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Tame your computer – avoid email overload

9 Jul

With the holiday season upon us, I felt it was a good idea to dust off the tip on how to prevent email overload upon your return from holiday …

Doesn’t it sound tempting to set up a rule that will send all your email received during your time off straight into your bin? Far-fetched? The German company Daimler encouraged setting up the following automatic reply:

I am on vacation. I cannot read your email. Your email is being deleted. Please contact Hans or Monika if it’s really important, or resend the email after I’m back in the office. Danke Schoen.

(See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-28786117 if you want to read more about this novel idea.)
As it probably isn’t very likely that you’ll be able to get away with this where you work, herewith five top tips to prevent email overload upon your return:

  1. Switch on your Out of Office message a day early, so you can clear out your inbox before you leave.
    1. Click the File tab.
    2. Click Automatic Replies.
  1. Forward your mail to a colleague.
    1. Click the File tab.
    2. Click Automatic Replies.
    3. Click Rules, and then click Add Rule.
    4. Tick the Forward check box and enter the name of your colleague who has agreed to keep an eye on your email in your absence.
    5. If necessary, click on the Check Names button.
    6. Consider clicking the Delete check box. (You can always rummage through your recycle bin upon your return.)
    7. Click OK three times.
  1. Automatically move messages where your name is in the Cc box to a folder named when I have time to read this.
    1. Right-click any of your messages.
    2. Select RulesCreate Rule.
    3. Click on Advanced Options.
    4. Tick where my name is in the Cc box (11th from the top).
    5. Click Next.
    6. Tick the first check box (move it to the specified folder).
    7. In the Step 2 box, click on the underlined specified link.
    8. Click on the when I have time to read this folder you created earlier or click on New to create a folder “on the fly”.
    9. Click OK.
    10. Click Finish.
  1. Agree with colleagues they all mark messages about meetings or events to expire after a specific date.
    1. Create the message as normal. (CTRL+N, anyone?)
    2. On the Options tab click on the dialog box launcher  (the tiny arrow) in the More Options group.
    3. Tick the Expires after check box.

Upon your return, any messages about meetings or events that happened during your absence have a strike-through the subject line and will be easy to spot for you to delete.

  1. Send out a message to your main contacts one or two weeks prior to your holiday.

Wishing you all a relaxing, stress-free break.

Tame your computer – set up a second signature

12 Jun

Last week I read a newspaper article on whether or not we should feel obliged to reply instantly to emails received outside working hours. Unless you work across time zones, there really shouldn’t be a need to check your emails in the evening or at weekends. Some companies (like one of my clients) even specifically state that you should only engage in work-related communication outside working time in exceptional circumstances.

But what if it suits you better to send it outside those hours? You could obviously schedule your message to be sent at your preferred date and time (see tip 503). But why not set up a second e-mail signature to make it clear to your contacts that you do not expect an immediate response. That way you can swap between your normal one (sent during office hours) and the one sent outside office hours

Here’s how:

  1. Create your e-mail message as normal. (CTRL + N springs to mind.)
  2. On the Message tab, in the Include group, click Signature, and then click Signatures.
  3. On the E-mail Signature tab, click New.
  4. Type a name for the signature and press ENTER (or click on OK).
  5. In the Edit signature box, type the text that you want to include in the signature.
  6. Click OK.
  7. In the e-mail message, right-click the existing signature and select the name of the signature that you want to use from the drop-down list.

One signature shared widely on social media reads: “I am sending this email at the weekend because it fits with my schedule this week. This does not imply an expectation that you respond outside your working hours.”

Related tips:
Schedule your e-mail message to be sent at your preferred date and time
Switch from one signature to another

Tame your computer – top 10 tips for Microsoft Outlook

1 Apr

For those of you who have been paying attention to my tips this month you probably saw this coming … herewith your favourite Outlook shortcuts with links to the relevant tips, if any. I hope you enjoy them as much as you did the recent top ten Excel and Word tips!

1 CTRL + 1 and CTRL + 2 Toggle between Mail and Calendar
2 CTRL + F Forward a mail message
3 CTRL + G Go to a specific date
4 CTRL + K Check names in address fields and resolve them against the Address Book
5 CTRL + K Insert Hyperlink
6 CTRL + SHIFT + 8 Show/Hide paragraph marks and other hidden formatting symbols
7 F3 AutoComplete Quick Parts
8 F4 Find text in an email message
9 SHIFT + F1 Reveal Formatting
10 SHIFT + F3 Toggle between UPPER CASE, lower case and Sentence Case

Tame your computer – manipulate messages

29 Jan

By default, Outlook only displays the number of unread items in brackets in blue next to the folder name.  But if you want, you can change it to show the total of both read and unread messages, similar to what you might have noticed happens to the Drafts and the For Follow Up folder.

