Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Control the Emails Received on Your BlackBerry

Is your BlackBerry being overwhelmed by emails (newsletters etc) that you only need to read on a real computer? Do you need a way to receive these emails on your computer but NOT receive them on your BlackBerry?

Recently, I discussed increasing productivity by diverting newsletters etc out of the Outlook Inbox to a dedicated folder ... a folder that you can look at later at your leisure.

To stay productive, it is also important to stop unnecessary emails from being delivered to your BlackBerry.

There are two options for doing this.

Option 1: Use a non-BlackBerry email address to subscribe to newsletters and groups
This only applies for new newsletters or if you are willing to go and change your email address for all the groups, newsletters etc you are already part of. If not … take a look at Option 2 further down.

It's easy to get yourself a 2nd (or 10th email address if you want) using the free email offerings from Google, Yahoo etc.

Get yourself one of those email accounts and use that for any newsletters etc that you want to subscribe to.

Option 2: Configure your BlackBerry to filter out newsletter and group emails

Your BlackBerry comes with an online service that lets you configure exactly what gets delivered to your BlackBerry. It is very easy to use this to filter out (i.e NOT DELIVER TO YOUR PHONE) any unnecessary emails.

The emails will still go to your computer … but they'll no longer clog up your BlackBerry. Let's get started ...

Your service provider should have provided you with a URL to use with your BlackBerry. You should also have a username and password.

Logon to the website using the username and password to display the Email Accounts tab.

Click on the Filters icon on the appropriate email account line.

Click Add a Filter.

Enter all relevant information and then click Add Filter again.

You can now logout from the BlackBerry website.

Provided that you have entered the Filter information properly, you should have stopped a lot of unnecessary information from getting to your BlackBerry.


  1. You become much more productive with your BlackBerry
  2. You'll find that the BlackBerry's battery will last longer since it won't be downloading so much stuff now.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Deleting Email Addresses from Outlook's Auto Complete List

Whenever you type an email address in the To/CC/BCC field of an email, Outlook helps out by showing you a list of email addresses that match what you have typed. This can be very helpful in quickly entering a recipient's email address. But ...

People's email addresses change or you may have stopped communicating with certain people - yet their old email addresses keep showing up in the list.

Deleting Single Entries
It's easy to delete individual items from the list. Type a few characters in the To field to display the list. Then use the arrow keys on the keyboard to move to the old email addresses and click Delete.

Deleting the Whole List
Use with Caution because there is no way of getting the list back!
You can also completely delete the list to start from a clean slate by following the steps in this link:

How to Avoid Sending Emails to the WRONG person

This happened to me yesterday. I used Outlook's auto-complete feature to select an email address while addressing my email and selected the wrong person. I ended up sending the email to completely the wrong person.

My Outlook is configured to send out emails automatically and I wasn't able to stop it ... although I realised my mistake within seconds of clicking Send.

Luckily for me, the content of the email wasn't confidential so there was no real damage done. But things could have been worse ...

Here are two ways to avoid this problem.

Option 1: Disable the Send Immediately function (not my preferred option).

You can setup Outlook to only send out emails according to your preset schedule or when you click Send&Receive.

To turn off automatic sends:

Click Tools-Options.
Click Mail Setup.
Remove the tick next to "Send immediately when connected"

Option 2: Delay all outgoing emails in your Outbox for (say) 30 seconds - this is what I have now implemented

It is possible to do this manually but it has to be done for every email you write … I am way to lazy for a manual solution ... it's not going to happen.

Instead I use the Delay Guard feature in SendGuard 4 Outlook to delay all my outgoing emails by 30 seconds. The settings screen is shown below.

I have set it up so that it asks me if I want the email delayed whenever I click Send (if you find the message intrusive, just remove one tick on the settings screen for all emails to be automatically delayed without the message)

Why 30 seconds? I find that I realise within 30 seconds of clicking Send if there's something wrong with the email I just sent. After 30 seconds I've moved on to something else and the email would have been sent out anway.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Fixing Search Problems in Outlook 2007

Instant Search is one of the best features added to Outlook 2007. The problem was that it never worked well for me … until I carried out a series of quick fixes.


