Tag Archives: Outlook

Outlook 2010 : How to Set Up Desktop Alerts to Only Pop Up for High Priority Emails

Last month my mentor and I chatted about barriers to productivity – including how the staggering number of emails we receive on a daily basis can negatively affect our work performance. We both agreed how distracting and disruptive Outlook’s Desktop Alerts can be – popping up in the corner of our screens like a groundhog from a burrow every time a new email is received.

She suggested I consider disabling the desktop alert function for a set period of time every day to remove the temptation to divert from the task at hand. This solution made sense, but was not perfect – what if an ‘urgent’ email with vital information or amendments to the project was left sitting idle in my inbox for hours?

We agreed that removing the functionality altogether felt more like a Band-Aid solution that a flawless fit. In an ideal virtual world Desktop Alerts could be set up to only pop up for high priority emails. Convinced that Microsoft could not be shortsighted enough to not include this option, I promised my mentor a solution by the end of the week.

Big mistake. There were no step-by-step tutorials or YouTube videos on the subject. The closest topic I could find was how to set up an incoming email rule. I’m not the type to blame Google or admit defeat so I decided to design my own solution through a series of time consuming trial and error tests.

I’ll admit the following solution is slightly time-consuming to set up, but fortunately, once you’ve set it up it takes two clicks to turn off and on:

How to Set Up a Rule That Only Notifies You of High Priority Emails Using Desktop Alerts

Desktop Alerts are the Outlook 2010 notifications that appear on your desktop when you receive new email message.

To Set Up the High Priority Desktop Alert Rule

To adjust some of the features of Desktop Alerts to suit your preferences, do the following:

To be able to only see Desktop Alerts for emails marked “Urgent,” you will need to create an email rule that moves all new messages out of your Inbox except those marked “Urgent.”

  1. Create a new folder. This will be the location where your incoming emails will be sent.

I titled my folder “New Emails.”

  1. In the Outlook 2010 ribbon, select Home tab. In the Move group, select the “Rules” button. A dropdown menu will appear. Select “Manage Rules & Alerts”. A new menu will open.
  2. Make sure the “E-mail Rules” tab is selected. Click on the “New Rule” button. Under the “Start from a blank rule” menu title, select “Apply rule on messages I receive.” Click Next.
  3. The “Rules Wizard” menu will open, asking you to “Select condition(s)”. Do not check a condition. This will ensure your new rule is applied to every email you receive. Click Next. A warning message will appear. Click Yes.
  4. The Rules Wizard will ask you to “Select action(s)”. Check the box beside “move it to a specific folder” action. In the “Step 2” section that allows you to edit the rule description, click on “specified.” Select the new folder you created in Step 1. Click Next.
  5. The Rules Wizard will ask you to “Select exception(s)”. Check the box beside “except if it is marked as importance.” In the “Step 2” section that allows you to edit the rule description, click on “importance.” Select “high” drop the drop down menu. Click OK.  Click Next.
  6. Name your new rule “New Emails”. Be certain that “Turn on this rule” is selected and NOT “run this rule now on messages already in “Inbox.” Click Finish.

From now on, all emails you receive that are not marked urgent will be pushed to the “New Emails” folder. The folder name will appear in bold with a dark blue number beside it when new, unread emails are in it. You can always drag emails back into your inbox folder if you want to sort them there.

To Turn Off the High Priority Desktop Alert Rule

  1. In the Outlook 2010 ribbon, select Home tab. In the Move group, select the “Rules” button. A dropdown menu will appear. Select “Manage Rules & Alerts”. A new menu will open.
  2. Unselect the New Emails Rule. Click OK.

To Turn ON the High Priority Desktop Alert Rule

  1. In the Outlook 2010 ribbon, select Home tab. In the Move group, select the “Rules” button. A dropdown menu will appear. Select “Manage Rules & Alerts”. A new menu will open.
  2. Select the New Emails Rule. Click OK.

-Kelly Marshall,
Director of Communications,
Outlook 2007/2010 Training @
Sector Learning Solutions

The Anatomy of an Email Signature

Email signatures are a fantastic communication and productivity tool – and for anyone who has not set one up yet, we highly recommend you consider it.

