Increase Productivity with Outlook®

Use Outlook to Get OrganizedQuite simply, technology has changed the face, and the pace, of information distribution and the way we conduct our day-to-day lives. Not only has it changed how we do business, it has also had a profound effect on our personal lives.

With technology so prominent today, it would seem logical that it offer some of the best solutions to problems associated with increased workloads and the complexity of life. Equipped with the right system, you can let technology work for you, strategically managing activities and tasks, as well as ensuring your goals and objectives are attained.

While there are a number of programs available, we focus specifically on Microsoft Outlook®.

Outlook was designed to make organizing your daily information almost automatic. It pulls together everything you need to know about your daily tasks, appointments, e-mail messages, and other details. It can act as your assistant in dealing with the flurry of small but important items.

Using containers such as Calendar, Contacts, E-Mail, Notes, and Tasks, Outlook becomes a highly functional organizing system. As the backbone of any organizing system, these containers provide the necessary homes for the items you need to process and manage your life efficiently.

Before you utilize these containers, you need to simplify your decision-making process. When faced with new information, you must apply The Principle of A.R.T.© and decide whether you need to act on it, record it or toss it.

Act ~ Can it be handled now? Do I have enough time? Do I have enough energy? As a general rule, if it can be handled quickly, do it.

Record ~ If you determine that an item cannot be handled immediately, enter it into your system.

Toss ~ Items that do not enhance your life and have no value can be immediately tossed!

Productivity, and ultimately profitability, can only be achieved and sustained by focusing on tasks and activities that bring you closer to your goals and objectives. If you are the least bit skeptical of using a system, using Tasks properly will make a believer of you almost immediately.

Tasks is an action container for you to record activities you need to do to bring items closer to completion. Think of it as your “to do” list. Many times these lists remain exactly that, things that you still need to do. These lists often fail because they do not identify the next activity to be done to bring it closer to completion. As such, they remain on the “to-do” list far too long. Failing to identify the next activity invites procrastination. Since most lists represent only partial reminders, they cause us to review information more than once before deciding what to do with it.

The best practice for recording your task is to preface each entry with its appropriate next activity. Many of the tasks you perform are similar in preparation and completion. Preface each item with the required activity type and similar tasks will be clustered together, allowing you to maintain focus and efficiency.

Your Task list should include the following activity types: Call, Goal, Read, Errand, Pending, Research, File, Plan and Write.

Notes are the electronic equivalent of the sticky paper notes and are a free-form recording tool. While not a lot of functionality has been given to this section, Notes are a perfect area for collecting and organizing reference and checklists. They can be sorted and accessed as needed. Notes are not connected to a reminder system, have no scrolling function and have limited display settings, but they function exceedingly well at managing lists.

To increase personal productivity and the speed at which you achieve your objectives, your goal should be to work towards an empty e-mail Inbox. For the most part, it is best to think of your e-mail system as a communication tool and your inbox as a temporary resting ground for items needing your attention.

You can create a proper storage area for each e-mail you need to retain by creating, and using folders and sub-folders under your Inbox. E-mail folders are either Action folders or Reference folders. Action folders contain items that still require your attention, while Reference folders contain items that you feel need to be kept for future use.

It must be easy for you to record things automatically when dealing with information. It must be easy for you to turn to your system every time you pick up the phone, send an e-mail, or get ready to go to a meeting. It must become second nature. You need to be able to work as fast as you think.

Make it a habit to review your system often. Prepare yourself for tomorrow, and allow your mind to be free. A modest investment in time learning how to use these tools efficiently will bring immediate results. Become more productive today ~ let technology work for you!

Please contact us if we can be of any assistance.

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