Do you feel like you often waste time just searching for emails in Outlook? Did you know that Microsoft understands this pain-point, and created a solution to help? They’re called Search Folders, and by using them, you can greatly reduce the amount of time it takes to locate emails.
Search Folders are virtual folders that you setup in Outlook, which gives you all email items that match a certain pre-defined criteria. You will typically find them located at the bottom of your Folder List in Outlook, under the RSS feed. Just look for Search Folders in your Folder list.
There are probably a few Search Folders already setup, even if you aren’t using them. By default, Outlook comes with three Search Folders: Categorized Mail, Large Mail, and Unread Mail.
Categorized Mail – This Search Folder will display only those email items categorized by Color Category. In order for this predefined search to work, you will have to change the criteria to the Color Category you are using. To change the criteria, right click on the Categorized Mail folder, click on Customize This Search Folder, click the Criteria button, and define the colors you are using for categorization.
Large Mail – Includes all email items larger than 100 KB.
Unread Mail – Includes all email items that are marked as unread.
However, just because these are the default folders doesn’t mean you need to use them this way. Feel free to create your own folders with the criteria of your choosing.
To create new Search Folders, either: a) Right click Search Folders, and click on New Search Folder OR b) Click on Folder on the Ribbon at the top, and then click on New Search Folder.
The New Search Folder screen will appear. Microsoft has compiled a list of common uses for Search Folders. Select your use from the list. If nothing in the list matches your needs, scroll to the bottom and click on “Create a Custom Search Folder.” Input / verify your specific criteria, then click okay.
When the Search Folder is created, it automatically begins processing the request. Depending on the size of the search and your volume of email, it may take a moment or two to process.
That’s all it takes to setup Search Folders. Once setup correctly and in place, you should find that the amount of time it takes you to search your emails is greatly reduced. And, if you later find that you spend lots of time searching for something else, you can always setup another Search Folder.
What do you use Search Folders for? Leave us a comment telling us about it.
There are times when you may want to save an email somewhere else, outside of your inbox. Maybe you want to save certain emails, such as client communications, in a folder for all your staff to access. Maybe you only want to save one particular email as a backup.
Regardless of your reasoning, when you save emails outside Outlook, you will want to make sure you are saving the emails in the proper format, so that header information and any attachments remain intact should you need them in the future.
Outlook gives you a few different ways to save your emails. There’s the long way, and then there’s the shortcut. (And who doesn’t love a good shortcut?)
The Long Way
The way most people save an email in Outlook is either highlight or open the email they want to save, and then go to File > Save As. When the Save As window appears, they browse to where they want to save it, and then rename the email, if necessary.
The last thing you have to do in this scenario is make sure that Outlook is saving in the proper format for you to access your information again. You will want to make sure the Save As Type says Outlook Message Format (Outlook Message Format Unicode is okay too).
Unfortunately, if you need to save more than one email, you will have to repeat the process for each and every email that needs saving. Talk about tedious!
An easier way to handle saving emails, particularly multiple emails, from Outlook is the drag & drop method.
Important Tip: When you save emails this way, make sure that none of your screens are maximized, and that you can see both your Outlook inbox and the folder location where you are saving the email. (Two or more monitors come in handy here.)
Then, just drag the email(s) out of Outlook, and into the folder. Rename the emails, and you’re done. Outlook saves the email in the proper message format automatically.
This shortcut is a much easier way to save a large volume of emails from Outlook, saving you time, but it also saves you from the monotony of the “file-save-as” dance. In fact it’s so easy, you may even begin to enjoy saving emails, instead of viewing it as a chore.
Do you have a better way to save emails from Outlook? Leave us a comment and tell us how you save your emails.
In part one of this article, we learned how email, online activity, and interruptions can all kill your productivity. Luckily, habits are learned behaviors which you can easily change, as long as you recognize the problem.
So what are the last two ways you sabotage your productivity?
Meetings are huge time wasters. You may think you are getting something accomplished, but the reality is you are probably just wasting time. This is another way your brain has you fooled. Just because you have a bunch of people in a room talking about something, doesn’t mean that anything is actually getting done.
Instead, try a less is more approach with meetings. Look for ways to reduce the duration and frequency of meetings.
If you have weekly meetings, try meeting twice a month instead. If you find that your meetings are long than an hour, try to reduce the time. Insist on agendas to help keep everyone on topic. And, if you find you have nothing more to say, dismiss the meeting, or stop having them all together.
Most importantly, when you meet, do not try to accomplish any work in a meeting. Discuss problems or findings, assign tasks, and then get out of the conference room. Meetings should be for reporting findings only, not working.
Working Too Long Or Too Late
You’ve been sitting at your desk for three hours straight, and you want to finish this one last project. You can feel your brain is a bit groggy, but if you can just push through it will be done, and you can be onto other things.
But you would be better off taking a break, and coming at it fresh. When your brain and eyes are tired and overworked, it shows in the quality of your work.
Instead, take frequent breaks and your productivity will soar. OSHA recommends a 20 minute break for every hour spent at your desk.
This also applies to working late. Sure, every now and again you may need to work late to finish one last project or meet a deadline, but working late should not be the norm.
If you find that you are working for hours on end, to the point where your projects are taking longer than they would if you are rested, it’s probably a sign you need to pack it in for the night.
A sure way to tell is to read the emails you are sending out. Are they coherent and cohesive, or hard to understand and disorganized? If you have a hard time understanding what you just sent, go home and go to bed.
This concludes our list of productivity killers. While these aren’t the only way you are sabotaging yourself, these are probably the main culprits. When you change these bad habits, you will find extra time on your hands to focus on the work that really matters.
Have you been working hard all week to reduce these time wasters? What was the result? Leave us a comment telling us all about what you discovered. We’d love to hear from you.