With more than 400 million using Microsoft Outlook, you would likely be using it as your primary means of communication in your workplace. However, the common complaint is that users spend too much time reading and sending emails, which leads to a loss of productivity that makes them work more and seriously impacts their work-life balance. With the constant pressure to perform and adhere to deadlines, it is a small wonder that most people suffer from workplace stress that spills over to their personal lives and affects their family and social relationships. If you don’t want work to take over your life, you will benefit by learning about and implementing some of the following Outlook hacks for boosting efficiency and productivity:
Restrict Email Notifications
Enabling email notifications helps let you know of emails arriving in your inbox. However, a large number of notifications can be annoying, distracting, and a productivity killer, especially when you are trying to get important things done or are in a meeting. However, the good thing is you can adjust the settings on Outlook so that you get notifications of only messages from the people you designate as important so that you are free to focus on getting your job done.
Use the Inbox CC Folder
Many emails you receive during the day are not addressed directly to you, but you copied to keep you informed. While these emails may be important, they do not require any action by you and hence do not need your immediate attention. You can use a specially-designated “Inbox – CC” folder to automatically dump all the emails that have been copied to you so that your Inbox contains only the emails that have been directly addressed to you and may need attention on priority. It will avoid the constant distraction of emails. You can reserve time twice a day to go through all the cc emails and focus on your core function for the rest of the time, giving your workplace productivity a significant boost.
Reduce the Inbox Size
Keeping the size of the Inbox has multiple benefits. You can find the emails you are looking for quickly, and the performance of Outlook is also faster, with the emails loading faster. By deleting unnecessary emails in your Inbox, you can also keep the all-important PST file from becoming too big. A large PST file slows down the system but is also prone to data corruption, which can make Outlook crash, and render your emails inaccessible. PST recovery is a painful process, and depending on the severity of the corruption, it can take some time to restore Outlook for smooth email access. It is a good idea to keep deleting emails that you don’t need instead of leaving them lying in the Inbox. Clearing out the Trash folder and the Spam folder also helps though Outlook does it automatically at periodic intervals. According to Forbes, spam accounted for as much as 45.1% of all emails in 2021.
Compare Calendars for Scheduling Meetings
Everyone hates meetings because they take away vital time that they could have spent on getting things done. It is also true scheduling meetings can be painful as finding a slot where all the participants are available is not easy. The process can also take a long time. It is easier for everyone to share their Outlook calendars so you can see everyone’s availability and schedule the meeting to everyone’s convenience.
Use Focused Inbox
Sifting through the mountain of emails every morning to find the ones that need urgent attention is a pain. An effective way of dealing with the clutter is to use the Focused Inbox, which automatically segregates the important emails from the ones that can be attended to later. You can move emails from one folder to the other.
When you may multiple exchanges of email messages, it can be difficult to keep track of them. Enabling the conversation view can make it easier to follow the thread and respond appropriately. Viewing the emails as a conversation can be a great timesaver.
Adjust the Send/Receive Frequency
If you find yourself clicking continually on the refresh button in anticipation of an important email, you will find that you cannot get any work done in between. It can help to establish the frequency of send/receive email function. If the frequency is set at a long interval, you can set it to receive emails more frequently, and you can stay focused on doing your work.
Using Outlook to handle communication and other business essentials like calendars and notes can significantly boost your productivity. However, tackling a large volume of emails can take a lot of time and effort that can reduce your productivity. It can also result in stress that can, in turn, affect your mental and physical health. Using some of the smart features of Outlook can help you boost your workplace efficiency and reduce stress.