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Microsoft Outlook – Make the Most of It

Isn’t it annoying? You’re looking at next month’s calendar to schedule a meeting with a client, you go to their contact record for their phone number, and when you go back to the calendar, it’s re-set to today. You have to do extra clicks to get back to the date you were looking at. Same thing happens if you pull up a contact, then go to your calendar, tasks, or email. When you return to contacts it goes to the beginning of the alphabet, and you have to hunt again for the correct contact.

Here’s the solution. In the navigation pane on the far left, right-click on the new folder you want to go to, then left-click on “Open in New Window” in the submenu. It opens a new window on top of the existing one which remains open underneath. Drag one window over, and you can view both contacts and the calendar (or the taskpad, or whatever) side-by-side. If you want to view multiple contacts and dates you can keeping opening new windows – your only limit is the size of your monitor.

Use Your Inbox as a To-Do List

This one is more of a time management tip that applies to any program you use for email, not just Outlook. Most people, once they’ve deleted unneeded emails, simply leave the ‘keepers’ in their Inbox. This can lead to serious email overload. An acquaintance of mine has over 8,000 emails in her Inbox!

Instead, create folders to store emails you must keep. The result – your Inbox only holds new messages and those you still need to act on; everything else has been filed away. Your Inbox becomes an extension of your To-Do list. This improves productivity and reduces the number of things that “fall through the cracks.”

See the Entire Day and Evening at a Glance

Would you like to see all your day and evening hours on the calendar without having to scroll until your wrist hurts? Here’s how: Right-click on calendar background. (You can be either in the daily, weekly, or monthly view, just so you click on the background and not on an appointment.) In the submenu that appears, click on “Other Settings,” and you’ll see a dialog box labeled “Format Day | Week | Month View.” Set the Time Scale field to “60 minutes.” Now you can see all the day & evening hours without having to scroll up and down.

Outlook Tracks Your Activities, Past and Future

An excellent, little-known feature in Microsoft Outlook is the Activities tab of the contact record. (In Outlook 2007 it’s a button, not a tab.) The Activities tab contains a comprehensive list of every meeting, task, and email related to every person or company (ie, contact) in your Outlook database. If you use the journal to make notes of important phone calls, they’re listed here too. You must remember, though, to link meetings, tasks, and journal entries to the appropriate contact – unlike emails, they’re not linked by default. Try it – you’ll spend far less time looking for information in Outlook once you get into the habit of using the Activities tab.

Sorting Your Contacts

Need to sort contacts by criteria such as which project they’re related to, what industry they’re in, or where you met them? Or perhaps you need to sort tasks by project or client? Sorting this way is a huge time-saver, but you first have to label your contacts and tasks. Frankly, the best way is by use custom fields, which is easy to do in Act! or Goldmine.But unfortunately, in Outlook – if you want much more than name, address, phone number, department, etc. – you’re moving into programming.

A easy workaround is to use categories instead of fields. Categories are accessed via the command button in the lower right corner of the contact, appointment, and task dialog boxes. This button takes you to the Outlook’s Master Category list where you can create new categories for client, project, referral source, industry, or anything you wish. (You can also delete any the default categories you don’t need.) Once you’ve created your categories, it’s easy to assign contacts, tasks, appointments, journal notes, and emails to categories. There are situations where shoehorning categories to make them do the work of fields can cause problems down the line, but for many people it’s adequate.

Syncing

The built-in Outlook-Palm sync utility is limited and will only sync a limited number of categories. If you create a lot of custom categories, you’ll need to buy a decent sync program. Check out those from DataViz, CompanionLink, or Chapura.

Backing Up ALL Your Microsoft Outlook Data and Views

There are 2 kinds of people – those who have lost their contact database and those who will. If you’ve customized your Outlook and then tried to restore it from the pst back-up, you’ve learned the hard way that it doesn’t look like it’s supposed to. Sure, Microsoft’s website explains how to do a complete back up, but the instructions are so complicated that I doubt anyone has understood them, much less gone through the whole process. A great alternative is Eazy-Backup software – check it out!

* The usual disclaimers apply. My mentioning these products is not a guarantee of any sort. Obviously, you should not change anything until you ve completely backed up your files. You already do that, right?

Copyright Jan Jasper 2008

Article Source Link by Jan Jasper