I have to hand it to Microsoft. When they do something right, they really nail it. Such is the case with Microsoft Outlook and Exchange. I’ve been through my slew of email solutions in the past, but Outlook coupled with hosted Exchange simply works. It is rock solid. If Microsoft can do to Live Mesh what they’ve accomplished with Outlook and Exchange, they will be a dominant player in the online data sharing space. Take a look at Walt Mossberg’s review of MobileMe to see how Apple is struggling just to play in the whole email sync / mesh game – “Exchange for the rest of us” it is not.
As I’ve gotten back to the productive world of Outlook and Exchange, here are some tips I’d like to pass along – just stuff that helps me stay productive.
- create categories and apply email to those categories as they come in. I apply categories based upon type of work I need to, customer, project, etc. Just do whatever fits your work style.
- I use the follow-up flag to mark those emails I need to go back and review. By flagging an email as “follow-up”, it automatically shows up in my To-Do bar
- Collapse your To-Do Bar when you are not using it or when in tablet mode. It will save a lot of screen real estate.
- create a single folder for processed mail and move all of your email there once you’ve read it. This helps keeps your Inbox clean both in Outlook and your mobile device. I rely on categories and search to find the email I need, thus the reason for only one sub-folder
- Categorize your appts and tasks, too. Having colors represent various tasks / projects / customers visually helps when looking at the calendar in a monthly view, or quickly glancing a list.
- Set up rules to automatically apply categories to incoming mail. For example, automatically categorize all email from a customer’s domain with the a category set up for that customer.
- Keep your RSS feeds out of Outlook – it is dog slow and a pain to clean-up after importing them. I use Google Reader for my RSS.
- Use hosted Exchange solutions like MailStreet.com and Mail2Web for no-hassle over-the-air syncing of contacts, calendars, tasks, and email. Seamless sync between multiple computers and mobile phones is rock-solid.
- Set up search folders for custom views: emails by category, to-do’s by category, etc.
- Use software like Tablet Enhancements for Outlook to ink tasks, contacts, and calendars. This is very helpful when operating in slate / tablet mode.
Share with other GBM readers your favorite Outlook tips.