Set up for 2018 success in Outlook

With the year-end and holiday season looming for almost everyone, the time to start thinking about setting yourself up for success is now. While this article addresses techniques in Outlook, you should be able to accomplish similar things no matter what you use for email and calendaring.

Calendar

ListHere are some enlightening questions. Where did I spend my time? How fruitful was that expenditure? In Outlook, you can easily view your calendar items as a list by clicking on the View tab, and in Current View, select List.

If you’ve categorized your calendar items, you can sort them by category and review each one. For example, I categorize training engagements differently than I categorize meetings. (If you’ve ever attended one of my training courses, you know how I feel about meetings!) I’m also diligent about recording the locations for all my sessions.

Sorting by location, I can recognize how often I’ve been to a particular city. This informs my marketing decisions. What clues can you find? If you are unable to determine the classification of your times and places, but would like to, you’ve just identified task number one to set yourself up for success. Determine what categories should identify how and where you spend your time. Know what this tells you and determine how you will use this information.

If you want to preserve this information, export it to Excel and save the file. This will allow you to delete old calendar items that are eating up valuable space.

Email

Open & ExportOne of the most interesting projects I ever did was to export my email to Excel and analyze from whom I was getting email and the contribution of these emails to my work processes. I found everything from great topics for articles and blog posts based on questions from training participants to which sales offers I actually ended up taking advantage of and which I have continued to waste the time and effort to delete.

From this analysis, I rewrote many filtering rules, unsubscribed from mailing lists (safe ones), and developed new folder-review-delete processes for things like social media notifications, credit card payment and statement notifications, and invoices. The endgame is to manually handle as little email as possible.

As you approach your end-of-year cleaning task, consider categorizing certain emails with a tag that says “Write a Rule.” That way, you can address it when there’s time.

Edit messageRemove attachments

Sort email, calendar items and tasks by the little attachment icon. Start deleting attachments that are no longer useful and saving those that are in a particular location. Consider prepending them with the date and sender, for example: Melissa Esquibel 09092017-.doc so you can easily locate the attachment if needed.

Use cloud storage where possible to avoid the risk of saving them on an already full hard drive, especially if regular backups are not taken. If it will help, from the email that you remove the attachments, click on the Action button in the Move group and select Edit Message. You can copy and paste a link or simply copy and paste the file name and path. Save it on the way out.