Search in Outlook 2007 uses Vista's (or Windows Desktop's) Search Indexes. If these are not built properly or corrupt you may find that Outlook Search does not work properly.

In my case, Search was failing miserably. It wouldn’t even find words in the email that I was currently on.

There are two possible solutions:

Disable Instant Search (Go back to Outlook 2002-2003 Style Search)

Rebuild the Search Index

Disabling is OK as a temporary solution but is not a real fix.


Warning: This process takes a long time. I suggest you run it just before you leave the office for the day (or just before you go to sleep)

If you are using Vista:

Click the Windows Start button and type "index. Indexing Options should appear under programs.

Click Indexing Options to bring up the Indexing Options screen.

Instruction for Vista Users are continued after the section on Windows XP below ...

If you are using Microsoft Windows XP:
Open the Control Panel:
In Classic view, double-click Indexing Options.
In normal view: Under See Also, click Other Control Panel Options, and then click Indexing Options.

Once your Indexing Options Screen is open ...

Click the Advanced button to bring up the following screen.

Click Rebuid.

Your current Search Indexes will be deleted and rebuilt. Tomorrow morning you should find Search working perfectly again.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Mailing Labels, Emails and Faxes using Microsoft Outlook Contacts

The Holiday Season includes sending out invitations, Christmas Cards, Greetings etc to your friends and customers. Mail-Merge can be a real time saver whether you use the postal service, faxes or emails.

Here are some resources to get you started.

In case you are not sure what mail merge is:

Mail-Merge takes one letter (or email) that you have written and creates personalized copies for everyone you want to send it to i.e. each person's copy will have their own name and any other details that you want written into the appropriate places.

How will you be reaching out to your friends this year ?

1. The Really Old Fashioned Way: Real Cards and Letters in Real Envelopes

Even if you will be sending paper based mail this year, technology can help you.

Here are step-by-step instructions to:

Use mail-merge in Word with Outlook data to create and print personalized letters

Use mail-merge in Word with Outlook data to print mailing labels and envelopes.

2. The Slightly Old Fashioned Way: Faxing

Despite what many people will have you believe, Faxing is not dead.

In fact in terms of deliverability, it can beat email - there is almost no chance that your fax won't get delivered because of an over-zealous spam filter.

You can use Microsoft Word and the free fax printer that comes with Windows 2000/XP/Vista to send out personalized faxes to your customers this year.

The Bad News: Windows Fax and MS Word don't talk easily to each other out of the box.
The Good News: Fax4Word allows you to fax merge straight from Word to the Windows Fax printer.

3. The New Way: Emailing

Out-of-the-box Outlook uses Word to carry out its Mail Merge. Here is a link to a tutorial to do this..

You may also want to take a look at Outlook addon software like eMailMerge 4Outlook.

It takes all the complexity out of doing email merges and replaces it with a simple Wizard ... plus it has powerful features that get around many built-in limitations of Outlook and Word ... plus you can use data from Excel files, Access databases etc.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

How to Write an Effective Email

I read an article earlier today on Writing Effective Articles. The key points raised by the author (Janet Barclay) were:

  1. Identify the action required
  2. Include all relevant information and documentation
  3. Make sure your subject line is specific
  4. Enter the recipient information last
  5. Do not combine unrelated subjects in the same message.

Read the full article How to Write an Effective Email on the author's website.

For some automatic protection, you may also want to try SendGuard 4Outlook.

SendGuard works inside Outlook. It automatically prompts you if it detects that you are about to send out an email with a number of common mistakes including:

  1. You forgot to attach a file that was meant to go with the email
  2. You left the Subject empty
  3. You clicked Reply-to-All and may be accidentally disclosing information to the wrong people.
  4. You clicked Reply (instead of Reply-to-All) and may be leaving some important people out
  5. You used the wrong email account to send out an email

It even has a feature that lets you change your mind about a poorly worded email that you have already clicked Send on.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Let Outlook Highlight Important Emails

You can make better use of your time by getting Outlook to automatically highlight important emails by color-coding them for you.

I subscribe to several newsgroups/mailing lists on the Internet. I use Rules to move these emails out my Inbox to read later so that they don't interrupt my normal work day.

