managing email

Handy Microsoft Outlook Tips

Drag and Drop

Of all of the amazing features in Outlook, Drag and Drop is among the very best. It is a very simple way to reduce email volume and a huge time saver for organizing information in your inbox. No longer do you need to scroll through a long email list to find the one that needs to have an answer right away. Some people drag and drop their email into folders but this feature can be used far more widely than that. In the training seminars I give I teach people how to move email from the inbox into the calendar, tasks, contacts and notes.

Here’s how:

  1. Open Outlook and go to your inbox.
  1. Find an email that you want to move to a Folder, Task, Appointment, Contact or Note.
  2. Put your mouse pointer directly on the email you want to move and press left button. Keep holding it while moving the email to the bottom of the Navigation Pane on the left side of the screen.
  3. When you get to the place you want to move the email, release the mouse button.
  4. (Note: you can use the right side of the mouse as well. It will give you a choice to copy or move.)

If you drag and drop the email onto the Calendar icon, the email subject will automatically be the subject of the appointment although you can easily change it. Note that the email will be in the body of the appointment for easy reference. Add a date, start and end time for the appointment and location (if desired) and save.

If you drag and drop the email onto the Contacts icon, just click save and you will have created a new contact.

If you drag and drop the email onto the Tasks icon, the subject will be the same as the email (although it can be changed). Fill in the start and due date. (You can also fill in the status and priority if desired). A reminder can also be added. The original email will be in the section below.

It’s that easy! Give it a try today.

Quick Steps (for 2010)

Introduced in 2010, this feature allows you to quickly manage any email by using shortcuts. You can do in one click what ordinarily might take several clicks. Each Quick Step can be customized and used on a daily basis. For example: you can move an email to a specific folder and mark it as read. Or you can forward an email. My favorite Quick Step is to reply and delete. With one click both steps are accomplished.

Below are handy Quick Steps actions that you may want to explore:

  • Filing: Move to folder, copy to folder, delete message, permanently delete message
  • Change Status: Set as read, set as unread, set importance
  • Categories, Tasks and Flags: Categorize messages, clear categories, flag message, clear flags on messages, mark complete, create a task with attachment, create a task with text of message
  • Respond: New message, Forward, Reply, Reply All, Reply with meeting, forward message with attachment
  • Appointment: New meeting, create an task with attachment, create an appointment with text of message

Here’s How To Create a Quick Step:

  1. In Mail, on the Home tab, in the Quick Steps group, in the Quick Steps gallery, click the Create New Quick Step.
  2. Click an action type from the list or click Custom.
  3. In the Name box, type a name for the new Quick Step.
  4. Click the icon button next to the Name box, click an icon, and then click OK.
  5. Under Actions, choose an action that you want the Quick Step to do. Click Add Action for any additional actions.

Now go and create new Quick Steps!

Top Ten Email Tips

Follow these top ten email tips and you’ll be pleasantly surprised how productive you will become in handling email and how much time you’ll save. You’ll also discover that it is really possible to reduce (even empty) your inbox.

1. Do not do email first thing in the morning. Once you plan out your day, work on your most important task (MIT) for the first hour you are in the office while you are fresh and alert. Then, start email. (Note: it’s OK to glance through email first thing in the morning to make sure that you have not missed anything significant, such as an urgent email from your supervisor or a cancelled meeting.)

2. Schedule several blocks of uninterrupted email time – one mid-morning and a second in the afternoon. Use a timer to keep you focused and on track. Plan on spending 45 minutes – one hour reviewing email that needs to be handled right away. The rest can wait. When you are checking email, try and stay focused. That means not allowing internal and external distractions. Let phone calls go to voicemail and indicate that you are “busy” on your calendar. If you think of something that needs to be done, jot it down on a pad of paper and continue to read and answer email. Make the best use you can of the email time you’ve allotted yourself.

3. Move or drag email out of the inbox. Do not let it sit there.Commit to making a decision on   each email. Delaying decisions creates havoc in your inbox. Your inbox is not a filing cabinet.   View your email inbox as just that – an In Box — where email arrives that need processing. Imagine how cluttered and messy your kitchen counters might look like if you ignored incoming snail mail. You’d be lucky to find anything.

4. Decide if the email is action or reference. Start at the top of your inbox and look at each email in order. Do not skip around. If it is action, follow the 4Ds (#5). If it is reference and will be needed again, move it to personal documents, shared files or the personal folders in the inbox. Examples of reference folders are: inactive clients, proposals, past projects, and marketing materials.

5. Use the 4D’s of Decision Making. This valuable tool eliminates a lot of the guess work about how to handle individual emails and where to move them. It is a sure-fire way to reduce the email in your inbox.

  • Delete – approximately 50% can be deleted. Ask yourself: Must I keep this? Can I access this information somewhere else if I ever need it? Will this information be out of date by the time I need it? Am I ever going to read it?
  • Do It – if it takes less than two minutes.
  • Delegate It – 30% falls into the do it or delegate it category.
  • Defer It – The 20% that needs to be handled by you directly but takes more than two minutes. Move this email into one of the following locations: your task list (with a due date), your calendar (on the specific day you will work on it) or an appropriate folder to work on later.

