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The Outlook is rosy…


Say what you like about Microsoft but when it came to Outlook, they really came up with a great productivity tool.  I recently purchased a MacBook, to use as my main home computer, and I’ve been disappointed to discover that I can’t find an Apple equivalent that’s as good as Outlook – to the extent that I’m seriously considering forking out a couple of hundred quid on Outlook for Mac.

Outlook does so many things and is used by so many people that I’m baffled by how little people know about what it can do.  Few people ever seem to have had any training on how to use Outlook, beyond sending an email.  As email, it seems, is the thing that most people struggle with, here are some techniques to help you get on top of your in-box.

The first tip to get on top of your in-box is to stay out of it – or, at least, not dive straight into it every day.  When you open Outlook for the first time in the morning, it probably takes you to your in-box and the temptation is then to start dealing with those emails.  Instead, set your opening folder to your Calendar (Tools>Options>Other>Advanced Options>Browse and choose the Calendar folder). 

Next, stop Outlook telling you when it receives an email (Tools>Options>Preferences>E-Mail Options>Advanced E-Mail Options and uncheck the boxes under the heading “When new items arrive”).  The key thing here is that you check your email when it’s convenient for you, not every time someone sends you a mail.  If you’re doing the latter, you’re effectively treating email like another telephone – and you probably already have a couple of those.

Once you’ve freed yourself from the constant interruption of arriving email, you can concentrate on other things.  A really good habit to get into is only checking your in-box every couple of hours or so – if you like, you can book out half an hour in the calendar to do this, so that you get into a routine. 

Why do this?  Well, if you were trying to lose weight, imagine how you’d feel if someone regularly waved a cream cake under your nose, telling you how delicious it was.  You wouldn’t be very happy, would you?  It would make losing weight that much harder.  If you’re struggling with email, that’s the equivalent of what Outlook is doing to you.  Take some control and give yourself the space to concentrate on your job - which is not, believe it or not, to handle/produce emails.

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