The problem is that one newsgroup in particular has a few hundred emails every day. Most of the topics discussed are of little interest to me.

I'm only interested in emails that have the word Outlook in them.

I've setup Outlook so that it automatically highlights (Red Bold) any email with the word Outlook in it.

This way I don't waste my time scanning through hundreds of emails. I am also able to provide better value to other members of the newsgroup by responding to Outlook related postings quickly.

1. Go to the Folder in which the emails are. This can be the Inbox or any other folder.

2. On the menu at the top, Click View-Current View - Customize Current View to display the Customize View screen.

3. Click the Automatic Formatting button.

4. Click the Add Button

5. Enter a name e.g. "Colour Code Outlook Emails"

6. Click the Font button and using the resulting screen to choose how you want emails to be highlighted (I chose the colour Red and Bold). Click OK to return to the previous screen.

7. Click the Condition button to display the Filter screen and enter your criteria and click OK.

In my case I chose:

Search for the word(s): Outlook
In: Subject and message body

8. Click OK 3 times to return to your Folder.

Your Emails are Now Color Coded

Any emails in the folder that meet the criteria you specified will automatically be highlighted. Any new emails will also be highlighted.

You can use this technique whenever you need to highlight an email e.g. highlight all emails from your most important client.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Receiving newsletters in your Inbox can REDUCE Your Productivity!

Do you subscribe to any email newsletters, mailing lists or groups?

I often mind myself going to check my email and 30 minutes later all I have done is read through "interesting" articles instead of doing any real work.

Microsoft's built-in Rules feature provides a solution.

What are Rules in Outlook?

According to Outlook 2007 Help … A rule is an action that Microsoft Office Outlook takes automatically on an arriving or sent message that meets the conditions that you specify in the rule.

For example … you can set a Rule to automatically move emails from a particular email address out of the Inbox to another folder.

Normally I don't use Rules much because ...

My Inbox is my To-Do list.

I don't want anything automatically moved out of it. Even Outlook automatically moving items after they are read is NOT acceptable because I sometimes leave stuff in there to deal with later.

I want to move emails out myself after I have finished with them - I need to stay in control of my Inbox.

I use QuickFile 4Outlook to simplify email filing out of my Inbox (and Sent Items).

But in this situation it makes sense …

I want the newsletter emails moved out of my Inbox and into a folder dedicated to newsletters.

These emails are not part of my daily to-do-list and I prefer to go through them when I take a break from real work.

How to create a Rule

BEFORE creating the Rule, create a folder inside Outlook where you want the newsletter emails to be moved to. Then ...

Go to your Inbox.
Click Tools.
Click Rules & Alerts.
Click New Rule to display the Rules Wizard.

"Move Messages from someone to a folder" will already be highlighted. (This example assumes that the newsletters come from the same email address - otherwise you can use one of the other predefined Rule Templates)

Click "people or distribution list" to display the Rule Address screen.

Choose a name from the list or type in the name in the From field and then click OK.

Click the hyperlinked word "specified" to bring up the Choose Folder dialog. Select the desired folder from the list and then click OK.

Now that the Rule is created, any emails coming from the list will automatically be moved to the chosen folder.

You can also apply it to any emails that are already in the folder by going back to the Rules and Alerts screen and clicking the "Run Rules Now" button.

Use Rules in this way to move emails that you know are NOT part of your REAL WORK.

This keeps your Inbox clean and focussed on things that need your attention.

I recommend that you don't use Rules to shift work related emails.

Keep them coming to your Inbox and use a tool like QuickFile 4Outlook to manage their filing.

Monday, November 12, 2007

How to Delay/Schedule Outlook Email Delivery

A friend who does a lot of consulting work had a very unusual problem. He often works on reports late at night that end up getting emailed out in the very early hours of the morning.

Problem: The recipient can see the Sent time of the email. In his industry this could be viewed as being very dedicated ... or unprofessional.

Manual Solution: Save the email to your Drafts folder and (hopefully) remember to open it and send it in the morning.

Automatic Solution: Get Outlook to automatically send it out for you in the morning.

Here are the steps to schedule or delay the sending of your emails. After you have finished typing up the email, don't click Send (yet).

