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This is post #4 in the Ten Days of Office series celebrating the one-year anniversary of the release of Office 2010 with tips and tricks for getting the most from your Office experience.
In a recent independent survey of 1,268 professionals and students age 18 and older, conducted by MarketTools Inc., 96 percent said they expect their email communication in the workplace to increase or to stay the same over the next five years. The bad news: If you already feel overloaded with email, the situation is unlikely to change. The good news: Outlook 2010 has some great features that can help you gain control over your email. Here are three features I use the most to stay on top of my messages.
Whenever a lot of unread messages pile up in my Inbox, I use Conversations view. This helps me in two ways. First, it’s easy to spot and respond to the latest thread in a conversation. Second, I can identify conversations with the most unread messages and respond to those first. In many cases, after I respond to the last message in a conversation, I can mark the entire conversation as read. My unread count starts to drop fast. I’m always in a race to minimize the number of unread messages and it gives me a sense of accomplishment.
These videos will help you learn more about Conversations view.
In my Inbox I applied conditional formatting to two email categories — messages from my manager and messages sent only to me. Over time, I found those two categories need my attention first. With conditional formatting, those messages appear in different colors. When I see a message in color, I read it first.
To learn more about conditional formatting, see our previous Outlook blog post or Outlook Help.
The Clean Up command often gives me a sense of accomplishment in seconds. Clean Up is a great way to avoid reading the same thing over and over as people reply to a conversation. The Clean Up command evaluates the contents of each message in a conversation. Then, if a message is completely contained within one of the replies, that message is deleted.
For more about Clean Up and other new features, see our previous Outlook blog post or Outlook Help.
I’m sure some of you are thinking, “How could he not talk about flags and categories? I can’t live without them,” “What about rules? That should definitely be in the top three,” or “I created Quick Steps to do everything I want.” These are all good ways to help manage your Inbox. And that’s the beauty of Outlook — the rich set of features allows you to manage email the way you want to. How do you manage your Inbox? Leave a comment and let us know.
-Roby KurianSenior Product Manager, Microsoft Outlook
More info on Outlook conditional formatting:
Conditional Formatting: Highlight your most important mailsDear Crabby: Creative OutlookingMake the New Year great with a better organized InboxAutomatically change incoming message colors and fonts basedon sender, subject, or recipients What happened to the Organize feature? Best practices for Outlook 2010
Conversation view is almost worthless, unless there is some way to manually assign a message to a conversation. People "reply" to a message just to grab the distribution list, and their "reply" is on a completely different topic. People respond to messages without using "reply" so their message is not included in the conversation that it is part of. Someone makes a spelling error in the "subject" & a respondent corrects it in the reply, so the message is not included in the conversation because the "subject" has changed. Some people just ignore the "subject" line or leave it blank. Some messages address standard topics & so all have the same "subject" even though they are different conversations.
Conversations is "almost" the best idea ever... but if you can't drag items in and out of groups it's pretty useless. I have 1 string from today with ~15 e-mails in groups of 2-3 each, so the conversation is all out of order when I use conversations, and impossible to read.
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Great to know some more useful features of Outlook 2010. Last week I read about Conversation view, ignore button and quick steps. From that time i decide to be in sync with more updates from you. These two features conditional formatting and clean up also seems quite interesting and easy to use. I will definitely try these.
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