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8 Outlook Hints Everyone Should Know

8 Outlook Hints Everyone Should Know

Outlook hints

While studying and teaching productivity habits, I’ve noticed that many people use Microsoft Outlook for their e-mail and calendar, but have no idea that this tool has many useful features built in. Here’s five hints that could improve your productivity when using Outlook.

1. Public Holidays

If you don’t want to miss public holidays, Outlook can automatically add them to your calendar and it has nearly 100 different locations to choose from!

You will not forget that October 2nd is Gandhi Jayanti in India while November 11th is Veteran’s Day in United States and Independence Day in Poland.

Outlook - Public Holidays

    To enable this, simply go to: Options (File – Options) – Calendar – Add Holidays, and choose the countries that you are working with.

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    Outlook - Public Holidays set

      They are added as All Day Events, so you can freely set reminders, apply colors and mark yourself as, Out of Office.

      2. Two Time Zones

      When you are working across multiple time zones, before you schedule any meeting it’s important to know the time on the other side to avoid setting up a meeting that might be too early or too late. Instead of fumbling around Google trying to figure it out, Outlook can help you by showing two time zones at the same time.

      Outlook - Two time zones

        To enable it, simply go to: Options – Calendar – Time zones – Show a second time zone.

        Outlook - Two time zones set

          3. Automatic Colors

          Your email and calendar can automatically apply colors to your emails and meetings based on pre-defined rules. For example, emails sent to you, when you are the only person on the “To” line, can be colored red. To do that, simply choose: View – View Settings – Conditional Formatting (or Automatic Formatting), and you can add a simple rule as shown below:

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          Outlook - Automatic Colors

            Your calendar and email have separate set of rules, but they are accessed the same way.

            4. Search Function

            A lot of people have used the search mechanism that’s available in Outlook but many people do not know how to use it effectively.

            Outlook - search

              There is a quick introduction how you could do this. It is a powerful mechanism that can save you hours and it’s definitely worth learning!

              5. Desktop Alert

              Your brain is unable to do two things at the same time effectively and every context switch costly. However, I still see many people using Desktop Alert, a distracting function that alerts you every time you receive a new email. This alert can make it hard to focus on your tasks and prevent you from working efficiently. I strongly suggest switching this off and reading more about the Pomodoro Technique.

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              To disable Desktop Alert in Outlook, simply go to: Options – Mail – disable “Display a Desktop Alert” option.

              Outlook - Disable Desktop Alert

                6. Manual Mark as Read

                By default, Outlook marks items as read when your selection changes. Often times, you can get lost in what you did or did not read which can be really annoying, because you want to keep track of the things you’ve already processed. I strongly recommend disabling that feature by going to: Options – Mail – Reading Pane – disable “Mark item as read when selection changes”.

                When you are done and want to manually mark the item as read, use Ctrl+Q.

                Outlook - Auto mark as read

                  7. Sharing Calendars

                  When you are working in a team, especially when you are not sitting close to each other, scheduling a meeting can be hard. When choosing a time, you can only see if someone is busy or not, but you will not see any meeting details. This can be solved by sharing your Outlook calendar. You may ask the whole team to do this.

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                  Outlook - Share calendar

                    After your calendar was shared, everyone will be able to access all the meetings details you have in it. If you want to prevent it for showing certain meetings and events, simply use “Private” flag and only you will be able to access it.

                    Outlook - Private Meeting combined

                      8. Keeping a Declined Meeting

                      Sometimes you want to “decline” a meeting, but still have it in your calendar. To quickly solve this problem, you may copy&paste this meeting (Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V), decline the original meeting and keep the copy.

                      Summary

                      When used effectively, Microsoft Outlook many useful features that will enable you to do your work seamlessly and as efficiently as possible.

                      What are your best hints and tricks when using Outlook? – share them with me!

                      More by this author

                      Piotr Nabielec

                      Author, CEO, Consultant

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                      Last Updated on November 19, 2019

                      10 Smartest Productivity Software to Boost Work Performance

                      10 Smartest Productivity Software to Boost Work Performance

                      Productivity is the ability to perform tasks efficiently and in a timely manner. In today’s busy and competitive business world, productivity is paramount for any business, organization or corporation.

                      Productivity is more than just performing tasks successfully. It is about investing and allocating resources, so the company or business can perform to meet its core goals.

                      As part of 2019, it is important to commit to new goals. When shopping around for new productivity software keep in mind the following things: cost, reliability, cross-platform compatibility, on the go, technical support, etc.

                      In the subsequent sections, we will examine the most recommended productivity software in the marketplace. In addition, we will look at what makes them tick and what separates them from the rest of the pack.

