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Efficiency with Microsoft Outlook

Efficiency with Microsoft Outlook

Efficiency with Microsoft Outlook

For most of my professional life so far, I've used Lotus Notes for e-mail. Within the past year, I've transitioned to Microsoft Outlook and am overall happier for it. I'm finding Outlook is a bit more user-friendly and has some additional functionality I have been looking into.

For one, I'm trying to figure out if I can get Microsoft Outlook to automatically archive e-mails, as my company deletes everything over 60 days old. I'm currently saving e-mails I want to keep directly to project folders, but was wondering if anyone has a suggestion for a more direct approach?

Also, are there any particular plug-ins you all would recommend? Any must-haves out there I should be installing?

Still trying to figure out how I want to use the To-Do list functionality, as well - I've read some past threads on that topic and am starting to explore it a bit.

I appreciate any feedback or suggestions.

RE: Efficiency with Microsoft Outlook

The best solution I ever saw was that one company had outlook sort and archive the emails for you. All emails had to have their project number in the title and outlook was setup to create directories and archive the emails to their respective directories.

RE: Efficiency with Microsoft Outlook

You can do a lot with Outlook's built-in rules.

The problem with trying to move or categorize incoming mail automatically is that the magic needs some sort of trigger. It can be "from a specific person", or "with a word in the subject" etc.

But when you do that you are putting someone else in charge of your organization.

RE: Efficiency with Microsoft Outlook

If your company has a policy to delete emails older than 60 days, you may be doing them a disservice by saving them into a folder. They are probably trying to minimize their risk at the advice of their insurers. Not a good idea to skirt the system unless management has agreed to it.

RE: Efficiency with Microsoft Outlook

Thanks for the replies - I did find and set up the auto-archive feature. I'm also considering if there's a way I can utilize the Rules feature that MintJulep mentioned...thank you.

MotorCity, I checked on the reason for our 60-day policy and confirmed it's server-maintenance related - good thought though, I certainly could see it being a risk mitigation strategy.

RE: Efficiency with Microsoft Outlook

You can also save Outlook messages via the File>Save As... whatever file type you want and wherever you want to store them.

Pamela K. Quillin, P.E.
Quillin Engineering, LLC
NSPE-CO, Central Chapter
Dinner program: http://nspe-co.org/events.php

RE: Efficiency with Microsoft Outlook

We use pst files.
So in Outlook, you set up a data file (pst file) by first hitting the FILE tab and then clicking on Account Settings.
This brings up a pop up window.
On the pop up window - hit "Data Files" and then hit "Add..."
It will ask you where to put the data file - we usually put it in our project folder under an "Email" folder.

Then give it a name - usually something like this: ProjectName MyInitials Email

This will then create a file called "ProjectName MyInitials Email.pst" in that folder.
The same name will show up on the left side of the Outlook email page. You can drag all your project-associated emails into it and access them as typical emails in a folder in Outlook.
When the project is done, and you've dragged all the emails into it - then you can "close" the folder in Outlook by right-clicking on it.

The pst data file then resides in your project folder permanently.
To re-access it - simply follow the same steps as above to re-open in within Outlook.
Only one person can have the pst file linked to their Outlook at a time - so we do have multiple pst files for a single project by multiple engineers sometimes.

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RE: Efficiency with Microsoft Outlook

I worked with lotus notes and did not like it. I did not like the company either but that is another story.
What I found strange is that when you decide not to send an email and want to cancel it, you get a pop up window that says something like are you sure you want to cancel/delete the email. The default button that is active on that window is "send".
So if by mistake you hit enter on your keyboard, the email is sent. How stupid is that.
Each time I had to go through this, I needed to be very careful not to hit any key on key board and click with the mouse on "cancel/delete". I found outlook way more efficient.

RE: Efficiency with Microsoft Outlook

Quote (HamburgerHelper)

...All emails had to have their project number in the title ...

How did they get anyone OUTSIDE the company to put that in the subject line?
Even to this day, I still have some sub-contractors and suppliers who send e-mails with EMPTY subject lines!


RE: Efficiency with Microsoft Outlook

you can also select all your messages in a folder, and Save As PDF. I use this all the time, as I never know if i'll still be using Outlook 10 years from now..

I design aqueducts in a parallel universe.

RE: Efficiency with Microsoft Outlook

Bernoulli31, this is amazing.

My company completely removes any .pst or archiving, yet anything over 2yrs old is gone forever. Oh and my entire mailbox limit is 1GB. Needless to say, I'm in dire need of a better way to organize and archive my files. This pdf looks promising as it maintains the messages and metadata!

