Improve Time Management using easy Microsoft Outlook Tricks

Emails, emails and more emails – we’re bombarded by them almost constantly! We waste so much effort in Outlook taking time to read, time to organise, time to process and time to action.

Follow the quick steps below to embrace some of the fantastic features of Microsoft Outlook and learn to manage your email time effectively!

Steps for outlook

Delete or Ignore It

If you don’t need it, delete it straight away. If you don’t want to receive emails that are part of the same thread, then Ignore It. This moves future emails of the exact same thread to Deleted Items.

Do It and then File/Delete

If you can action in a couple of minutes then do it.  Set a Quick Step to then move the email to a specified folder via a one click. Alternatively set a Quick Step to Reply & Delete, again via a one click.

Delegate It

If it’s not your area, forward to a colleague. Set a Quick Step that forwards the email to a colleague and then deletes it.

Defer It

If you can’t deal with it quickly, set a Follow Up flag for Today, Tomorrow, This Week etc and then find these quickly via a Search Folder.

Drag the email to the Tasks component on the navigation pane to create a task out of the email and set start and due dates. Alternatively, Quick Steps to create tasks from emails.

Create your own Categories and apply to messages which can be found quickly using Search Folders.

Top 20 Outlook 2016 Tips and Tricks

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Get Organised and Clean Up

Reduce emails by Cleaning Up conversations – this keeps the latest email with the email thread but moves the individual replies to Deleted Items.

Create Search Folders by keywords, project names, for follow up, categories, colleague names and more which enables you to find emails in super quick time in your mail box.

Add folders or search folders to the Favourites area to access quickly.

Use Rules to automate actions when emails are received. For example, set a rule for Automatic Replies so that responses to meeting requests (that don’t have content) are moved to Deleted Items.

Manage Actions with Tasks

Use Tasks for things you need to do for single or recurring tasks and set reminders. In many cases emails are actions, so turn these into tasks and reduce down your email inbox.

Try not to enter tasks on your calendar as this becomes overrun with actions.

Using Microsoft OneNote? Flag notes in OneNote and they will be displayed in your Outlook task list.

Don’t forget the Calendar

Enter appointments and meetings only on the calendar. Attach files into your meetings so you have everything together ready.

Use natural language for entering meeting dates quickly. For example, in the Start Time box simply type ‘tomorrow’ or ‘first Monday next month’, or ‘last Thursday in January’ and Outlook does the rest!

You can also enter a number of days and Outlook will work out the date.

Use shortcuts to display your calendar days. For example, select day view and press ALT+2 for the next 2 days, ALT+3 for the next 3 days and so on to ALT+0 which displays the next 10 days.


Taking the time to learn some simple techniques in Microsoft Outlook can save you a huge amount of time in organising and processing your emails!

If reading this has made you feel totally out of your depth, you may be interested in attending one of our Outlook training courses. Alternatively, check out our Microsoft Applications training or Productivity Programs for more areas to improve your efficiency at work!

10 Tips For Simpler, Faster Email Management 

We all wish we could do more with the time we had, but our inbox tends to get in the way of the productivity boost we’re craving. Here, we’re going to take a look at 10 effective email management tips that can help you save time, get productive, and even get a step closer to the dream of ‘Inbox Zero’. 

Tip 1: Use To-Do Folders 

Be more efficient with email folders
Use a to-do folder to organise non-urgent emails

With tools like Outlook and Gmail, it’s easy to create folders that can be used to archive emails, so create a “To-Do” folder for those non-crucial, non-urgent emails that you can get around to when you have the time. 

For more info on how to efficiently use the To-Do lists, check out our organisational skills course.

Tip 2: Save your most common replies 

Outlook provides a tool called Quick Parts (and other email services have their own versions) that allows you to save a frequently-used reply or passage of text instead of having to type it out again and again. 

Tip 3: Take a shortcut 

Quick Steps is another function that allows you to set keyboard shortcuts. Besides marking as read and deleting files, you can also use keyboard shortcuts to quickly send them to a folder of your choosing. 

Tip 4: Make time for it 

One of the most time-consuming habits is continually checking your emails throughout the day. Instead, set a single time-slot to get all your inbox management out of the way at once. 

Tip 5: Organise them automatically 

By creating rules in Outlook, you can filter emails by sender, subject, and email domain so that you can quickly sort more emails into categories, so you don’t end up going through them one at a time.  This and more is covered in our Microsoft Outlook time management training courses.

Tip 6: Clean up in one click 

The Clean Up tool is great for getting rid of unnecessary or redundant emails by deleting any messages that have been entirely quoted or copied in other emails in your inbox. 

Use the Outlook Clean Up tool to organise folders
Save time by cleaning up your folders

Tip 7: Resend your messages 

If you need to draft an email that’s roughly the same as another and you don’t have the right Quick Parts for it, simply start by re-sending an existing email from the “Sent” category and type in the adjustments you need to make. 

Tip 8: Keep your folders small 

Your different email folders are supposed to make it much easier to find specific emails. If they get bloated with too many messages, they no longer have that benefit, so separate folders into subcategories when they start to get too big. 

Tip 9: Sort time-sensitive emails 

Some emails demand an immediate response, while others can wait. For the others, file them by when you need to respond to them with folders like “Reply by Thursday”, so you don’t have to worry about them until they’re relevant. 

Tip 10: Just say no 

If you get annoyed by seeing irrelevant emails, use a shortcut to quickly place them in an “Irrelevant” folder. Once a month, check the irrelevant folder and unsubscribe or filter out the emails you no longer want to receive. 

By being more mindful of when and why you go through the email inbox, setting up automated inbox management, and creating an accessible filing system, you can more quickly get through your emails, which can give you a lot more time to spend on the work that really matters. If you’d like to learn how to confidently use not only Outlook but also Excel and Word, check out our Microsoft Office 365 training courses.


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The Evolution of Project Management [Infographic]


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