Business owners spend at least 2.6 hours per day reading and answering emails (that’s about 27 days every year!).
It’s no secret that we’d all like to know how to spend that time as efficiently as possible. We searched the web to bring you some seriously productive emailing tips and tricks.
Learn to use email better with these must-see Outlook tips and spend those 27 days you’ve gained back doing something fun!
1. Move Complex and Non-Critical Emails into a To-Do Folder
To do this, create three new folders under your inbox folder. The first is a “To Do” folder, and the second and third are subfolders called “Follow Up” and “Someday.” These loosely follow the Getting Things Done or GTD methodology of organizing tasks.
- Right-click your “Inbox” folder and select “New Folder.”
- Title the first folder “To Do.”
- Click the arrow next to the Inbox folder to view your new To-Do folder.
- Right-click the To-Do folder, select new folder, and name this folder “Someday.”
- Repeat to create a “Follow Up” subfolder under the To-Do folder.
- When new emails arrive, move them to the appropriate folder.
2. Use Outlook’s Task List Instead of Clogging Your inbox
If you don’t use a stand alone task management platform, Outlooks task list is a handy alternative.
Some emails don’t require an immediate response, but they do need to be handled before the time you have scheduled to review items in your to-do folder. These items can still be moved to your to-do folder so they’re not clogging your inbox, but you’ll want to make sure that you have a reminder to take care of them before a deadline.
- Drag the email and drop it on Outlook’s task list icon.
- Add a due date and set a date and time to receive a reminder. Save the task
- You can now hover your cursor over the task list icon to see a quick view of your task list, organized by due date.
- Click on the task list icon to open your to-do list and review the respective tasks.
- If you set a reminder, the task will pop up like a meeting reminder at the specified time.
- Once the task is complete, mark it as such to remove the task from your to-do list. Open the task by double-clicking it and click the “Mark Complete” button—or just press the Insert key to quickly mark the item complete.
3. Teach Your Inbox to Declutter Itself
The email server keeps track of the email you read and the ones you don’t. Once you turn it on, Clutter is automatic. As new email comes in, it takes messages you’re most likely to ignore and puts them into the “Clutter” folder. You need to turn on Clutter in Outlook on the web so that you can use it both in Outlook on the web and Outlook.
- You can’t turn on Clutter in the light version of Outlook on the web. You can switch, however, to the full version by navigating to Options > General > Light version and clear the Use the light version of Outlook on the web check box.
- In the upper-left corner of the page, choose the App launcher > Outlook.
- On the navigation bar, go to Settings > Options > Mail > Automatic processing > Clutter.
- Choose Separate items identified as Clutter > Save
- If you see a low-priority email in your Inbox, right-click the message and choose Move to Clutter or drag the email from your Inbox and drop it into the Clutter folder.
- If you see a message that was sent to Clutter by mistake, right-click the message and choose Move to inbox or drag the email from the Clutter folder and drop it in your Inbox.
4. Clean Up Your Inbox in One Click
Outlook will automatically remove all duplicate emails, leaving you with significantly fewer emails to sort through.
- While viewing your inbox, click the “Clean Up” button, and select “Clean Up Folder.”
- Click the “Clean Up Folder” button in the popup to confirm the action.
5. Use Rules to Automatically Sort Emails and Stop Receiving Irrelevant Emails
- Right-click the email, hover over “Rules,” and select “Create Rule.”
- Choose the criteria for the rule:
- “From [Sender]” will execute the rule any time you receive an email from a specific email address or contact.
- “Subject contains” will execute the rule any time a specified subject line is used.
- Select what happens when the rule runs. To sort emails out of your inbox and into the appropriate folder, check “Move the item to folder,” and select the folder where you want the emails to be sent. You can choose the “Deleted Items” folder if you never want to see them, or you can create a separate archive folder if you may need to review the emails in the future.
- Click “OK” to apply the rule.
6. Create Quick Parts for Default Responses to Common Questions
- Highlight the text you want to save in the email, and click the “Insert” tab.
- Within the “Insert” menu, click “Quick Parts,” and select “Save Selection to Quick Part Gallery.”
- Give your new Quick Part a descriptive name and click “OK.” With this Quick Part saved, you can now add that text to any email with just a couple clicks.
- With your cursor in the body section of the email, click the “Insert” tab.
- Click “Quick Parts,” and then select the Quick Part you want to insert.
- The prewritten text will automatically appear in the body of your email, and you can edit and customize it as needed for your new response.
7. Use Quick Steps to Take Instant Action on New Email
Quick Steps allow you to automatically perform long strings of actions based on a trigger. Say at the end of the month you receive a series of invoices from vendors or contractors. Your normal process is to review the invoices, forward the invoices to your accountant, and create a reminder to follow up with the accountant a week later to make sure the invoices were paid. Quick Steps can take care of the last two steps for you with fewer clicks than if you performed the tasks manually:
- Click the “Create New” button in the Quick Steps section of the Home ribbon.
- Give the new Quick Step a descriptive name and select the first action: “Forward.”
- Type your accountant’s email address into the “To” field.
- Click the “Add Action” button to select the second action: “Create a task with attachment.”
- Click “Finish” to create the Quick Step.
- After you review an invoice, you can now execute the Quick Step to forward the email and create a reminder task. Select an email containing an invoice and click the appropriate Quick Step in the Home ribbon.
- The email forward and task windows will open automatically. Click Send to forward the email and set a due date and reminder for the task before saving, if you’d like.
8. Calling Back an Email After Sending
- To recall an erroneously sent email, open the Sent folder and open the email you wish to recall.
- Select the Move option and click on the Actions button.
- Choose Recall This Message.
- To completely delete the message from the recipient’s inbox, choose the option to Delete Unread Copies of This Message.
- If you only need to make a quick change and then resent, choose the option to Delete Unread Copies and Replace with a New Message.
- Then click the OK button
9. Put an End to the Dreaded “Reply All” Forever
- Open the message thread you want to put a stop to.
- Click on the Home button.
- Within the Delete Group option, choose the option to Ignore. This automatically puts all new emails in this thread in your Trash folder.
- You can undo it if needed by going back to the More button and selecting Stop Ignoring. That way, if the offending message thread does turn to important news, you can include yourself in the conversation
10. Why Send a Copy When You can Send a Link Instead?
The trick is to upload files to OneDrive and then send everyone a link to the files. Your recipients can collaborate on the same file at the same time, and you don’t have to scour your inbox for multiple copies.
- Select Attach File
- Browse web locations > OneDrive.
You can tell you’re sending a link to a OneDrive file because the attachment icon will have a cloud on it.
Do you have any other Outlook tips to share?
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