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Organise your day with Outlook

How to use the features in Microsoft Outlook to get more organised

If you use Microsoft Outlook 2003 to send and receive e-mail messages, why not go the next step and take full advantage of its ability to get your whole workday better organised?

1. Manage e-mail more efficiently

How much time do you waste in a day checking multiple e-mail accounts? How much time do you spend searching through your inbox looking for a specific message... or deleting junk mail messages? Here's help:

Viewing multiple e-mail accounts
With Outlook 2003, you can bring in e-mails from other accounts, such as a Hotmail account. Go to the Tools menu, choose E-mail Accounts... and then Add a new e-mail account. Choose the type of server from the list and work through the options.

When you have finished, you'll see your additional accounts listed in the Favourite Folders area at the top right of your Outlook screen.

Finding e-mails quickly
Sometimes it's helpful to have all the messages from a particular person highlighted in another colour so you can spot them quickly. Choose Organise from the Tools menu and use the Ways to Organise Inbox tool for this and other ways of viewing your e-mails.

You might also want to mark key e-mails with a coloured Follow Up flag. To do so, right click on the flag icon to the right of the message in the inbox list and choose the flag colour. All flagged messages will now appear in the For Follow Up folder in the Favourite Folders area.

Reducing junk e-mail
Outlook 2003 has some new features to help you keep your inbox clear of unwanted e-mails. You can now control the kinds of messages you receive and from whom you want to receive them. By default, the Junk E-mail Filter is already turned on for you, but you can control the settings if you go to the Actions menu and choose Junk E-mail.

2. Stay on track with the calendar

The Outlook Calendar can help you plan and manage your daily schedule and synchronise it with a mobile device so you can stay current when you're away from your PC.

Creating appointments
Click the New button in the Outlook Calendar and simply fill in the details, dates and times of your appointments. Use the blank area at the bottom to jot down extra information about the appointment, or even to drag in a related document. Click the Recurrence... button to set the recurring pattern of an appointment which occurs more than once.

Viewing and printing
To move around your Calendar, use the date navigator to view a different day, week or month, and the standard toolbar buttons to choose how many days to view at a time.

To make your Calendar easier to view, you can add colour to your appointments. Right click on an appointment and choose Label. Then choose Automatic Formatting... from the Edit menu and you can even set options so Outlook automatically colours appointments for you.

If you need to print out your Calendar, go to the File menu, choose Print... and select one of the print styles.

Sharing calendar information
If you use Outlook with Exchange Server, you can share your calendar information with your colleagues. To set permissions and share your Calendar, choose the Share My Calendar... option from the panel on the left of your screen. To open a colleague's Calendar, choose the Open a Shared Calendar... option, or select their name in the list.

3. Using Outlook Contacts

Outlook Contacts is a convenient place to store names, addresses and any other details about customers, colleagues and others you deal with. To get the most out of your Outlook Contacts, try these ideas:

Add a picture
In Contacts, open a contact, click the Add Contact Picture button and navigate to the required picture file.

Add notes
Use the blank area on the right to jot down extra information such as directions to their offices, a map or a link to another related document.

Categorise contacts
Click the Categories button located in the bottom right of a Contacts window to help you group different types of contacts together, for instance, suppliers and customers. You can then use the built-in views to easily display your contacts by category.

You can also use the names and addresses stored in your Contacts in a mail merge with Microsoft Word. It's perfect for sending out promotional letters or other marketing projects. To do this, work through the Mail Merge Wizard in the Word Tools menu, choosing to select recipients from Outlook Contacts when prompted.

4. The ultimate to-do list

Do you find it helpful to make lists of tasks or projects you need to complete? If so, check out Outlook Tasks.

Select Tasks from the navigation pane and simply begin typing your list, adding a due date if required. You can double click on a task to add more information such as status, priority, percent complete, reminders and any other notes or links to files. The task will turn red when the due date has passed, and you can select the box to mark a task as complete.

Once you get comfortable with Tasks, try these options:

Use the Recurrence... button to create a task which you need to do regularly.

Use the View options down the left of your screen to display your task list in other ways.

Use the Details tab if you need to capture other details such as billing information and hours worked.

If you use Outlook with Exchange Server, try using Assign Task to delegate a task to somebody else.

And if you find that you really prefer yellow sticky notes on your computer monitor for your to-do list, select Outlook Notes instead from the navigation pane. You can even drag a note onto your desktop to keep it in view.

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