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9 Great Microsoft Outlook Time-savers

By Productivity No Comments

Are you using Outlook to its fullest potential? If not, you’re missing out on a valuable tool that will make your work so much easier. Not only will it incorporate everything you need to do with emails, like make appointments and set “Quick Steps,” it can save you a lot of time. We have 9 great timesavers we want to share with you here.

1. Turn Off Notifications

You know those little pop-ups that appear when you’re trying to concentrate on a project? They are there to let you know that you have new mail. This is great if you’re waiting for an important email. Otherwise, they can be very distracting.

Here’s how to turn these off:

  • Just go to the bottom right-hand side of your screen (in Windows) and click on the little triangle. A check box will come up.
  • You can see here where it says, “Show New Mail Desktop Alert”.
  • Uncheck this and no more annoying pop ups!

You can also do this right from Outlook:

  • Go to the left-hand side of your screen with Outlook open.
  • Select “File” and “Options.”

Under “Mail” you’ll see a bunch of options. Here’s where you can select all the notifications and sounds that simply distract you, and that you don’t need. Ah, peace and quiet for a change!

2. Drag Mail to the Calendar

When you’re in an email, and you want to add a meeting to your calendar, simply go up to the top Ribbon where it says “Meeting” and you can “Reply with Meeting” to all the people on the email stream.

Set up the time and place, and then invite everyone.

3. Block Off Time Slots

Let’s say someone emailed you a proposal and you need to block off some time to read it. Here’s how to do this right from the email and attachment:

Here’s the email with the proposal marked in blue.

Drag the box down to the left where it says “CALENDAR” and it will create a prompt where you can enter the block of time in your calendar, on the day and time that works for you. It will appear as an appointment in your calendar.

When you’re entering time in your meeting time slot, Outlook does some of the work for you.

Say you want to start at 10:00 am. Simply key in 10 and hit TAB, and Outlook will enter the rest (10:00 AM). You can even enter military time. 15:15 TAB and Outlook will convert it to 3:15PM.

You can do the same with the end time as well.

4. The Ignore Button

If there’s an email that keeps appearing in your inbox, but you don’t want to see it anymore, rather than deleting it you can simply go to the Ignore button on the top left, (or Control >Delete) and emails about this subject will automatically go into your Deleted Items.

You’ll get this prompt to ensure that you want to delete the message every time. Check “Don’t show this message again” and click “Ignore Conversation.” You won’t be bothered by the message anymore.

5. The Quick Access Toolbar

Microsoft provides this toolbar in all of their software solutions. You can put some of your most used commands in this toolbar. Simply check the ones that you want to appear. They will always appear at the top of your screen until you remove them.

And you can easily add more commands, as you see below.

Simply highlight the commands to the left and click “Add” and they will appear in your ribbon. To remove, do the opposite. Highlight the commands to the right and click “Remove.”

5. Respond Fast with Instant Messaging

Sometimes you need a fast way to get a message to someone, and email isn’t doing this for you. Right from Outlook, go to the top ribbon to: “Reply All with IM”

Now, you can send everyone on your email stream an Instant Message instead of an email. This comes in handy if you need to get a quick message to your team. However, it only works if your team is connected to you with Microsoft Link. If not, you can do this with Skype as well.

6. Quick Steps

You may recognize this in the top Ribbon. It’s been in Microsoft products since 2010.

Sometimes you do things manually. Or you may set up Rules. For example, “If the email is from Molly Dempsey save it to Project Falcon.” Or something like this. You can also save commands like this in Quick Steps. Here’s one we set to move the message, mark it as read, tag it, and put a follow-up flag on it.

Quick Steps moved the email, categorized it and marked it as read, just as we specified.

There are multiple actions you can choose from in Quick Steps. Start with “Create New” and your selections will pop up. Click “New Message.” Then preset the email that you think you’ll use over and over.

Here’s a Quick Step to create an invoice right from Outlook.

Click the invoice you want (we have one called Tailspin already set up). Outlook will take you to your contact list where you can choose who to send it to.

Then we set the importance level as “High.”

