10 steps to mastering Outlook

Tim Danton
11 Mar 2009

1. Obey the two-minute rule. If an email can be dealt with in two minutes, do so.

2. Get rid of old email. Delete or archive mail that's older than a month, then process the rest - deleting or filing away as necessary. Whatever's left can be moved to a "Reference" folder.

3. Set up folders for deferred emails and those that need an action, and then set up a regular time to go through them.

4. Never open an email without doing something to it. That could be deleting it, quickly replying or transferring it.

5. Consider disabling Outlook's pop-up prompts. Right-click on the Outlook icon on the taskbar and deselect "Show New Mail Desktop Alert".

6. Reduce the number of emails you send. Will it be more effective to phone? Do you really need to cc all those people or hit Reply To All? Think twice.

7. Break your email-checking habit. Try closing Outlook for an hour and switch off your BlackBerry.

8. Learn Outlook's shortcuts. Did you know Ctrl + 3 switches to Contacts, for instance? Pick out the shortcuts you'll find most useful from the list at www.pcpro.co.uk/links/174email2.

9. Use a smartphone smartly. Make sure all Outlook contacts are up to date, so that when you want to call or email on the move, you can do so.

10. Experiment with Outlook's rules. If you always receive a football newsletter but don't want it to interrupt your chain of thought, create a rule to send it to your personal folder automatically.

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