive. Even if you’re an avid user of Outlook, you may not be getting everything out of the program as you could. Practicing the tricks below can help you automate steps and take more control of your inbox.

  1. Practice Keyboard Shortcuts to Increase Productivity

Keyboard shortcuts are extremely effective for reducing the time it takes to get through your mail. Those split seconds it takes to switch between your keyboard and mouse add up. When you put these shortcuts to use, they become part of your muscle memory and soon you’ll be speeding through your Outlook tasks. Some of the most helpful shortcuts include:

Ctrl+N: New E-mail
Ctrl+R: Reply to E-mail
Ctrl+Z: Undo
Alt+L: Reply to All
Alt+S: Send E-mail
Alt+W: Forward E-mail

and of course the most powerful of all; Ctrl + Enter to quickly send your message

  1. Customize Your Outlook’s Quick Steps for Your Needs

The Quick Steps function is a huge time saver when you tend to do the same actions again and again. This function allows you to group common actions into a series of hot-keys. This is useful to delegate items rapidly. You can customize the hot-keys and the steps for your needs so you don’t have to waste your time repeating yourself. For example when you’re done with a message you can automate your steps to move the e-mail to a specified mail folder, mark the message complete, and then mark it as read.

  1. Create E-mail Templates for Common Messages

If you consistently type similar thank you e-mails, invoices, reminders or requests you begin to feel like a broken record. Create an e-mail template so in the future all you have to do in copy-paste and simply fill in the current name in the ‘Dear ______’ field to make it personal. To save an email as a template go to ‘File’ > ‘Save As’ > ‘Outlook Template’. Then in the future, when you need to browse saved templates just go to ‘New Items’ > ‘Choose Form’ > ‘User Templates in System’.

  1. Easily Find E-mails with Search Folders

As a professional you save a lot of emails each day to reference back to later. Save precious time sifting through your inbox by creating search folders to access important e-mails. For any search you perform often you can save it be selecting ‘Search Folders’ > ‘New Search Folder’. From here you can customize the search for your needs. Create folders for searches such as ‘Unread for Follow Up’ or ‘Important Mail’ to easily reference and complete emails fast and efficiently.

  1. Make Rules So E-mails Sort Themselves

‘Rules’ are used to filter and sort incoming identifiable messages a certain way each time. Do you find yourself moving an email from the same recipient to a certain folder every time you receive it? Rules work with an identifiable source and actions, like moving all incoming messages from your boss to a particular folder. This reduces clutter in your main inbox and makes it easy to reference specific messages.

These tips can save you a lot of time in the long run while bringing more value in the short term. Whether you’re an assistant helping in daily administrative tasks or a boss sending highly important e-mails to your team, you can make the email rules and email sorting your own. Soon your workflow will feel natural and you’ll thank yourself later.

Bonus Tip

You can customize your inbox to show only message you want to see and find vital information in seconds. Click the ‘View’ tab on the ribbon toolbar to change your options. There are many options available from customizing it to show only your most recent emails to formatting the layout completely. By selecting ‘View’ > ‘Change View’ you can choose from preset views for displaying your emails. When you move to the ‘Message Previews’ tab in the ‘View’ tab, you can either choose to turn previews off or reduce them from 1-3 lines of text beneath the headline. For more advanced options of viewing, enter ‘View Settings’ to add columns or rearrange their order. Arrangement options let you sort emails by Date, Subject and so on while the layout options let you customize the folder and reading pane. Once you have arranged your inbox the way you look, click ‘Change View’ > ‘Save Current View As New View’. Then save it with a name and return to ‘Change View’ for future access.

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