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Let's take a look at your morning. Chances are it takes you a while to wake up. You may need a shower, a shave, some coffee, breakfast, and maybe a chat with your loved one. Then—and only then—will you feel steady enough to wrestle with that onerous inbox of yours. I am very much this way: The last thing I want to do first thing is jump right into email. It's tempting, I know. How beautiful those bolded folders are with their brilliant blue unread mail counts, just itching to take over your brain, your time, and your life.
In September, I wrote about how to start up Outlook to show anything but mail, and the examples I gave of other places to start up in were Calendar, Contacts, SharePoint Lists, and RSS feeds. However, I missed mentioning something that is near and dear to one of my cohort's heart and now that I know about it, mine too <sigh>.
Take a look at what my mailbox greeted me with this morning:
Not pretty, no.
Yes, I will eventually get to all of that (well, maybe not all 23,251 pieces of unread mail), but I'll do a good job of weed whacking it by the time I close up shop for the day. But does it do me any good to just jump in there and get caught up in all of it before I even know what my schedule is for the day or what tasks I've laid out for myself? It does not.
And here's where Outlook Today comes in. Outlook Today is a snapshot of your whole day—your calendar, your tasks, and any mail folders you'd like to see (just how many messages are awaiting). It's front and center, and all your mail folders are to the left of it (ready to pounce, no doubt). You get an overhead look at your upcoming meetings and appointments and what you need to do today...and then you can move on from there. You can also customize that Outlook Today screen. For example, you can choose how many days of your calendar you'd like to see, how many tasks and how to arrange your them, and even the style and color of the Outlook Window.
Here's what you get when you select the Summer style:
Interested in trying it out? Brainstorm has a really great demo that shows you what Outlook Today can offer.
Always start up in Outlook Today
See what Outlook Today is before you commit
Okay, I get it: You're not into blind dates. You want to see what this Outlook Today thing is all about before you commit. In Mail, if you're using If you're using Outlook with Exchange, click Mailbox - Your Name or Mailbox - Your Email Address. If you're using a Person Folders file (.pst) as your mailbox, click the name of that file.
I really like starting my work day in Outlook Today; not everyone does. But I guess you won't know unless you try it out.
Yeah, it looks tempting and I have to agree that starting out in some kind of overview can often turn out even /more/ productive than you may expect at first. My Outlook manages several mail sources (in short; 6 mail accounts, 2 shared accounts ('imap') and obviously my trusted Hotmail (which I can finally read directly from my mail application, yay!)). I don't even use search folders (not yet anyway).
As tempting as it is my Outlook starts up in the Business Contact Manager dashboard (which I have customized a little).
Its really like you said up there; as tempting as it is to dive into your e-mail head first it can be much more productive to prepare yourself for the dive first (that's what I like to call it anyway).
I won't be checking out the plugin because I have no need for it, but I really enjoyed reading both your blog post and fully agree with your story!
I totally understand how one doesn't want to read business mails in the morning. Every time I come to work I see a bunch of mails I really don't want to open.
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I would totally use Outlook Today I think except for one thing. Outlook Today has not changed or improved in... well... EVER! This is the same Outlook Today since Office '97. SOmeone - maybe a MS Office Lab'er - needs to come up with something cool. :)