Some of the benefits to setting up an email signature:
>>It lets you add a block of information with the click of a button – saving time and reducing the chance of typos!
>>It lets you add routine contact details or a promotional
message.
>>Separate signatures can be set up to suit the tone of the email – formal, business or personal.

Some tips to consider when designing your email signature:
>>>Be concise.
>>>Use links whenever you can.
>>>Confine any marketing messages to one line.
>>>Save inspirational quotes that reflect your personality for your personal email signature.

Tempted to use a graphics in place of a text signature?
Images increase the email’s file size and will likely be blocked from displaying by the program. Most importantly, this format doesn’t allow people to copy and paste your information.

Abbreviated Business Signature Template:

Best,
 [NAME]
 [COMPANY NAME] *with link to your website
 [OFFICE PHONE #] | [MOBILE PHONE #]
 [EMAIL]

Full  Business Signature Template:

Best,
 [NAME]
 [JOB TITLE]
 [COMPANY NAME] *with link to your website
 [OFFICE PHONE #] | [MOBILE PHONE #]
 [EMAIL]
 [COMPANY SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS] | [BLOG LINK] | [YOUTUBE LINK]
 [GOOGLE MAPS LINK] - [OFFICE ADDRESS]

-Kelly Marshall,
Director of Communications,
Outlook 2007/2010 Training @
Sector Learning Solutions

Using Hashtags in Microsoft Outlook as a Project Management Strategy

Have you ever had to manage a project that does not require the power of Microsoft Project, but calls for more organization than a to-do list?

Andrea Vascellari, digital marketing consultant and CEO of itive.net, offers seven solutions in How to Use Google Calendar as a Project Management Tool, an article posted on LifeHacker.com on June 15, 2012.

I felt like sharing this article because we at Sector Learning Solutions use many of the same techniques that Andrea recommends to managing resources and deadlines for our large client-based projects in Microsoft SharePoint, as well as our smaller, internal projects in Microsoft Outlook.

For internal projects (such as planning our Marketing strategy for 2012), we create a separate calendars in Microsoft Outlook to ensure we can view all imminent deadlines for the project by work week or the month on their own – without having to sift through unrelated appointments and to-do items in our personal calendars. When we want to determine free and busy times for ourselves or colleagues, we use the Overlay feature to compare our personal calendars with the project calendar.

Outlook Appointments are used to mark milestones and deadlines, as well as block off time for individuals to complete specific tasks. Client and personal privacy is maintained using the ability to share and restrict calendar access as well as mark individual Appointments and Meetings private.

One new idea that Andrea shares in her article is the idea of using hashtags in Google calendars (e.g. 2-for-1August2012SharepointSpecial#) for internal data management. I’ve always relied heavily on Outlook Categories to group like-items together. The only issue being that you are restricted to 25 colours options. By incorporating a unique hashtag for each specific project you work on, you can reserve your category colours for more general classifications.

Outlook, like Google calendar, is searchable; therefore it makes sense that using hashtags should allow Outlook users to track and report on specific items over time. Testing time!

Right away, I noted an issue when testing hashtag functionality in Outlook. Outlook search ignores the actual hashtag character (i.e. “#”) – even when using double quotes to ensure search results match the exact phrase within the quotes. In fact, its search function appears to ignore all punctuation and special characters.

That means when I search for “test#”, a list of every appointment with the word “test” in the subject line comes up, instead of only the two appointments I created with “test#” in the subject line.

So it appears some modification is necessary to implement Andrea’s hashtag concept to work in Outlook. You can still use a special phrase for all Outlook Appointments tied to a specific project – as long as you only use letters and numbers.

For those of you just getting started with using the Search feature in Outlook, here’s a reference page by Microsoft on how to narrow your search criteria for better searches in Outlook.

Great idea Andrea – looking forward to implementing this technique to improve my time and project management!

Coming Up: Next month I’ll discuss how we use Microsoft SharePoint 2010 to manage our larger client-based projects.

-Kelly Marshall,
Director of Communications,
Outlook 2007/2010 Training @
Sector Learning Solutions