6. Set up specific folders for action items, current projects and reference and move email to the appropriate folder. Examples of folders: To Do, To Call, Waiting For (or Pending), Read & Review, Upcoming Meetings/Events, Cases, Clients, Current Projects, Associations. My favorite personal folder is “Read Later”. The email in this folder can wait.

7. When sending an email:

  • Create a strong subject line that is clear and specific.
  • Put your main point in the first sentence; then explain.
  • Tell the reader exactly what you want.
  • Keep the length within a screen size by making your sentences and paragraphs short.
  • Use simple, concise language.
  • Leave lots of white space, making it easier to read and to follow.
  • Be sensitive to the subject – sometimes a phone call or face-to-face conversation is better.

8. Respond to the sender promptly even if you cannot give an answer right away. Let the sender know the email was received. Now the sender will not need to send a follow up note because you were proactive. That will be appreciated.

9. Use “Reply All” judiciously. Usually a reply to the sender is all that’s necessary. Not everyone needs to know you’re leaving for vacation and cannot attend the meeting.

10. Move important folders to the Cloud such as Dropbox and SugarSync. If anything happens to your hard drive, your information will be safe.

Often people with hundreds, or even thousands of emails, feel totally overwhelmed and have no idea where to start. We recommend that they set up a system that works using these tips as a guide and then manage the newest emails first. Ignore the older emails or move them into archives where you can deal with them later.

By using a few of these tips, your inbox will be manageable. Finding the email you need will be much easier. You’re the one in control now.

 

 

Email Etiquette

Everyone uses email these days but many people do not realize the common errors they make on a regular basis. Bill Husted in yesterday’s The Atlanta Journal-Constitution points out three areas where we can all do a better job.

1) Responding to someone in the heat of the moment. There is no taking it back when you write an email when you are angry and hit the send button without waiting until you calm down. As Husted points out, “quick on the trigger” only makes a situation worse.

2) Reply to all — Be extra careful to reply only to the people who need to know. Even though an email has been sent to a number of other people, there is no reason to send your reply to everyone. Were you invited to a meeting? Reply only to the sender. The people in the group don’t  care to know the details as to why someone can — or can not — attend a meeting.

3) Edit your emails — Spelling and grammatical mistakes are a poor reflection on the writer and send a negative message to the reader. The writer did not consider it important enough to re-read and edit the email. While expectations may not be as high as a written letter, it is still important to be as accurate as possible.

There is an exception, however, which is a reply from a phone. It is not always easy to use a small screen and letters so mistakes do happen.

Thanks, Mr. Husted, for your email etiquette suggestions. Do you have one that you would like to send us?

Zero Emails In Your Inbox. Is It Possible?

Have you ever considered what it would be like to have zero emails in your inbox? Most of us have a comfort level and stick with that number. For some it may be 20 while others are happy if they can keep the number to 60. Then there are those who aspire to less than 500. Each one of us has a number. What’s yours?

David Allen from Getting Things Done suggests that the number should be zero. While Allen blogs that zero emails in your inbox will require a definite change in thinking, he thinks it is worth the effort. It is possible to make this change only when you decide that the number you are currently comfortable with is no longer acceptable.

If you are wondering why Allen suggests that we take our inbox from our comfort number to zero, he gives several good reasons. Even though you may flag them and know what emails are already in your inbox, Allen points out that:

1) it takes time — and energy — to go through them every time. This is valuable energy that takes us away from important tasks.

2) the email is still there because you haven’t taken the time to decide how to handle it.

If  you are stressed out by the the number of emails in your inbox, we can teach you the techniques to make decisions on how to handle each email, how to sort quickly and where to put the ones needing further action. Call us at 404-303-8431 or email info@ItsTimeToGetOrganized.com for a free consultation.

 

 

 

Hone Your Email Skills

As efficiency gurus, we’re all about saving time. One way is by being more efficient with your email.

Email is the #1 problem almost every business person deals with daily. It’s too easy to become so engrossed in email that you ignore today’s must-do list. We recommend using a timer or your phone to keep track of time.  How do you manage the time you spend on email? Let us know.

Manage Email Efficiently

Leslie Walden is quoted in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on November 28, 2010, about how to manage e-mail efficiently. She provides tips on how to reduce the number of e-mails in your inbox, how to write an effective e-mail, and how often to check e-mail.

Liz White, the publisher of Atlanta Parent Magazine and Leslie Walden’s client, was interviewed for the article. She spoke about how Leslie helped her make decisions about e-mail and the ways to reduce the number of e-mails in her in-box. To learn more about how It’s Time To Get Organized can help you be more productive, go to http://www.itstimetogetorganized.com/be-more-productive-at-your-desk/.