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We’re all about making life easier – especially when it comes to high-speed internet, business systems, and workflow. So what’s left now that you’ve got the best broadband and voice service bundled in your office? Some nifty and time-saving email tricks! Here’s our list of things you (probably) didn’t know about Microsoft Outlook:

1. Public Holidays

If you’d like to keep public holidays on your radar, Microsoft Outlook can add them to your calendar automatically. It has nearly 100 different locations to choose from. To enable this, simply go to: Options (File – Options) – Calendar – Add Holidays and choose the countries that you’re working with. They’re set as ‘All Day Events’ by default but you can customize to your heart’s desire with colors, reminders, and even set yourself as Out of Office for holidays that apply.

2. Two Time Zones

When working across multiple time zones, it’s important when setting meetings to avoid setting the times too early or too late. To avoid the joy of fumbling around with Google trying to figure it out, Outlook can help you by showing two time zones at the same time. To enable it, go to: Options – Calendar – Time zones – Show a second time zone.

3. Automatic Colors

Setting pre-defined rules in Microsoft Outlook can help you colorize your emails and meetings automatically. For example, you can set emails received from your boss to a specific color. To do this, choose: View – View Settings – Conditional Formatting (or Automatic Formatting), and you can add simple rules to help better organize your inbox. Your calendar and email have separate sets of rules but they can be accessed the same way.

4. Search Function

You would think the search mechanism is a pretty rudimentary but many people do not use it effectively. Check out this helpful article on how to better narrow your search –

5. Desktop Alert

Desktop Alerts can be distracting, popping up and interrupting whatever you’re focused on at the moment. The brain is unable to do things at the same time effectively, so why opt-in to something that will clearly make you less efficient? To disable Desktop Alert in Outlook, go to: Options – Mail – disable “Display a Desktop Alert” option.

6. Manual Mark as Read

By default, Microsoft Outlook marks items as read after you’ve opened them. This can cause correspondence to get lost before you’ve had a chance to really read it. Try disabling that feature by going to: Options – Mail – Reading Pane – disable “Mark item as read when selection changes”. When you’re done and you want to mark the item as read, use Ctrl+Q.

7. Sharing Calendars

Working cohesively as a team requires coordination – coordinating work, coordinating schedules, coordinating meetings. It can be difficult to schedule a meeting at an appropriate time if you’re unaware of everyone else’s work schedule. Sharing your calendar is the first step to better coordination. Right click ‘My Calendars’, go to Share and then click ‘Share Calendar’.

8. Keeping a Declined Meeting

When declining a meeting, the invite goes away and it is not added to your calendar. Sometimes you’d still like to see the meeting so that it’s on your radar. To quickly remedy this, you can copy and paste the meeting, decline the original meeting and keep the copy.

Now get out there and take on the world with your productivity-boosting tricks!

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