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Four Outlook Time-Saving Features You Might Be Missing

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Raise your hand if you are a busy line of business manager who sees Outlook as a blessing and a curse… and more likely the latter.

Outlook is a necessary communication tool. It can also be a massive time-eater that swallows up hours that should be spent on impactful work. There are mechanisms that improve this situation.

First, email management methods can be adopted to minimize the time spent in Outlook. Second, there are tools within the application designed to make you more efficient.

Here we take a look at four Outlook time-saving features you may be overlooking. Learn More: How to Manage too Many Emails

1. Search Folders to Find Information Fast


Save time in Outlook by creating customized searches so you can instantly find often-searched-for terms. Sure, it does not take long to type out a term in the search bar. But this requires a few more steps than simply clicking the mouse once on a predefined search folder. There are three default Search Folders already set up in Outlook:

  • Unread Mail

  • Large Mail (>100k)

  • Categorized Mail (by colour)

You of course can use these presets. The big secret time-saver is a personalized search folder.

To create one, simply select New Search Folder under the Search Folder in the ribbon tab. There are a few predefined Search Folders to get you started. These cannot be customized but may cover your needs or give you ideas for establishing a folder. If you are creating your own folder, you will then select the criteria for the folder, including the following options in any permutation:

  • Word or phrase

  • From

  • To

  • Time

In addition to saving time with searches, Search Folders also serve as a backstop in ensuring you respond to important emails. For example, messages from a major client or those flagged for follow-up can have their own Search Folders to decrease the likelihood that these correspondences fall through the cracks.


2. To-Do Bar to Stay Organized and On-Task at a Glance

The To-Do bar is a convenient tool for tracking appointments, tasks and recent communications at a glance. The main components of the To-Do Bar are:

  • Date Navigator – a small monthly calendar

  • Appointments – upcoming appointments

  • Unified Task List – all tasks and flagged emails

  • Contact List – your most recent contacts

Many users ignore this bar or delete it, but they are missing out on one of the best Outlook time-saving features that streamline daily responsibilities.

Instead, rely on the To-Do bar as your hub for staying on-task and organized throughout the day - all without clicking out of Outlook. The To-Do bar is at its most advantageous when customized.

There are display options too; thus, To-Do Bar information can be arranged in a format that is easiest for you to glean. For example, you can display more than one month at a time or hide private tasks.

The Task List component can also be personalized according to your preferences. For instance, you can add icons or display additional information about each task to give you more context. There is also a filter option to view tasks that meet specific criteria. Learn More: Time Management Skills and Tools for Managers and Line of Business Leads

3. Quick Steps to Streamline Your Response Process


Responding to emails can be a several step process. The Quick Steps feature gives you the power to automate this routine. By setting up Quick Steps rules, you can quickly highlight, file, respond to, forward, delete emails and more - all with a single touch of the mouse. There are five default Quick Steps that need to be configured before you can use them:

  • Move To

  • To Manager

  • Team Email

  • Done

  • Replay & Delete

As with other Outlook features, Quick Steps is customizable to enhance your workflow. Say you regularly receive emails from a contact at a major account. Whenever you receive an email from this person, it should be filed into a specific folder, forwarded to a colleague and flagged as important. Quick Steps enables all of these actions with one click.

4. Quick Parts to Automate Email Responses

Tired of responding in the same manner to the same inquiring emails? Wasting time regularly sending out email requests with identical information? Quick Parts is your answer.

This is one of the key Outlook time-saving features that generates automated email responses. Create, store and insert boilerplate text. Frequently used phrases and blocks of text, such as directions to a specific location or the answer to an often asked question, are examples of text you can use over and again thanks to Quick Parts.

Additionally, Quick Parts gives you the ability to save email text in the Quick Part Gallery for use at a later time. This feature is especially helpful when sending emails with similar content on a regular basis, such as inviting people to an event or submitting reports.

Finally, Quick Part Gallery text can be designated as auto text. The next time you begin writing the same content, Outlook will suggest the remaining text. When the suggestion appears, simply hit Enter and the text is automatically inserted.

Outlook Time-Saving Features: It’s All About Efficiency


Learning about these Outlook time-saving features is one thing. Adopting them into your workflow is another.

Priority Management knows that line of business leads and other key departmental managers are constantly juggling competing requests and responsibilities. Their most prized commodity is time; their greatest asset is efficiency.

For over forty years Priority Management has been providing productivity insights to business leaders. We bridge the gap between theory and actuality. We are committed to guiding our clients toward measurable, real-world improvements in efficiencies, productivity and impact.

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