And we simply fill in the information in the preset template, send it and it’s done!

7. Out of Office in Advance

Now you can set your “Out of Office” messages in advance. Remember when you had to do this right before you left town? No more.

Here’s how to set it up:

Go to the “File” menu.

Click ” Automatic Replies (Out of Office)

Then set up your parameters.

Click “Send Automatic Replies” and type in the start and end date, along with the message you want to send when you’re away.

Check the box that says, “Only send during this time range”. Outlook will remember to send the Out of Office message beginning on the date and time you set and stop on the end date and time.

You can also set Out of Office emails for those emailing you from inside or outside your organization. How easy is that?

8. Search Your Email

The search box is right above your emails.

Say we want to find messages from Garret Vargas. All I have to do is type “Garret” and his messages came up.

But as you can see, some other messages popped up here. They probably contain Garret’s name.

Yes, you can see below that Garret’s name was in Katie Jordan’s message. Outlook search capabilities go that deep into your emails. Outlook will even look in attachments in your emails for what you’re searching for.

You can also search the Current Mailbox or All Mailboxes.

And, notice that when you’re in Search you have all kinds of options in the top Ribbon.

9. Look for ? or press F1 for Help

The ? is on the top right of your screen if you ever need help in Outlook or any Microsoft program.

Or, simply click F1 and the Help prompt will appear.

Microsoft Outlook has many other great features. Keep watching this space for more ways to get the most from Outlook and other Microsoft products.

Published on 4th April 2018 by James Berger.

Hiring an IT Company? Make Sure You Ask These 25 Essential Questions!

By IT Support, Productivity, Security, Strategy, Technology No Comments

Selecting a company to maintain your technology is one of the most important decisions you can make for your business. You must find the most competent and reliable IT support provider in your area.

Hiring an IT Company

How do you know if the IT company you’re considering is right for your business?

Some technology companies call themselves the best, but they haven’t kept up their certifications. This is important because the latest certifications validate the skills that their techs learned in their training. With all the cyber threats and new IT solutions today, it’s critical that your IT provider is up to date on their skills.

Don’t just pick a company off the Internet because they’re the closest one to you. Do your research to find out if they are truly qualified to protect your data and meet your organization’s unique IT needs.

The following are some key questions that you should ask any IT provider you’re considering for your business.

