5 Tips to Improve Your Efficiency with Microsoft Outlook 

5 Tips to Improve Your Efficiency with Microsoft Outlook 

First of all, let me clarify what Microsoft Outlook is used for. 

Microsoft Outlook is a software tool that enables emails to be sent and received, management of calendar and contacts as well as creation and management of tasks or things to be done. 

Given the sheer volume of email we receive on a daily basis in business, as a productivity speaker, trainer and course creator, I am regularly asked how to effectively plan your day so you get stuff done and don’t end up wasting your time dealing with other people’s problems or issues…..unless of course, that IS your job! 

Because Outlook supports users in business so much, my 5 tips to effectively plan your day are focussed on effectively planning your day with a focus on email management and leveraging Outlook’s calendar feature to plan.  They don’t just focus on one day either, they focus on topics that when applied to how you work with Outlook EVERYDAY can save you hours of stress and frustration and turbo charge your personal productivity. 

Tip Number 1 

Schedule It 

Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is credited with saying “…schedule your priorities.” 

Covey’s research found, the likelihood of you completing a task or dealing with something is significantly increased if you schedule it into your calendar. 

Got an email or task that needs to be dealt with and it is going to take 5 minutes or longer?  Switch over to your calendar and schedule an appointment with yourself at a day and time to get it done.  Once it is in your calendar, that blocked time stops colleagues from booking meetings as you are now showing as not available. 

Plan your day for maximum productivity by scheduling tasks onto your calendar to ensure they get done.


Tip Number 2 

Open Microsoft Outlook in Calendar View 

When I work with clients, most people open Outlook up in Inbox view and generally leave it open minimized all day, more on that later. 

If you have every found yourself immersed in your emails only to realise you have a meeting you need to get to, you will know how easy it is to get drawn into the priorities of those sending emails. 

Because it is so easy to send emails plus it costs nothing, people send emails to move items off their to do list and onto yours… but not so fast. 

Instead of opening Microsoft Outlook in your Inbox each morning, why not open it in calendar view.  Opening Outlook in calendar view offers the benefits of reminding you of your priorities and meetings for the day and allows you to choose whether you want to go straight into your emails or if you need start preparing for a meeting or task you need to complete. 

Not sure how to set Outlook to open in your calendar? 

Check out this video below  

Tip Number 3 

Utilize Outlook’s Email Rules 

Microsoft Outlook has a range of email rules that can be created, activated or modified to assist in the management or processing of emails. 

For example, set up an email rule that checks messages that arrive in your Inbox that are newsletters and have them bypass your inbox and go automatically to a Newsletter folder for you to read at your convenience. 

Setting up email rules is like having your own personal assistant to works out what you need to see in your Inbox right now and what can wait until later. 

Watch the video below to see how to set up an email Rule in Microsoft Outlook. 

Tip Number 4 

Use Email Signatures to “Retrain” Others 

At the bottom of emails you receive you have probably noticed what is referred to as an email “signature”.  Email signatures generally contain information such as email addresses, phone numbers, position titles etc, but they can be leverages to help “retrain” those you email to how you respond. 

Here’s a few ideas of how you could use email signatures: 

Only work part time?

Minimize the risk of customers, colleagues or clients being frustrated because they haven’t received a response by letting them know in the signature that you only work certain days or times.   

Time blocking when you respond to emails?  Mention in your signature that you only respond to emails twice a day for example. 

Want people to call if it’s urgent? Mention in your signature that the fastest way to contact you if it is urgent is via phone and note the best number. 

Need to know how to create a signature? 

Watch this video below 

Tip Number 5 

Shut Down Outlook 

The conversation around email responsiveness and reply times is a separate issue, however one of the easiest things you can do to effectively plan your day is to plan to shut down Microsoft Outlook when you have tasks that require your complete attention. 

Got a monthly report that needs doing?  Apply Tip 1 to block out time in your calendar and providing the task isn’t to respond to an email, then shut down Microsoft Outlook to work solely on the task. 

Whilst we might think multi-tasking is a great idea, reality is many tasks are done much faster and with increased efficiency when the brain isn’t multi tasking. That’s one of the reasons why many countries have banned the ability to send text messages or email whilst driving!  Some things we simply cannot multi-task without severe consequences. 

The key here is you are allowing your brain to focus on one thing, then you can go back to emails.  It’s the electronic equivalent of shutting the door to your office.  

Whilst they may seem simple, applying these 5 Tips to Improve Your Efficiency with Microsoft Outlook will have a massive impact on your personal productivity.  You have nothing to lose and only more time to gain….and who wouldn’t want more time in the day? 

Want to get more productive in 2024? 

Book in for one of my upcoming webinars at www.donnahanson.com.au/events 

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *