outlookOutlook offers some powerful features for managing your e-mail, hospital remedy meetings, and contacts. The problem is, it offers so much that learning to use it all efficiently can take time. Some options are buried several menus deep. Others just aren’t as intuitive as they should be. The key to using Outlook efficiently is to customize its many views and options to suit your working habits. (If you’re using a version earlier than 2003, you might have to adjust the steps a bit.)

When entering the start and due dates for a new task, you don’t have to type the entire date. If a date is in the current month, just enter the day and Outlook will enter the rest of the date for you. For instance, if the current month is March and you enter 14, Outlook assumes you mean March 14 of the current year and fills in that date.

For a variety of reasons, some of us end up printing e-mail messages. If you print most of your messages, or all of your messages from a specific source, opening each message to print it manually interrupts your work. Setting a rule to print the desired incoming mail might be more efficient. You can figure it out!

When you reply to an e-mail, Outlook stores a copy of that message in the Sent folder. Instead, store your replies with the original message. For instance, suppose you automatically route all your messages from a customer into a folder named for that customer. If you want Outlook to store your replies with the original messages, do the following:

  1. From the Tools menu, choose Options.
  2. On the Preferences tab (which should be selected by default), click E-mail Options in the E-mail section.
  3. Click Advanced E-mail Options at the bottom of the Message Handling section.
  4. In the Save Messages section, select the In Folders Other Than The Inbox, Save Replies With The Original Message check box and then click OK three times to return to Outlook.

Outlook will apply this setting to all of your personal folders. Just remember that Outlook saves replies with the original message and not in the Sent folder only when the original message is in a folder other than the Inbox. Outlook continues to save all replies sent from messages in the Inbox in the Sent folder.

By default, the Work Week calendar view displays the five days of the traditional business week, Monday through Friday. To include Saturday and Sunday in that view, choose Options from the Tools menu. In the resulting Options dialog box, click Calendar Options in the Calendar section. In the Calendar Options dialog box, check Sat and Sun in the Calendar Work Week section. Then, click OK twice to return to the Calendar. You don’t have to view a seven- or traditional five-day work week. Check the days of the week that apply to you for a custom work week view. For example, if you work Wednesday through Sunday, you can make those selections to build a view that reflects your schedule.

So there you have it – a few Outlook tips to make your life easier, but of course you won’t know unless you try it for yourself!