Dawn Bjork Buzbee
The Software Pro®
Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT)
Certified Microsoft Office 2010 Specialist (MOS 2010) Master Instructor
Certified Microsoft Office 2007 Specialist (MOS 2007) Master Instructor
Microsoft Certified Application Specialist (MCAS) Instructor
Certified Microsoft Office Expert
Certified Women's Business Enterprise (WBE)
WOSB (Women-Owned Small Business) Certified
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Microsoft research indicates the average Outlook user reads 1800
e-mails & deletes an average of 1500 e-mails per month. Other sources
cite that many corporate e-mail users handle more than 200 messages a
day. How do you manage this volume of messages without coming down with
E-MAIL OCD, that is, the temptation
to constantly check your e-mail?
Microsoft Outlook is a tool to help you manage not only your e-mail
but also your calendar, contacts, and tasks. As such, it is at the
center of not only your communications but also your time management. To
get the most out of Outlook for handling your incoming e-mail, let’s
look at some basic principles.
(Note: although some of the features mentioned are specific to
Outlook, most of these ideas can help you manage your e-mail and time
regardless of the e-mail program you use).
Establish a Routine
Every time you move away from your work to check e-mail, you lose
focus and productivity. When should you check e-mail? There are a
variety of viewpoints, although most time management and productivity
experts agree that one of the keys is to have a schedule or plan on how
and when you handle your e-mail. One approach is to check your messages
first thing in the morning, sometime around lunch, and then near the end
of your work day. Some people shut down Outlook during the other periods
in their day just to avoid the temptation. You may find that a different
strategy works better for you. Most important is to set a routine you
can follow through on so incoming e-mail stops being a big distraction
and energy drain.
Tame Your Inbox with the Four Ds
When reading your e-mail, decide whether to:
- Delete it. If it isn’t important, delete it immediately.
- Do it (respond, file, call, etc.). If it can be done in
two minutes or less, do it.
- Delegate it (forward). If it isn’t for you or if you can,
delegate (forward) it.
- Defer it (using color categories and flags) for a second
review in your task list. If you need to do it, but it takes longer
than two minutes (including reading) defer or hold off on it.
Choose Your Response
Has this ever happened to you—you get a phone call from someone
asking if you received the e-mail they just sent out 15 minutes ago?
Apparently, they are waiting impatiently in front of their computer
expecting you to respond immediately regardless of what you may be doing
at the time. Maybe they should have just called you at the start! Still,
some messages may require a quick response even if you have limited time
while others can wait.
- Acknowledge messages that require a more extensive response.
If you are too busy to respond with a full answer right away,
let the sender know you are looking into the issue and will respond
by a certain time or date. Flag the message to do later.
- Disable automatic alerts. Turn off automatic sounds and
visual alerts so you are not so easily pulled back into your Inbox
every time a new message arrives. Unless you are working with some
critical deadlines requiring e-mail communication or are pressed to
respond ASAP, stick with your chosen schedule for checking and
responding to your messages.
Eliminate the Clutter in Your Inbox
In addition to initiating fewer e-mail messages, look at other ways
to reduce the messages in your Inbox:
- Publish frequently requested information on your company website
and make sure the website is quickly updated when changes occur.
- When you are sending out informational messages that do not
require feedback, discourage unnecessary responses by using formal
language and begin and end messages with No Reply Needed or FYI
- Unsubscribe to electronic newsletters you don’t read and move
others out of your Inbox to folders for reading during travel or
other down times. Don’t unsubscribe to mailings you never initiated
or you may further open the flow of junk mail.
- If you are running Outlook on Microsoft Exchange, setup the Out
of Office Assistant to respond to incoming messages when you are not
available to answer your e-mail. Clearly state your response time,
when you will return, and who can be contacted during your absence.
Apply these best practices and other time management strategies to
free you up from your Inbox.
This article is an excerpt from my
Outlook 2010 Tips, Tricks & Techniques book.
101+ Ways to Make the Most of Microsoft
Outlook 2010 Tips, Tricks & Techniques
for E-mail, Calendar, Contacts, Tasks & Notes
Value priced for as little as $15!
Click Here to Grab Your Copy Now!
© Dawn Bjork Buzbee, MCT, The Software Pro®
Dawn Bjork Buzbee
is The Software Pro®
and a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) as well as a certified Microsoft Office
Specialist (MOS) Master Instructor, certified Microsoft Applications Specialist
(MCAS) Instructor, and a certified Microsoft Office expert. Dawn shares smart
and easy ways to effectively use software through her work as a software
speaker, trainer, consultant, and author of 8 books.
This article and
more can be reprinted at no charge in your publications and website with
copyright and attribution.
more about how easy it is to share these valuable tips, tricks, and techniques.
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Press [F7] to check spelling
in an Outlook message or other item.
|The Ribbon was first
introduced with Microsoft Outlook 2007 and fully available in all
areas of Outlook with Outlook 2010.