Outlook 2007 Best Practices: Manage your time

By Melissa MacBeth

This article is part of a series from Melissa MacBeth's Best practices for Outlook 2007.

Note:  For details on applying these principles, follow the links in the list and inline below to additional articles.

See links to the rest of the articles in this sequence.

Set up Outlook to work for you

Tame your Inbox with the 4 D’s

Frequently asked questions

Calendars and meetings

Write great e-mail

Do your work with the help of Tasks

Manage time with a daily review

Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 is a tool to help you manage your e-mail, calendar, contacts, and tasks. As such, it is at the center of not only your communications but also your time management. To get the most out of Outlook 2007, we suggest a few basic principles:

  • Reduce the number of places where you read e-mail. Filter all of the messages you need to read into one place — your Inbox — by using a series of rules.

  • Let some e-mail messages pass by. Use rules to send the e-mail you need to read into your Inbox and then let the rest flow untouched into distribution list folders (DL folders). You don't need to read every message sent to you. Only the important ones should go to your Inbox. Remaining messages can be useful to keep — in case you get looped in on an issue, for example.

  • Reduce the number of places where you manually file e-mail. Reduce the mental tax of filing by relying on search to locate messages.

  • Process your e-mail by using the 4 D’s. When reading your e-mail, decide whether to:

    • Delete it.

    • Do it (respond or file for reference).

    • Delegate it (forward).

    • Defer it (using categories and flags) for a second review in your task list.

  • Reduce your to-do list to one list. Use a single to-do list and calendar to manage what you need to do.

  • Work in batches. Use categories to help you group similar tasks together.

  • Use good judgment when sending e-mail. Follow the dos and don'ts of writing great e-mail. Review your time and tasks regularly.

Even if you don't subscribe to all of the best practices described here, following just a few will improve your experience with Outlook 2007.

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About the author

Melissa MacBeth photo Melissa MacBeth is a Lead Program Manager in the Office product group at Microsoft. She worked on several time management features for Outlook 2007, including the To-Do Bar, flags, flagging on send, and the Daily Task List. She lives in Seattle and enjoys gardening.

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