                      Projects and Tasks Management

                      1. Monday dot com

                        Monday dot com was founded to create a team management solution so people connect to workplace processes across any industry. The productivity tool is used in more than 140 countries.

                        The user interface is intuitive and impressive. It makes collaboration productive and fun because of its simplicity.

                        The tool is deemed to have one of the best user experiences across the mobile and online project and task management platform.

                        The product includes usability, customization, admin control, group management and control, private or public control, in-group messaging and more.

                        Check out the software here!

                        2. Asana

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                          The mantra behind Asana’s product is to enable teams from across different organizations to work together effortlessly.

                          The software comes with lots of customizations. When you create a project as a user, you can choose between a traditional task view and the kanban-style board view. The dashboard allows you to see the progress on a project, and it includes an excellent advanced set of search tools.

                          Also, Asana’s Android and iOS apps do retain the web interface’s clean look and feel.

                          Check out the software here!

                          3. Trello

                            Trello was founded in the summer of 2010 and two years later the platform added 500,000 members. Anyone within sales, marketing, HR and operations can collaborate successfully with this product.

                            Moreover, the tool has over 100 plus integrations with Google Drive, Slack, Jira and others. The product works flawlessly across various platforms.

                            Some of the well-known features includes is speed, easy-to-use, and set up. The interface includes due dates, assignments, file storage, checklists and more.

                            Check out the software here!

                            4. Jira

                              The Jira software is flexible and heralded as the next-generation project.

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                              The software allows teams to design and adapt the software to an organization’s needs. This includes having visibility into long term goals, project roadmaps, status of work, real-time release information and more. In addition, the interface is customizable.

                              The Atlassian Cloud does not support multiple separate domains, subdomains or domain aliases in Google Apps.

                              Check out the software here!

                              5. Evernote Business

                                Evernote was founded in 2008 and reached 11 million users by 2011. The company was founded on the premise that their product should address the ever-increasing volume and speed of information.

                                The product helps bring together groups of teams because of versatility and functionality. It creates documents, collaboration on projects, store information all a single location.

                                Moreover, you can find information quickly and includes effective search capabilities and integrations with existing tools you may already use.

                                Check out the software here!

                                Communication

                                6. Slack

                                  Slack was founded in 2013 and the tool is heralded as a collaboration hub. Slack is where productivity happens. When you start a new project, hire new staff, deploy a code, review a sales contract, finalize on a budget, Slack covers all of these. Some of the major highlights include highly customizable notifications and seamless integrations with other collaboration and office tools. The free version of the software comes loaded with features, but does not archive old message. So, you have to review what are the best options for your organization or business.

                                  Check out the software here!

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                                  7. Spike

                                    Newcomer Spike makes emails more conversational by helping teams maintain productivity, communication, and collaboration. All of these are achieved from within their inbox.

                                    Spike works on top of any existing email (O365, G suite, and IMAP) turning it into a real-time messenger and making your communication much more functional and efficient.

                                    Spike’s features include built-in groups and channels, voice and video calls, email encryption, instant access to all your files, and much more.

                                    Check out the software here!

                                    Creation

                                    8. Office 365

                                      Microsoft’s Office 365 could not be excluded from the conversation and especially as it pertains to productivity software.

                                      Of course we are all familiar with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. But there is more capabilities that come with it.

                                      You have business-class email, online storage space, and teamwork solutions. These services can be accessed from just about anywhere.

                                      Within this suite is Microsoft Sway, which is a presentation software and a step above PowerPoint.

                                      Check out the software here!

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                                      9. Grammarly

                                        Grammarly helps to cut down time on editing. Professionals in several industries like law, healthcare, academia, marketing, engineering and journalism use it to provide instant feedback on the accuracy of writing in English.

                                        Once you install the extension from Google Chrome, you can get corrections when you are drafting an email, using social media and other apps.

                                        Grammarly is AI powered and it’s a wonderful tool to have to check spelling and grammar before a presentation.

                                        Check out the software here!

                                        Team Analytics

                                        10. ActivTrak

                                          ActivTrak is a business intelligence tool that allows you to access team behavior analytics. In other words, it is data-driven.

                                          The pros include two-factor authentication with active directory integration. You can also automate your alerts and it has an intuitive interface with easy-to-use admin controls.

                                          Furthermore, it comes with Google sign-in, iOS app, productivity track, and more. The bottomline is the product offers employee productivity metrics along with team behavior analytics.

                                          Check out the software here!

                                          The Bottom Line

                                          Depending on the size, budget, resources, and immediate needs of your company, not all productivity software will exactly solve your problem. You will have to contact any of the providers above and probe extensively to find the right product that is made for your business.

                                          More Productivity Tools

                                          Featured photo credit: Domenico Loia via unsplash.com

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