ARTICLE: “Outlook Tips and Tricks” by Laura Stack, MBA, CSP

Since so many people seems to be using Microsoft Outlook to handle their email and calendars, I wanted to pass along some tips on how to stay organized. The most important thing to remember is that you should NOT keep old email in your in-box!!!! The biggest cause of in-box overload (and 1100 messages) is indecision. Once you’ve opened it, you MUST (1) delete it, (2) forward it, (3) reply to it (and delete it), (4) move it to Tasks (things you need to reply to but don’t have time to), (5) move it to your Calendar (meetings and appointments), or (6) move it to a Personal Folder (reference information only).

1. To move an email to the Task List:

• Right click on the email
• Select “Move to Folder…”
• Double-click Tasks
• Fill in the Start dates, Due dates, and Subject
• Click “OK”

Email will be removed from your in-box and attached to the task. When you double-click the task on the task list, the email will be attached and can be viewed. 

2. To move an email to the Calendar (meeting and appointment-related emails):

• Right click on the email
• Select “Move to Folder…”
• Double-click Calendar
• Fill in the appointment or meeting date and time
• Click “OK”

Email will be removed from your in-box and attached to the calendar item. When you double-click the item on the calendar, the email will be attached and can be viewed.

3. Create personal folders to describe the different types of email you receive:

• Each person you work with frequently
• Projects
• Clients
• Personal
• Travel items
• Bulletins

4. To archive old email:

• Under “Tools,” Select “Options”
• Select “AutoArchive”
• Select the “Other” tab
• Click the “AutoArchive” button
• Specify how often you want to archive email and where you want it placed

5. To filter your email as it comes in, under “Tools,” Select “InBox Assistant” or “Organize,” depending upon your Outlook version. There you can set up rules for automatically moving email from particular people to certain folders.

6. To customize the layout on your screen:

• Go to “Calendar”
• Select “View,” 
• Then “TaskPad View”

7. For things you need to do every week or month and forget to do (for example, TimeTrax every Friday before you leave):

• To set up a recurring activity, double-click on the TaskPad to enter a new activity
• Fill in the subject and click a reminder if desired
• Click on “Recurrence”
• Specify how often you would like the task to be scheduled for you

8. To automatically have Outlook find a time when all people can meet AND a conference room is available, select the names of the individuals you would like to attend and reserve a conference room by “inviting” it. When through, click “Autopick,” and Outlook will automatically show times that all people and the conference room are available. 

9. When having multiple people edit a document, put the master document out on a shared drive. Then attach a SHORTCUT to the document in your email, not the original document. Each person will then be editing the master document, eliminating multiple edits on your part.

• Save your document to a shared drive
• Right click on the document in the file list to create a shortcut
• Email the shortcut to each person, not the original document

10. To automatically populate your address book, drag the email to Contacts; Outlook will fill in information automatically and keep a history of all emails from that person!

11. Use the “Notes” feature for anything you would normally put on a sticky note! If it’s something you need to DO, use Tasks. But for lists, such as grocery lists, gift lists, VISA DPS passwords, chores, errands, shopping lists, repair lists, birthdays, etc., the Notes feature is perfect! Simply Click “Notes,” “Actions,” and “New Note”

© 2001 Laura Stack. All rights reserved. You are free to use portions of this publication in your company newsletter, provided the following credit is listed at the bottom:

Laura M. Stack, MBA, CSP, is “The Productivity PRO,”® helping people leave the office earlier, with less stress, and more to show for it. She presents keynotes and seminars on time management, information overload, and personal productivity. Contact her at 303-471-7401 or visit her website at