Here’s how:

  1. Right-click the Outlook folder and select Properties.
  2. On the General tab select the Show total number of items radio button.
  3. Press ENTER or click OK.

The setting also applies to your Favorite folders.

The total number of all items will appear in green, rather than blue.

Related tips

Display your flagged messages in a “For Follow Up” folder

How to sort your folder list the way you want it

Tame your computer – simplify your search

12 Dec

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a tip about how to find email messages sent or received between certain dates. What I wrote still stands but now I’ve found a much easier way. (Thanks for the inspiration, Jackie!)

Here’s how:

  1. Open the Outlook folder you want to search (If you don’t know where you have stored the message, you can skip this step and use step 4.)
  2. Click in the Instant Search box in the top right hand corner or press CTRL + E
  3. Type received: <start date> .. <end date>
  4. If necessary, click on Try searching again in All mail Items at the bottom of the search results to search all other Outlook folders

For example, received:01/07 .. 31/07 will find any email messages that you sent or received in July this year. (No need to specify the current year.) Or received:01/01/2015 .. 01/05/2015 will find emails you sent or received between January and May 2015.

I obviously hope you have a good reason for hanging on to stuff from 2015, especially because various survey statistics show that we waste too much time searching for documents and email messages. To be precise, according to a McKinsey report people spend on average about nine hours per week searching and gathering information! So only keep what you need – and know how to find it.

Related tips:

Find that needle in a haystack
Find even more needles in that haystack
Reduce irrelevant search results
Search for messages sent to a particular person during a certain period of time
Find email messages sent or received between certain dates

Tame your computer – specify your search

30 Oct

I hope you’re using the improved search that was introduced in Outlook version 2007? I don’t mean simply typing in the Search box, but using the different buttons to refine your search. For example, use the From button and click on Has Attachments and This Week to find any message from a certain person that you received this week (as long as it contains one or more attachments).

You might have noticed that the This Week drop-down list is restricting you to search for Today, Yesterday, This Week, Last Week, This Month, This Year and Last Year. So what if you want to search for a specific period?

Here’s how:

  1. Click in the Instant Search box in the top right hand corner or press CTRL + E.
  2. Type received:>=d/m AND <=d/m

For example, received:>=1/9 AND <=13/9 will find any emails that arrived between 1 and 13 September 2017.

If you did not find what you were looking for, click on the Try searching again in All Mail Items link at the bottom of the search results page.

Oh, and don’t forget that your 10 most recent searches are saved and can be found when clicking on the Recent Searches button on the Search Tools ribbon.

Related tips:
Find that needle in a haystack
Find even more needles in that haystack
Reduce irrelevant search results
Search for messages sent to a particular person during a certain period of time

 

Tame your computer – paste it PDQ

19 Aug

Do you ever copy and paste text from, say, the web or applications such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint into an email message? If so, you probably first open a new email, then click in the body of the message and finally paste what’s on your clipboard. If so, you can save yourself some time …

Here’s how:

  1. Copy the text or figures or file, as normal.
  2. Switch to Outlook. (Remember ALT + TAB or WIN + TAB to flip through your open windows?)
  3. Press CTRL + V.

Whatever you copied in step 1 is automatically included in the body of the new email message. And as mentioned in step 1, this even works when you copy a file, which will add the document as an attachment to the email. That said, if you want to share one or more files with somebody in your organisation it might be better to send a link to the item, rather than an attachment. See tip 431.

Finally, you can obviously do this copying and pasting even smarter using a macro, but I think the method described above is a great time-saver in itself.

But speaking of macros … on 6 – 7 September we run our next two-day Excel VBA course, aimed at anyone who needs to understand and write code that operates within Excel. If you want to learn how to automate repetitive tasks, add new functionality to Excel and format data into reports why not come along? See http://www.roem.co.uk/msexcvba.php for more detail. Oh, and it’s guaranteed to run!

Related tips:
Tip # 419: Preview and flip through your open windows
Tip # 431 : Send links rather than attachments