In Outlook 2007: Click Options and then click Delay Delivery (on the Ribbon) to display the Message Options screen.

In other versions of Outlook: Click Options on the toolbar to display the Message Options screen.

Under Delivery Options, tick "Do not deliver before" and fill in the relevant date and time. Click Close.

Now click Send!

Your email will be moved to the Outbox but will not be sent out until the first time (after your set time) that Outlook does a Send & Receive.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Saving to Drafts vs Automatic Delay

We recently launched a new Outlook addon, SendGuard 4Outlook. During our morning walk I tried to explain SendGuard's Automatic Delay feature to my wife … to which she replied … sounds like a waste of time to me … why not just save it to the Drafts folder and then send it when you are ready.

Waste of Time???? Now that I have cooled off, I hope that this post will make the benefits of Automatic Delay clearer to my wife (and to any others who may be wondering why they should bother)

What is Automatic Delay?
SendGuard 4Outlook can automatically delay all emails (or selected emails or emails to selected addresses) for a preset time. This means that after you click Send on an email, it will sit in your Outbox for the preset time before getting sent out.

Why Automatic Delay?
Have you ever written an overly sentimental or aggressive email that you wished you could call back?

I have … and most times I realised it within a few seconds of the email being sent. Within a few seconds of the email going out I think …. What have I done???

Saving to Drafts vs Automatic Delay
My wife is absolutely right. You could save your email to the drafts folder and then send it out later.

The reality however is that this is not the way most people work. We write our emails, click Send and move on to the next email.

Even if we changed our method of working, we would then need to remember to go to the Drafts folder periodically to send out all our unsent email(s).

With Automatic Delay … the emails get sent out automatically … unless you change your mind.

What else does SendGuard do?
Automatic Delay is only one of the ways in which SendGuard protects you. SendGuard will:

* Warn you if you forgot to attach a file to an email
* Warn you if you try and send an email with an empty subject
* Warn you if you clicked Reply (instead of Reply-to-All)
* Warn you if you clicked Reply-to-All (instead of Reply)
* Ensure that you use the correct email account for each person you communicate with.

As part of our launch Save 25% if you purchase SendGuard 4Outlook before October 31st.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Common (Costly) Emailing Mistakes in Outlook and How to Prevent Them

If you are running a business, particularly a professional business, these seemingly small errors can make you look unprofessional and waste precious billable time.

Please raise your hand if you ever:

-- Forgot to attach a document to an email message.
-- Clicked Reply when you meant Reply-All or vice-versa.
-- Forgot to write a subject.
-- Emailed someone using the wrong email address (for those of us with more than one email address).
-- Fired off an angry message that you later regretted.

Our latest Microsoft Outlook addin, SendGuard 4Outlook, protects you from all these mistakes by automatically warning you if it detects the possibility of any of the above mistakes (and more).

SendGuard even gives you a way of changing your mind about an email after you have clicked Send.

SendGuard works inside Outlook and times no time to learn - you continue to write and send your emails the same way you always have. SendGuard will automatically warn you and let you take corrective action if it detects a mistake.

You can download a fully functional 30 Day Trial of SendGuard from:

SendGuard 4Outlook works with Outlook 2000, 2002, 2003, and 2007.

If you like it, buy it by October 31st and receive a 25% discount.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Changing your mind AFTER sending your email

I haven't had time to write a post in the last week because we have been busy putting the finishing touches to a new Outlook addin.

This Outlook addin, like most of our products, started off as a solution that we needed ourselves. I have been using a rough form of the addin for a long time and the polished version is almost ready for launch.

I won't give away exact details just yet but (very) briefly ... the new Outlook add-on does automatic checks as you are writing and sending your emails to ensure that they get sent to the correct people with all the required information.

It even gives you a way to change your mind AFTER you click Send.

Has this ever happened to you?

You're having a particularly stressful day and receive an email that nudges you over the edge. The content of the email on its own was not particularly bad ... but combined with everything else that has been happening during the day ...

So one poor person gets a reply from you that is totally disproportional to his original email ... he pays the price for everyone who has been spoiling your day so far.

