Microsoft Outlook Hacks to Make You More Productive
Microsoft Outlook is mainly known as one of the leading email platforms. What many people don’t realize is that it’s useful in many ways beyond this. If you already use Outlook for email, it makes sense to take advantage of its many other functionalities. Outlook is part of the Microsoft Office Suite, which offers a variety of useful programs such as Word, Excel, Access, and more. However, Outlook itself has many features in addition to email that make it useful for personal and business use.
Productivity and Time Management Tools
Microsoft Outlook has some useful features to help you remember important events and manage your time.
- Set appointments and remind yourself of tasks with the Calendar. You can organize your schedule using a daily, weekly, or annual system.
- Use sticky notes with different colors to remind yourself of appointments, meetings, and tasks. This is the digital version of the traditional sticky note posted on refrigerators or bulletin boards. On Outlook, you can change the color or drag sticky notes anywhere on your screen. This is helpful if your priorities change or deadlines are moved.
- Get check-in reminders so you don’t forget important dates, meetings, and other events. It’s easy to put something on your to-do list or calendar and forget about it. Outlook lets you set up reminders for important tasks. If you’re working on a team project, you can arrange for others to get these reminders as well.
- Use the calendar and set time zones when working with people in different locations. Commerce today is increasingly global. Outlook makes it easier to work across nations and time zones with some simple tools. The calendar can automatically convert from one time zone to another. You can also set it to display a second time zone to avoid confusion. Another useful feature is information about public holidays, both in the US and abroad. This helps you avoid making calls or arranging meetings on days when people aren’t at work.
- Clear space for yourself. Your Calendar isn’t only good for scheduling meetings and appointments; it’s also good for setting aside time for yourself. List certain blocks of time when you’re unavailable for meetings. If you’re not available at a certain time or day of the week, it’s easy to set this up in your calendar with the “recurrence” command. You can also schedule breaks between tasks or meetings on your Calendar to ensure that you have enough downtime.
Manage Customer Relationships
One of the most powerful capabilities that you get with Microsoft Outlook is an enhanced ability to manage relationships with customers. Many users think of Outlook as a way to store simple contact information, so they can send out emails and texts. In 2016, Microsoft expanded Outlook to include a CRM of its own called Customer Manager This tool helps you to better understand your customers, segment them into useful categories, and engage with them more effectively. This is a viable option for getting the benefits of a CRM without buying a separate product or service. The Customer Manager feature of Outlook offers several advantages.
- Organize customer information in one place. If you find that you have to look up data about your customers in many places, Outlook helps you organize it. You can file all relevant information, such as contact info, appointments, goals, and any relevant notes about customers in one place.
- Share customer information with your employees and partners. It’s easy to share customer info with your team so that everyone is up to speed. This helps prevent customers getting redundant messages or phone calls.
- Use the mobile app to access information from anywhere. You can use the iOS app to access information while you’re out of the office.
Other Useful Outlook Tips and Hacks
Microsoft Outlook has many capabilities that most users never learn about. You probably don’t need all of them but some can probably enhance your productivity. Here are a few examples:
- Set up Skype meetings. Skype is one of the most popular platforms for long-distance meetings. It’s easy to arrange a Skype meeting on Outlook using your Calendar.
- Use “Tell Me” to learn how to do or access something. Tell Me is a feature in several Microsoft applications, including Outlook. It presents a text box saying “tell me what you want me to do.” This is a useful feature to access anything you’re looking for, whether a contact name or clarification on how to use an Outlook feature.
- Make many tasks easier with Outlook Add-ons. In addition to the standard features, Microsoft offers a large number of Outlook add-ons. There’s a Roomfinderadd-on to help you find the best spot for a meeting. Internet FreeBusy is useful if you need to consult many people to coordinate meetings. This app shows you at a glance when others are available or already have something scheduled. There are also many other add-ons. Some of these are good for sharing documents and cloud storage. You can, for example, integrate Outlook with both Dropbox and Google Drive. There are also add-ons for many other popular services, including Evernote, Uber, and Yelp.
- Improve efficiency with keyboard shortcuts. No matter what you’re doing in Outlook, keyboard shortcuts can help you do it faster. There are shortcuts for practically every Outlook feature.
Getting More From Outlook
If you use Microsoft Outlook and perhaps other Microsoft Office Suite products, you may as well get as much from it as possible. In the last few years, Microsoft has made a big effort to turn Outlook into more than just an email client. There are now many built-in productivity and customer management tools. Many of these, of course, work hand-in-hand with email. You can, however, also use many of these features for other purposes as well. Outlook is a powerful application for helping you operate your business more efficiently.