How to deal with endless emails
It is what drives most businesses - it's effective, it's quick and it gets things done. But the endless onslaught of emails that greets us each morning can also be enough to drive people to despair.
Even for the most hard-working corporate, motivation levels can swing in roundabouts. As the little blue box appears in the bottom right corner of the screen, it's sometimes hard not to feel dejected.
"Most people fall victim to it at some point, and the thing is, they're only using their Microsoft Outlook email tool at a fraction of its potential - it can really do all the hard work for you," international motivational business speaker Debbie Mayo-Smith said.
Mayo-Smith has travelled the world giving advice and consulting on ways to make work easier. She maintains in her new book, Conquer Your Email Overload: Superb tips and tricks for busy people, that transforming the way we use emails will see one of the biggest improvements in our working lives.
She said it was also not just the older generations that struggled at times to organise their stocks. But her most common complaints often came from people failing to understand the rules.
"No, not the rules of a very trying and at times pointless game, (although it does feel like that sometimes). Rather rules is a nifty function on Outlook, which if programmed correctly, can act as your very own personal assistant.
Mayo-Smith said the key to taking back control of the inbox was to master the rules function.
"From my experience, out of 100 people only two would know what the rules function is on their Outlook. Out of those two, only one would actually use them, and limitedly."
Through the use of rules, people can file, delete, respond to and set up tasks without a single click of the mouse or press of a button.
Most corporates get upwards of 100 emails a day. For those of us who work from a rather large mailing group, whereby everyone in the group gets an email generally only meant for one or two people, the number can be much higher.
Among various other tasks, Mayo-Smith sends a monthly newsletter to more than 20,000 people worldwide who have signed up to be on her mailing list.
"It's no surprise that when that goes out, I'll get hundreds of "out of office" emails, as well as delivery error notifications and also maybe book orders in return and all those emails need to be dealt with."
Mayo-Smith said rules takes care of the lot. Her "out of office" emails are automatically deleted, the delivery error notifications are filed so the addresses can be removed from the mailing list, and book orders are filed for her to take care of when she has a moment. Mayo-Smith is left with about 30 emails a day in her inbox for her to sort through before getting onto her important tasks.
Found under tools in Outlook, the rules and alerts function will basically organise its own set up. "It will be your best friend if you let it".
Creating an event for every task and meeting can be tedious. Finding the right date, changing the time, filling in the details and categorising it correctly - some people almost need to time to schedule their calendars.
But it doesn't need to be that hard, said Mayo-Smith, especially if all the details you need are already in one email. Simply drag and drop that email into the calendar button on Outlook and it will automatically open up an event with all the necessary details filled in.
However be sure to double-check the time and date as even computer programmes can make basic errors.
People and businesses can shell out thousands in licensing fees for Customer Relationship Management packages, when they've already got one in their Outlook. And for the most part, all they need to know is how to do is drag and drop.
By dragging and dropping an email into the contact button, in much the same way the calendar trick works, a new contact will folder will be automatically opened up with the sender's details already filled in.
For those who have to send the same email on a regular basis, setting up a template might not be a bad idea. Some people do this by setting up different signatures, but Mayo-Smith said a function called QuickParts can be much more effective. QuickParts sadly, is only available for those running Outlook 2007 or later.
The tool allows people to reuse entire emails, or even snippets of emails and pictures. With just the click of a button, your email is composed.
Mayo-Smith said those four tips alone, could free up two to three weeks a year from needless or repetitive jobs. Her book, full of thousands more, not just related to Microsoft Outlook, is quickly becoming a hot commodity worldwide, which is not surprising when considering the way emails have creeped into our lives.
Nearly 300 billion emails are sent worldwide every day, and as of last year, there were more than 3 billion email accounts. Of all the emails sent last year, about 39 per cent were malicious.
Mayo-Smith's book is full of strategies on how to maximise your time and minimise email junk left to wade through. But what it was not, she said, was an operational menu on how to use Outlook.
For more information and tips visit www.debbiespeaks.co.nz
- © Fairfax NZ News
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