A minute later you realise that your undiplomatic (and probably unprofessional) reply could come back and cost you dearly.

If there was only someway you could stop that email!

Our new Outlook addin provides a solution for this and many other issues that make your outgoing emails look unprofessional.

Keep your eye out for another post in the next few days announcing the new Outlook addon.

In the meantime, if you're writing any email in a bad mood … don't click Send when you're done.

Click Save instead to save it to your Drafts folder. When you're in a better frame of mind, go back to your Drafts folder, read through and amend the email as needed ... and then click Send.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Tip: Getting File and Folder Paths

One of the things that Microsoft (for some reason) did not implement in Windows ... an easy way to get the full filename (inlcuding the path) of a file. Here are the two quickest ways I know to do this:

In Windows 2000 and XP (and Vista).

Open Explorer and navigate to the file that you are interested in.

Click Start-Run to display the Run dialog box.
Click Delete to empty whatever is currently displayed in the Run box.

Now drag and drop the file (or folder) from the Explorer window into the Run box.

The above tip will also work in Vista if you have configured Vista to have the Run command as part of the Start menu. However Vista also has another even easier method ...

In Windows Vista

Press and hold down the Shift Key and right-click over the file (or folder) you are interested in. Choose Copy as Path and Vista will copy the path to the clipboard.

You can now paste (CTRL-V) the path anywhere you want.

Why Microsoft chose to hide this option by requiring us to press Shift, I'll never know.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Productivity with Outlook's Favourite Folders List

Outlook 2003 and 2007 have a handy Favorite Folders list that can be a major productivity booster when used properly. It can even be used as a project management tool to remind you of what YOU WANT to work on.

When should you use Favorite Folders and how?

I haven't really used Favorite Folders until recently. I use QuickFile 4Outlook to manage my emails. Dragging and dropping can be a nuisance when you have many nested folders and QuickFile lets me file both incoming and outgoing emails (Send&File in one step) at the click of a button. It also has a "Find&Goto Folders" button that lets me open any Outlook folder simply by typing a few characters from the name of the folder.

So there was little use for Favorite Folders … or so I thought. I recently updated my productivity tool set to include it. Here's why …

What is the Favorite Folders List?

Favorite Folders provide users with quick access to mail folders that are used often. They are located at the top of the Navigation Pane on the left side of the Outlook window.

You can add any email folders that you want to this list. The folders physically still stay wherever they were but the Favorite Folders list puts them one click away, and not buried at the end of the folder list.

What Should You Use it For?

Any folders that you use often … but this is what I use it for …

I add my CURRENT PROJECT folders to the Favourite Folders list. This serves two purposes:

1. It provides me with quick access to a folder when I need it.
2. Looking at the list reminds me of what MY current projects are. This way I don’t get as distracted working on other people's priorities because they are making the most noise (via email).

In order to keep the list effective, I maintain it by adding new folders when I start new projects and removing folders once projects are completed.

How to Add Folders to the List?

To add a folder to the Favorite Folders, right-click over the folder and click Add to Favorite Folders. You can also drag folders from the Folder list to the Favorite Folders list.

How to Remove Folders to the List?
To remove folders from the Favorite Folders list, right-click the folder and click Remove from Favorite Folders.

Should you use Favorite Folders?
Definitely YES if you have many folders to organize your email.

For me, Favorite Folders is NOT a replacement for a tool such as QuickFile. You wouldn't want to add too many folders to the Favorite Folders list and it isn't going to Send&File for you.

However it is a handy (free) tool as it is built right into Outlook that can greatly boost your productivity.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Displaying your FULL Work Week in Outlook

By default Outlook displays the working week with 5 days only. Most Professionals and Small Business Owners don't have a normal 5 day working week. We often have appointments in the weekends as well.

Here's how you can change the 5 day view to show the full 7 days ...

If you are using Outlook 2000/2002 or 2003, there are two buttons on the Calendar toolbar that displays weekly views.

Clicking the Work Week button displays 5 days. This shows you the whole day (for each day) including empty time slots. It is easy to add a new appointment by clicking on the calendar in the appropriate time slot.

Clicking the Week button shows all 7 days in a condensed view that only shows appointments for each day. Empty time slots for the days are not shown and it takes more steps to add a new appointment.

