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Do you find yourself spending a lot of time trying to keep track of emails, tasks and calendars in Microsoft Outlook? If you learn to take advantage of the wide variety of features in Outlook, you can significantly increase your productivity. [If productive habits matter to you, check out our video here on how discipline brings better results.]


Here are 6 Outlook tips to get back 30 minutes of your day:

1.???? Redefine ?Read? Emails

Do you skim through your emails in your reading pane and remind yourself to read them in depth later? If you do, it?s often time consuming to sift through all your emails later to find them among the ?read? emails.

If you want to prevent this, go to File, Options, and Mail, then click the Reading Pane button and check the ?Mark items as read when viewing in the Reading Pane? option. This way you will be forced to open up the email and read it entirely before it can be marked as ?read?.

2.???? Connect to Social Media Accounts

Connecting Outlook to your social media accounts allows you to view information about your contacts in the People module. If you want to connect, go to File, Info, Account Settings, and choose Social Network Accounts. Then, select the service and type your account details. Once you?ve given Outlook permission to access your account, you?re connected. Keeping up to date on your contacts social statuses can be helpful for conversation pieces or learning more about them.

3.???? Use the Favorites

If you have multiple email accounts or dozens of folders, the folder pane will become crowded, which makes it difficult to search for commonly used folders. To prevent this, add folders as favorites and the favorites will appear at the top of the Folder list. First, go to View, Folder Pane, and choose enable Favorites. Then right-click in the Folder pane to add favorites at any time.

4.???? Enable the To-Do Bar

Outlook 2013 disables the To-Do bar, however, it?s simple to bring it back. Go to the View tab and choose To-Do bar, then a drop-down list will appear. The drop-down list allows you to select the order for options to appear in the to-do bar. It?s a great way to keep up on your tasks.

Bonus tip: Flagging emails to be addressed on a certain day or date as well as color categorizing them helps to stay organized and still on task for the day.

5.???? Control the Default Search Location

If you?re searching for a specific email, the search option will look in your current Mailbox by default. If you want to search through all mailboxes, go to File, Options, and Search. Then, look for the Results area and select what folders or mailboxes to search. If you select all mailboxes, you can search for emails in all of your folders and mailboxes. This is important if you accidentally dropped something into the wrong folder!

6. Customize Your Inbox

Outlook offers various customization options to change the default view. This can be helpful if your mind organizes things in a different way than Outlook does:

  • Click the View tab and choose Change View to change the default view.
  • Go to View Settings to add or rearrange the columns.
  • Go to Arrangement options to sort emails by date or subject.
  • Go to Layout options to customize the Folder Pane or Reading Pane.