  • What are your staff’s qualifications and certifications?
    The right IT company should be able to provide you with information regarding the certifications held by their staff and relay how these will meet your needs.
  • How long have you been providing technology services? They should have a minimum of three years of experience in the service, support, and solutions you require.
  • What Partner Certifications and Technical Specialties do you hold? Ask, for example, if they are certified on Apple devices and Microsoft solutions. Also, ask if they can provide you the latest hardware and software products at the best price.
  • Do you require continuous training of your IT techs? This is the only way to ensure technicians have the most recent certifications.
  • What industries have you worked in?
    Find out if they’ve worked in industries similar to yours. If not, determine if the work they’ve performed for others aligns with your needs.
  • How well do you understand the business applications we use?
    Your business may have specially-built applications to handle needed workflows. Your IT provider should understand how your business technology works and be able to support it.
  • How large is your IT company?
    If they are a small company, you’re more likely to be high on their priority list. However, larger IT companies typically offer a broad knowledge base and capabilities. Plus, their available resources may be more expansive. You must weigh the benefits of each and decide which is best for your business.
  • What kind of customer service can we expect? Do they offer 24/7 service with a live person on the other end of your call, chat or email? Is their help desk staff qualified to address your issues immediately?  If they can’t resolve your problems over the phone or online, how long will it take for a tech to visit your business?
  • Is your onsite service response time backed by a written Service Level Agreement (SLA)? A certified, professional IT company will put what they offer in writing. They should offer managed services with service-level guarantees. What is their “on-time” guarantee? Their SLA should include this as well as information about how you’ll be compensated if they continually show up late, or if they don’t meet the standards detailed in the SLA.
  • What is and isn’t covered by your service contract?In addition to what they do provide, find out what they don’t.  Do they provide fixed-fee services? Are there extra costs, and if so, what are they? Avoid using IT companies that are only interested in fixing what breaks and selling you equipment.  You deserve an IT partner who will work diligently to give you and your employees an IT infrastructure that is secure, reliable, and enhances productivity.
  • Do you offer outsourced CIO Services? Having an Outsourced CIO means your technology will meet your business needs now and into the future. Their CIO should be able to:
  • Develop an understanding of your business and technology infrastructure.
  • Provide recommendations for IT solutions that will promote your success and grow with your business.
  • Construct a Strategic Plan that aligns with your budget.
  • Conduct ongoing evaluations and provide IT performance metrics on a monthly basis.
  • Will you monitor our IT system around the clock? This prevents downtime because they will detect problems early before anything fails.
  • What security services do you offer? How will you protect my interests?Cybercrime is on the rise, and your data must be safeguarded. They must provide up-to-date cybersecurity solutions to protect your computers and network from unauthorized access, malware, phishing, viruses and other forms of cybercrime.
  • Can you monitor our network for cyber intrusions and threats? With all the security incidents today, 24/7 security monitoring is essential.
  • Do you provide Mobile Device Management? When you or your employees use your laptops, tablets or smartphones for business outside of your workplace, they are vulnerable to theft and malware from public Wi-Fi and more. You need the assurance that your data can be remotely wiped from any device if necessary.
  • Do you perform Risk Analyses and Vulnerability Assessments? Your business may require this to stay compliant with government or industry regulations. Plus, this will detect any “holes” in your computer and network security that hackers can take advantage of.
  • Do you provide Backup and Recovery Solutions? You need both an onsite removable backup solution and an offsite one (in the Cloud) to ensure you will have access to your data if it’s stolen, corrupted, accidentally deleted, or damaged due to a flood, fire or another emergency.
  • What’s included in your Disaster Recovery Plan?
    This is extremely important. Be sure to ask about site visits and audits to estimate the recovery time and the impact of a potential failure. Do they have a reliable process in place? How often do they test the disaster recovery plan? Is their staff knowledgeable and ready to react under the worst possible conditions? Also, make sure they can regularly provide the results of disaster recovery tests.
  • Will you provide ongoing Security Awareness Training for our employees? Cybercriminals are constantly developing new techniques to trick your users into downloading malware or releasing confidential information and credentials. It’s critical to conduct recurring and updated security training to ensure your employees recognize these threats and know what to do to prevent exposing your data.
  • Will your IT professionals communicate with our staff in “plain English?” They should be able to relay information in a way you and your employees can comprehend.
  • How do you stay informed about evolving technologies? Do they attend industry events to update their skillsets?
  • Will you migrate us to the Cloud and help us understand how to use cloud solutions? Make sure your IT provider can help you and your employees understand the Cloud, it’s benefits and risks. They should be able to help you find the right cloud services for your unique business needs.
  • Can you offer us different types of cloud solutions? Do they provide:
    • A Public Cloud, so you can securely share space with other clients?
    • A Private Cloud that is dedicated only to your use?
    • A Hybrid Cloud which is a combination of a private and public cloud?
  • How much will cloud migration cost? Migrating your workflows and data to the cloud can provide many benefits, including cost savings, and increased productivity. However, you should ask how much cloud migration will cost, including associated expenses such as maintenance and support.
  • Do you have any case studies or testimonials from existing clients that I can read? Can I contact them? Would you hire a new employee without checking their references? Of course not. So, you should do so with your IT provider. Contact some of their existing clients to find out what you need to know.

 

Published on 20th March 2018 by James Berger.

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear

Get Into the Flow Of Things… Automate Tasks and Eliminate Workflow Waste!

How to Tell If You Need a New IT Service Provider

By IT Support, Productivity, Security, Strategy, Technology No Comments

Outsourcing your IT services can lower your expenses and give you access to today’s most advanced technology. These are common reasons why businesses large and small choose outsourced IT providers. However, there are pros and cons of outsourcing. For instance, while you can definitely lower your costs, you also lose control of one area of business that can significantly affect your daily operations. Read More