Here's how you can change the Work Week to show all 7 days.

Click Tools-Options.
Select the Preferences Tab (should be selected by default anyway)
Click the Calendar Options button.
Tick Sat and Sun under Calendar Work Week.

Now when you click the Work Week button at the top of the screen, all 7 days will be displayed.

(Outlook 2007 users don't need to do this as Outlook 2007 displays the 7 day view with all time slots.)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Productivity Tip: Do a POOR Job!

My favorite productivity tip: If it's worth doing, then its worth doing Poorly!

If you are running your own business, there are probably a hundred different things that you want to do in order to grow and improve your business.

I keep a list of these things and until 6 months ago, most of these things just stayed in the list. Until I realised that ….

Most things don't need to be done perfectly in order for your business to gain from them.

Get enough information to (almost) convince yourself that the idea will work. Get information to implement the idea and then GET STARTED!

Implement the first version of that idea.

If it works, then improve it.

If it doesn't work, move on to the next idea. At least you haven't wasted your valuable time gathering information on something that wasn't going to work in the first place.

You win either way!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Don’t Look at Your Inbox First Thing in the Morning

Look at your Calendar BEFORE your look at your Inbox in the morning. Why?

Because email first thing in the morning can lead to a very “unproductive day”. It can easily put you into fire-fighting mode instead of strategic mode for most of your day.

The emails in your Inbox often represent the priorities of others. This may be very different from your own priorities.

Start the day by looking at your Calendar and seeing what you have already scheduled for the day. Schedule any new things that you want to do today that are important to you and your business. Then look at your Inbox.

I have setup my own Outlook to open up displaying the Calendar instead of the Outbox. Here’s how you can do the same.

Click Tools-Options.
Select the Others tab.
Click Advanced Options. The startup folder is displayed at the top of the screen.
Click the Browse button to select the Calendar.

The next time your open Outlook, you’ll be looking at your Calendar.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Comments on this Blog are now open to All

I received emails from several people who wanted to post comments on our blog but didn’t want to go to the trouble of having to open a Gmail account.

Thanks for those who wrote requesting for comment-ability. To be absolutely honest I had not even realised that I had accidentally blocked you out.

As of today we have removed this restriction … anyone can now enter comments on the blog - No Gmail account required. (I do reserve the right to take out anything obscene etc.)

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Emailing Links to files on your Network

Do you share files with other users on your network? Here’s a way to email CLICKABLE links even if the file name or path has spaces in it.

We often share files with other users in our company by putting them in shared folders either on our computer or on the server. We then email the relevant people with a link to the file e.g.

I have put the latest copy of the software on the server at the following location:


If the file name and path have no spaces in it then you end up with a link that the recipient can click on to open the file.

The problem is that since Windows allows spaces in file names, many folder names and file names now contain spaces. If your path/folder name has spaces in it, then the link in not correct e.g. in the same example link above if there was a space in the word SoftwarePrograms:

\\Server\Software Programs\filename.exe

Here’s an easy trick to get around it. Start your link with a “<” and finish with a “>” i.e if you type

<\\Server\Software Programs\filename.exe>

Outlook will change it to:

\\Server\Software Programs\filename.exe

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Email Overload is NOT Your Real Problem!

For many small business owners and professionals, email overload is not the real problem. It's the sign of a much bigger problem ... it's a form of ESCAPE … it allows us to avoid the boring work that our businesses demand of us ... work that we didn't actually sign up for in the first place.

Most professionals and small business owners got into business because they were really good at something …. maybe you were a great lawyer or architect or engineer or software designer or …

After gaining some experience working for someone else, you branched out on your own and in the beginning it was fantastic. The enthusiasm of doing something new gave you the energy to do everything that needed to be done.

But after a while, you had less and less time to do what you originally wanted to do … now you have to do what the business DEMANDS. Sales calls need to be made, invoices need to be raised …. Even after you hire and delegate, you still find yourself doing many things that you don't want to do.

Soon you find that you no longer enjoy what you originally meant to do with your life … because of the continual (silent) thought that "those boring tasks still need to be done".


