Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Office 365 are among the most popular personal information management tools currently on the market. In 2016, there were approximately 1.2 billion Microsoft Office users and 60 million monthly active 365 users. As of 2019, 1 in 5 corporate employees was using Office 365, with the highest number of users in service industries like IT, financial services, and healthcare. Even as Google has introduced increasingly-competitive tools to their G Suite, Microsoft has continued to see strong growth, with Office 365 users comprising 81% of all organizations that have moved entirely to cloud services.
Part of the reason for this popularity is likely familiarity. Outlook and 365 function very similarly to the Microsoft Office Suite that so many businesses rely on. But another big factor for their popularity is the extensive integration across productivity tools: an email received through 365 can easily be added to the 365 calendar with a single click of a mouse, and data from an Excel spreadsheet can be selected and integrated into that message you’re about to send from Teams, the IM system that’s built into Outlook. Microsoft truly aims to provide a comprehensive set of tools to meet their customers’ needs.
However, a study from Harmon.ie suggests that 34% of office workers don’t receive training on the tools their company uses. Respondents often claimed lack of knowledge or hesitance to use new technology hindered them from using more of the tools at their disposal. As a result, many workers just don’t use the powerful tools included in their company’s software package. For instance, while 55% of people surveyed said they use Outlook more than any other app—with 58% of people saying that use it at least 10 times daily—only 16% of users said Teams was one of their most frequently-used apps.
These neglected tools have become more important now that so many more employees are working from home. That’s why the team at TracSoft decided to put together our favorite productivity tips for using Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft 365.
Productivity Tips For Microsoft Outlook
Our first productivity tip is to download the right Microsoft apps based on your needs. Microsoft offers a robust and highly-rated Outlook app for Apple and Android devices. Installing this on your phone or tablet is a great way to have your email, calendar, reminders, and contacts with you wherever you go. But Microsoft also offers mobile versions of the MS Office Suite. You can either download the Microsoft Office App (which contains Word, Excel, and PowerPoint in one app), or you can download them individually if you only need specific apps.
We’ve all experienced the panic of sending out an email only to realize it contains an error. Thankfully, Outlook has a feature that allows you to recall a sent message. Simply open your Sent folder and click on the email to recall. Select the Move option and click on Actions. Now click Recall This Message and choose Delete Unread Copies of This Message. You can now correct and resend your error-free message.
Hunting down an important message from weeks back can be a time-consuming pain, but sometimes it’s necessary. An excellent productivity tip to solve this issue is using the bookmark feature that enables you to label specific messages and find them quickly. Simply open an email message, select Insert from the menu ribbon at the top, and choose “Bookmark” from the Links section. A new window will open where you can name and save your book. To retrieve a bookmark later, go to Insert and select “Bookmark” from the Links group. A window will open where you can type the name of the bookmark and select “Go To” to be taken to any messages associated with that bookmark. This function works with IM messages as well as email messages.
Another useful feature outlook offers is creating additional calendars. This can be incredibly helpful if your calendar becomes especially cluttered, you belong to multiple teams or committees, or you want to have a personal calendar for doctor’s appointments and kids’ activities. In the Microsoft Outlook Calendar, select Folder from the top menu. In the New group on the menu bar, select New Calendar. Name the calendar and under “Folder contains” choose “Calendar items.” Once you click OK, the calendar will appear in your Calendar Navigation pane on the bottom left of your screen. By checking the box next to the calendar, you can filter whether items from that calendar show on your main calendar or not. You can also uncheck your main calendar to view only your new calendar.
OneNote is Microsoft’s answer to tools like Evernote or Google Keep. It’s meant to function like a notebook, where you can jot down information and easily find, organize, and share it later. What many people don’t realize, however, is that you can easily convert an OneNote item to a calendar item. To do this, select the words in OneNote that you want to convert to a task. A formatting menu will appear. From this menu, select the flag icon and choose a date for the reminder. This will automatically sync the note to your calendar.
