I would like to share with you just three tricks to use in Microsoft Outlook that have completely changed my email experience and general workflow. We all know how overwhelming an inbox can be, and many of us feel the immediate impulse to answer those emails rather than letting them linger.
I like to call this the “culture of immediacy”, the idea that because something can be immediate, it should be. These tips I’m about to show you are designed to help you break free of that culture, give yourself permission to focus deeply on your work, and invite you to consider a fresh outlook on your Outlook experience.
#1: Turn your desktop alerts off!
My recommendation is to consider turning your desktop alerts off entirely when you intend to work on major projects.
First, you will want to access your Outlook. Make sure it’s open, then click File, find Options, and ensure that you are in the Mail settings (the Mail menu).
When you scroll down, you will find a section called Message arrival.
Be default, when you receive new mail your Outlook will play a sound, change your mouse pointer, show an icon, and display a Desktop Alert.
So let me demonstrate what happens. I will send a Hotmail email message to myself to show you what happens. I hear a sound, there’s this new notification over here, and if I was working on something else, my attention has now been diverted or I might click this email to answer it rather than continue my work.
So again, this is about avoiding work disruptions. So let me return to where I was at in my Options menus to see how I could remedy this.
In order to turn these alerts off, all you have to do is uncheck the boxes you don’t want anymore. When you turn these alerts off, you are able to
A) work for long durations on a given task without interruptions, and then you’re able to turn them back on if you need to at a later time, or
B) you can feel empowered to just turn them off entirely and keep them off limiting your email checking to only certain times that you designate during your workday.
#2: Choose a different start and exit location!
The second tip I would like to share involves accessing the Advanced menu. So just as there was a Mail menu, we have an Advanced menu on the side.
Find the section labeled Outlook start and exit. That’s near the top. By default, your Outlook is designed to show you your inbox as soon as its opened.
So again, that culture of immediacy assuming that the first thing you’ll want to do is respond to other people. My recommendation would be to consider choosing another place.
For example, my Outlook is set up to open to my Calendar which means that before I am answering any emails or responding to questions or addressing other people’s tasks. I have had the opportunity to look at my schedule for the day as well as tasks I’ve been given for the day.
It’s become a much calmer, focused way to begin my day’s work. So let me show you how to do that.
What you’re going to do is click Browse. The same way you might attach a file to an email, and choose the place that you want your Outlook to open to. Be sure to click OK to save any of these settings that you change in these menus on the side.
#3: Utilize Atomic Learning
My final tip would be to explore all of the bells and whistles of Outlook such as Tasks, Notes, and the Scheduling Assistant through the web-based training videos available at Atomic Learning for the Butler community. So let me show you how to access that.
First, you will want to in a browser access Atomic Learning from the following webpage: apps.butler.edu/atomiclearning.
It should prompt you for your Butler credentials, and of course, I’m logged in so I’m already there. What you will do here is you can actually search for Outlook to find things. That maybe haven’t been covered in a CAT video or in a CAT training session that you’ve been to. You’ll see here there’s Outlook 2010.
I can click that, and it’s going to take me to many sessions all about the different things I can do in Outlook.