When you become a working professional, sending emails becomes the new texting; you’ll use email to communicate constantly with your coworkers, managers, and teammates. If your company, like the majority of others, uses the Microsoft Office Suite, you will find yourself becoming extremely familiar with using Microsoft Outlook, which is the tool that manages your inbox and calendar. When I first started working, I referenced Google more times than I can count to figure out certain capabilities on Outlook. Below are 8 of the tasks I wish I had known how to do on Outlook when I began my first job – I hope they help you too!
1. Customize your signature
One of the first things you should do is customize and automate a signature with your name, title, and contact information. It will appear along the bottom of every email you initially send, both saving you time and maintaining a consistent level of professionalism with every message your boss, clients, and prospectives receive from you.
File –> Options –> Mail –> Signatures –> New
2. Set up an automated email response
Even when you’re going on vacation, you should remain communicative with your coworkers and clients by informing them that you are away from the office and unable to respond immediately. This is thoughtful and respectful of others’ timelines and needs because they will be able to revise their expectations of when you will be reaching back out to them.
File –> Account Information –> Automatic Replies (Out of Office) –> Select “Only send during this time range” for both Inside My Organization and Outside My Organization and customize the date and time ranges.
Here’s a sample of an OOO message:
Thank you for your message. I will be out of the office for client meetings from Monday, April 11th, through Wednesday, April 13th, with limited access to email. If urgent, please contact other members of your Company ABC team at xxx) xxx-xxxx. I will respond as soon as I am able.
3. Send calendar invites
Especially if you work in a very time-sensitive industry such as consulting or investment banking, you will need to block out time on your teammates’ and bosses’ calendars for meetings and discussions. This helps you – and them – stay organized and up to date on important happenings.
Home –> Bottom left: Calendar –> New Meeting –> Select recipients. If there are optional attendees, press “To” and along the bottom, add names next to “Optional ->”
4. Automatically organize incoming emails
Many jobs require management of high volumes of email communication throughout the day, and often you won’t have time to sort through each individual email as they roll into your inbox. Create rules that automatically sort incoming emails into different folders (e.g. based on the sender or certain buzz words) so you know exactly where you can find emails by their related subjects.
File –> Info –> Manage Rules and Alerts –> New Rule
5. Create categories to organize your emails
Another (easier) way to keep your inbox organized and easily searchable is to make use of the colored categories available in your Home toolbar. Akin to Post-It notes, these colored categories can be labeled and re-labeled so you can keep track of emails that are urgent, require a follow up, or need additional context.
Home –> Categorize –> Select Color –> Rename Category
6. Use the “Arrange by” filter to search for emails
Once you’ve set some rules to keep your inbox clutter-free (see #4 and #5), you can sort through your inbox using the built-in search tools. One of the most overlooked capabilities of Outlook is the Search Inbox bar (shortcut Ctrl+E), which saves you the hassle of scrolling endlessly down your general inbox to find an email from a few days ago.
7. Search for contacts within your company
You may not necessarily know the email addresses of everyone you’ll be sending messages to, so reference the built-in company address book conveniently located in your Outlook toolbar to search by last or first name.
Home –> Address Book
8. Refresh your inbox and outbox
Sometimes, Outlook gets stuck and your outgoing mail is in limbo. When your email doesn’t seem to send, try to refresh your outbox.
Send/Receive tab –> “Update Folder” or “Send All Emails”
The above 8 tips are just a few of the important things you can do on Outlook. What are some tips that you have for the rest of us? Are there any other tricks you want to know, not just on Outlook, but for any other work-related software? Let me know in the comments below! And if you need some more Outlook how-tos, check out this helpful article.
Keep on Crushin’,