RE: Efficiency with Microsoft Outlook

Sorry I don't have anything productive to add, but I am curious how deleting emails mitigates risk. If they are sent or received by anyone external, they probably still exist somewhere else.

If anything, old emails have saved me in the past. It gives me a record that some customer or some vendor said this or that. If my company or myself are responsible for mistakes, I want to know that too.

I suppose deleting internal emails could mitigate certain risks, but that seems a bit shady to me. Someone, please explain what I'm missing.

RE: Efficiency with Microsoft Outlook

I agree...
We're so good at what we do - that emails show us in a good light and the opponent in a bad light.
So why would we delete emails? Makes no sense.

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RE: Efficiency with Microsoft Outlook

Saved emails have saved me.

Pamela K. Quillin, P.E.
Quillin Engineering, LLC
NSPE-CO, Central Chapter
Dinner program: http://nspe-co.org/events.php

RE: Efficiency with Microsoft Outlook

I just made an interesting discovery in my files. I use outlook 2010, My archived files also contain my deleted email files. I found this when outlook started to get slow.

You are judged not by what you know, but by what you can do.

RE: Efficiency with Microsoft Outlook

Autoarchive can be disabled by Group Policy, thus whether or not you can use it depends on the IT situation of your employer.

One of the issues in terms of email storage is that mailboxes are a very poor means of storage of company correspondence. Mailboxes are meant to manage correspondence, not to store it for long term retrieval.

Ideally all company correspondence should be filed separately, in a means that allows for all emails to be indexed and stored in a particular location relevant to the company (whether this is a shared folder arrangement, with emails stored by project, or a Document Management System). Having to trawl through every employee's mailbox (past or present) for email records for a project is a great way to waste significant hours. The issue of employees having the right to separately store all correspondence relating to engineering decisions in case of a lawsuit is a separate, but related issue.

EDMS Australia

RE: Efficiency with Microsoft Outlook

I grew to like Notes too. The thing I miss the most is that you can include an out of office notification in a calendar event. So it will automatically turn it on and off. Outlook requires this to be done manually. Another thing I miss is the setting to not show meeting replies. I had to create a filter in Outlook to send those to a folder which I empty every so often. Notes would also suggest rooms based on how many people were invited to the meeting.

The to-do lists in Outlook work pretty well (tasks). You can also add reminders and flags to e-mails. Things like a remind me at 3:00 to reply.

I also use OneNote for to-do lists. It works great with Outlook. My favorite is the button that lets you take notes for meetings. It copies all the meeting details, has check boxes for attendance and can even include screen shots.

Outlook has a better mobile client than notes.

I use the categories to color code e-mails in the folder. I have one for important things and another for money (invoices, receipts, quotes).

Learn to use the advanced search options like

Another useful add in if you company supports it is Skype for Business. It ingrates fully into meetings for conference calls and screen sharing.

RE: Efficiency with Microsoft Outlook

If your company insists on reinventing the hot water every 60 days, I guess your only reliable friend is a printer wavey3

RE: Efficiency with Microsoft Outlook

I ran into an interesting item this week, due to a bug . Microsoft Windows 10 was reset on my computer, this wiped out Microsoft outlook and all of the associated files. I re installed Microsoft outlook 2010 from a disc , then talked to my email company, they were able to send me the last 200 emails they had archived on their server. The bad news was that they all came in as unread emails.

You are judged not by what you know, but by what you can do.

RE: Efficiency with Microsoft Outlook

As others have mentioned, you can use the rule function. You can setup a rule to save a copy of all incoming emails to a single folder (pst file) on your computer.

If you need to need separate out certain emails to different folders, you set up different rules, such as emails from a certain person go to this folder or keywords in a subject line go somewhere else. This approach does not always work smoothly. I used to work with multiple projects and noticed almost all incoming project emails had a company project number in the subject. Therefore, I setup a rule that separated out the emails based on the project numbers in the subject line. This worked pretty well, but still got a few emails mixed up because some people sent messages with a bad subject line or none. I don't currently do this anymore, because my role is different now. I still have all outgoing emails archived, because my company deletes outgoing over 30 days old. This helps when no one responds to an email. I've seen people cc themselves on outgoing email, but that seems like unneeded clutter.

Personally, I wish I didn't have to archive so much correspondence. It helps when someone asks you about project that ended years ago. Last year, an engineer had to send out an archived email message from 2010 to settle a process and procedure argument...

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