So email becomes your escape … you spend your time answering emails and reading newsletters … because it makes you feel busy … and helps you NOT do the work someone in your business still needs to do.

Email overload is NOT your problem. The real problem is that you no longer have the time to do the WORK that you WANT to do.

The Solution is Easy!


That doesn’t mean that you start bossing the rest of your team around. They're the ones who have been doing most of the real work while you were checking your email.

It's time to be the BOSS OF YOUR OWN TIME. Give yourself time to do the work you enjoy.

SCHEDULE time in your calendar to do the type of work your enjoy and STICK TO IT.

If it's work that you need to do on your own, then make sure that you are not interrupted during this time. Don't check your emails and don't take any calls.

You are NOT that important. Nobody's world is coming to an end because you didn't respond for a few hours.


Once the scheduled time is up, go back to the tasks that need to be done, answer your emails etc. Guess what … it's still there waiting for you.

Except now you may actually enjoy doing some of it. Or maybe you'll look for creative ways of delegating or outsourcing because today YOU DID YOUR WORK.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

See More of Your Email when using the Reading Pane

Outlook Tip: Click Alt-F1 on your keyboard to hide (or Show) the Folder list.

The Reading Pane is a fantastic tool for reading emails. However you may find there isn't much space left on your screen when you display the folder list, the list of emails and the reading pane. Here's a keyboard shortcut to turn the folder list on and off to greatly simplify the reading of emails.

I provide a fuller explanation (for those that need it further down).

However for Power Users ...

Go to your Inbox and make sure that your Reading Pane is displayed (I personally like it on the Right and not the Bottom).
Click Alt-F1 on your keyboard to hide the Folder list. Your Reading Pane will automatically become bigger so that you can see more of the email.
Click Alt-F1 again when you want to see the folder list. (In Outlook 2007 you may need to press ALT-F1 twice)

For not-so-Power-Users who are not sure what the Reading Pane is …

If you use Outlook 2003 or 2007, you are probably using the Reading Pane (even if you did not know that it was called the Reading Pane.

The Reading Pane allows you to read/view and email while still in the Inbox i.e. you can see the email without needing to open the email separately.

The Reading Pane can either be displayed at the right hand or at the bottom.

If the Reading Pane is not visible on your Outlook, click View-Reading Pane and then select either Right or Bottom.

I like displaying the email on the Right because it lets me see more of the email without needing to scroll up or down. However some emails are also wide (because of graphics etc) and that combined with the space taken by the Folder list limits how much I can see.

The Solution …

Click Alt-F1 on your keyboard to hide the Folder list. Your Reading Pane will automatically become bigger so that you can see more of the email.

Click Alt-F1 again when you want to see the folder list again. (In Outlook 2007 you may need to press ALT-F1 twice)

Sunday, September 2, 2007

The Deleted Items Folder is a Rubbish Bin and Not a Filing Cabinet

In my last post I wrote about a very simple email stress management technique … move emails out of your Inbox once you have finished with them. But where should the emails be moved to?

I'll discuss a few ideas during the week but for starters …


The Deleted Items folder is your electronic rubbish bin … do you file your important papers in your physical rubbish bins.

I have actually had customers who (used to) delete emails to remove them from their Inbox …. and later look in the Deleted Items folder when they needed to find an important email.

The Deleted Items folder is your electronic rubbish bin! Like it’s physical counterpart, the Deleted Items folder can be emptied very easily causing permanent loss of your “filed” emails.

If you're not going to refer to the email again and do not need to keep it (for legal reasons etc) then DELETE IT!

Otherwise you need to move it out of the Inbox and into either:

1. One folder in which you file all your emails. (Give this email a generic name like Filing or Old Emails) or
2. Individual folders dedicated to projects, cases, clients, topics etc.

I'll talk more about each of these two methods later this week.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Times Online says that Email is the Number 1 Stressor at Work

A recent Times Online Report says that:

… workers are suffering "e-mail stress" because they are swamped with messages and constantly monitoring their inbox … E-mail is the thing that now causes us the most problems in our working lives.

My experience is that this is true for many people. However for most the problem is not the volume of email but poor email management.

Don't Use Your Inbox Like a Filing Cabinet!