Productivity Tips For Microsoft 365
One of the most powerful features of Microsoft 365 is its cloud storage function called OneDrive. This cloud storage is linked with your 365 email account and will automatically save your progress at regular intervals as you work. That by itself is an amazingly convenient feature, but our next productivity tip makes it easy to share files without having to move them to a thumb drive or email them. Simply right-click the file and select Share from the menu, or open the file and choose Share from the toolbar along the top. Then enter the email addresses of the people you want to have access to that file.
Once a file is shared, you and your coworkers can actually work on the file together in real-time. Each edit to the document will be tagged and color-coded so everyone can see who changed what content. OneDrive will also save your last 25 versions, so if you decide you don’t like a change that has been made, you can always refer back to an earlier draft. This is a great productivity tip that eliminates the need to manually save multiple versions of a document (that may potentially get mixed up at some point). Simply select the file, choose More from the menu at the top, and choose Version History.
Now more than ever it is important but challenging to stay in touch with coworkers, but Microsoft 365 makes this easier. While editing a document together, simply click a coworker’s picture (displayed along the top of the document) to open a chat window. Or install Microsoft Teams to have instant messaging available all the time. If your company doesn’t pay for Teams, you should also have access to Microsoft’s Skype messaging that comes with Outlook (this used to be known as “Lync”). This is a great way to stay in touch with coworkers who might be off their regular schedule if they’re out of the office for the day, as well as a way to avoid unnecessary phone calls.
Although Microsoft 365 offers a lot of tools and features, sometimes you might have an outside tool your company uses a lot, such as social media accounts, Trello, or Slack. If that’s the case, our next productivity tip is for you. Using connectors, you can sync outside tools with the tools you use from 365. Simply open Teams, choose More Options, select Connectors, and click Choose Connectors. This will offer you a list of compatible tools. Simply click on the tools you’d like to use and 365 will walk you through the process of signing in and syncing up.
Every department has a series of documents that are unique and essential to them. But finding those documents on an intranet or file cabinet can be a struggle. This is why the libraries feature of SharePoint is so useful. SharePoint is similar to OneDrive, except it is a company-wide secure storage location. By creating multiple libraries in your SharePoint, you can consolidate, organize, and share important documents. You can even control permissions so only employees in specific departments have access to a particular library. You can also set libraries to be open to all employees, which is a great way to make employee handbooks, training materials, and other important documents available. Also, if a document needs to be updated, it can be updated in SharePoint and all updates will be instantly accessible by all employees.
To create a library, log into SharePoint. Choose Site Actions and click Create. Under Libraries click on Document Library. You will need to enter information about the library you are creating, such as a name, description, where you want links to the library to appear, whether you want to save a history of different versions of the documents in the library, and whether you want documents in the library to use a certain template. Once you’ve entered this information, click Create and you are ready to upload documents to your new library.
Powerful Software Doesn’t Have To Be Scary
One of the intimidating things about learning powerful software is that the more software can do, the more menus, options, and settings you have to learn. This can be a turnoff for many users who simply want to do their job rather than tinker with their PCs. There’s also the added fear many users experience that they might make a bad change that can’t be undone.
While interconnected and web-based software has become much more complicated than the basic Word/PowerPoint/Excel most of us remember from the 90s and early 2000s, the good news is that there are more video tutorials and “how-to” blogs available than in the past. Plus, automated backups mean that documents are much more secure than in the past, so don’t be afraid to try things! There’s never been a better time to experiment than now when the way we work is making us increasingly dependent on these tools.
Pre-packaged software can be great, but sometimes it doesn’t meet all the needs of a business. If your business has functions you’d like to automate or simplify, but you can’t find the right software, contact TracSoft about our custom business app development services. We can create the tools you need to power your business the right way.
Even the best software sometimes needs an update. But updates take time and can introduce new problems to an otherwise stable system. Don’t take a chance or waste your valuable time! Contact TracSoft about our reliable remote patch management. We will test updates before ever installing them on any of your computers, and when we know they are safe, we will roll them out remotely so your employees experience minimal interruptions.