When you have finished with an email, either delete it or move it out of the Inbox! Make sure that your Inbox only has emails that still need your attention.

Do you still keep paper files? I am sure you don't throw your To-Do list into your filing cabinet with the rest of your papers.

So why do so many of us continue to do this with our emails?

We have a free ebook on our website titled "The Professional's Guide to E-Mail Management in Microsoft Outlook" that outlines ways in which you can setup a proper email management system in Outlook. The book does make reference in several places to our email management product QuickFile 4Outlook but all the tips work with Outlook only (i.e. you don't need any extra software).

Update your Blog directly from Word …

I am not sure how many readers out there have a blog and how many people use Microsoft Word 2007 yet but …

Word 2007 has a cool new feature that lets you update your Blog directly from Word. It supports most of the standard blog services (such as blogger) and the process is very easy.

Click on the Office button and then click New.

Double Click "New Blog Post"

Write up your Blog title and article.

Click the Publish button on the Ribbon.

Word will ask you for your Blog log-on details either in the beginning or when you publish. Easy!

I published this post (as a test) directly from Word.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Sending Pictures - The Safe, Easy, Recipient-Friendly Way!

You may be wondering what sending pictures has got to do with the stated aim of our blog .. using Microsoft Outlook for Business.

A lawyer friend recently had a baby. Like all proud new mothers and fathers (I did this myself a few years ago), she sent out pictures of her new born baby to all her friends.

Unfortunately for me (and many of her other friends) she had a new (very) high resolution camera – most probably recently purchased. The attached pictures were more than 10 MB in size and took forever to download.

The full list of disadvantages of sending full size pictures includes:

  • It could take a while for the email to leave your computer
  • It could take a long time for the email to download to the recipients’ computers (it is hard to appreciate a cute baby photo after it has taken 10 minutes to download)
  • It may not even get delivered to some recipients if the recipient has a limit to the size of emails they can receive (particularly true if they work in a big company)
  • Your Outlook gets slow and bloated because of the massive attachments stored in your Sent Items folder …

So what is the right way to send pictures …

Unless the recipients will be printing out the pictures, you generally don’t need to send the pictures in their full resolution.

The pictures can be greatly reduced in resolution/size while still being perfectly clear to the recipient.

There are many software applications that you can use to resize pictures. Just make sure that you resize the copy that you want to send and not the original. You probably still want the originals in full size for printing later.

If you are using Windows XP or Windows Vista, here is the built in, free, safe and easy way to send pictures.

Go to the Folder where the pictures are saved.

Select the picture(s) that you want to send. To select more than one picture, click on the first picture. Then press the CTRL button on your keyboard and keep it pressed while you select as many other pictures as you want. Release the CTRL button once you are done.

Now Right-Click on any of the selected pictures and click Send-To, then click Mail Recipient.

A dialog box will come up allowing you to automatically resize the email. I normally choose 640x480. You may want to choose 800x600. Either of these resolutions is fine to display your new baby to your friends on their computer screens.

Click Attach or OK (depending on which version of Windows you are using).

A new email will be created for you with all your chosen pictures resized and attached.

Add the emails addresses of the people you want to send to in the To, CC or BCC fields and click Send.

You’re Done!

This method only resizes the copy of the emails that you are sending out. Your originals are still safely stored in their full size on your hard-disk for later use..

MS Outlook for Business???

Welcome to our blog!

This Blog is dedicated to Microsoft Outlook users who use Outlook daily as an important business tool. My focus will be mainly on Professionals (lawyers, engineers, accountants, programmers, web developers …) who are working in solo/small to medium sized businesses.

A little bit about me and my company … We develop and market Microsoft Outlook Addins. Our websites include:


Over time I have come to the realization that our expertise is in helping our customers use Microsoft Outlook as a REAL BUSINESS TOOL.

In this Blog I hope to discuss and explore ways in which Microsoft Outlook can help you organize and grow your business. I will try and give you hints and tips to make better use of Outlook, as well as pointing you to ebooks (many free), websites and software that can make you more productive.

We may :) mention our products where it makes sense but I will generally try and focus on how Outlook (without any additional software) can help make you more productive.