By the spring of 2020, Microsoft’s Office 365 was being used by over a million organisations worldwide with an impressive 200 million monthly active users. As a key part of the firm’s Office 365 suite, Outlook – Microsoft’s e-mail client – is now also used by millions of people globally. There’s a mobile version, Outlook Mobile; a webmail version, Outlook.com and Outlook on the web, a business version of Microsoft Outlook. All have enjoyed steady growth in recent years, as they enable users to streamline their e-mail, calendar, contacts, tasks and more; keeping all their day-to-day stuff, all in one place. As London’s go IT support partner, we come across a lot of Microsoft Office 365 and Outlook fans and help them to optimise their use of this subscription service. Now to help you minimise waste and maximise productivity, in this blog post we’re going to provide you with nearly a dozen ways you can also get more out of Outlook 365.

11 ways you can do more with Microsoft’s Outlook Office 365

Chances are that most people aren’t using any of the above versions of Microsoft’s Office or Outlook 365 to their full potential. However, with so many people using these apps in so many ways across the world, if they all save just a few minutes each day with the 11 tips below, it adds up to impressive efficiency savings in the longer term.

Have Cortana talk to you

Once you’ve set this service up in Outlook, you can play and listen to your e-mails when you’re on the move via Microsoft’s Cortana personal productivity assistant.

What’s more, you can manage them on the go, too. That means you can unread, flag, delete and reply to messages, all hands-free, all with just your voice.

Cortana’s AI can also help you to stay on top of it all – letting you know about changes to events and even identifying schedule conflicts on your calendar.

De-clutter your inbox?

In life, as in your e-mail inbox, clutter is a major cause of stress, especially on your phone. So why not make scanning your inbox for the e-mail you need to see quick and easy with a Focused Inbox?

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Just create the equivalent of two inboxes – Focused and Other – and you’re good to go. You can toggle between them with a simple slide of the button on top of your inbox. Outlook then sorts your e-mail for you, moving important stuff to ‘Focussed’ and things like junk mail to ‘Other.’ You can quickly reclassify messages when you need to by moving them from one section of the inbox to the other.

You can even have Outlook move communications from any particular senders to a particular inbox by using the ‘Always Move to Focused’ option.

Last but far from least, the more you use the Focused Inbox feature, the smarter it gets in helping you to focus on what matters.

Share your calendars

Shared Calendars in Outlook lets you reduce the time and hassle associated with scheduling yet another meeting. Simply go into your calendar settings and select people you would like to share with, such as colleagues or friends.

You can colour-code different teams and manage permissions to enable those you’re sharing with to view only, edit or manage your calendar. Moreover, for even greater flexibility, you can also choose what details you share deciding between All, Only Titles and Locations, or Only When I’m Busy.

Arrange meetings with Scheduling Assistant

When you’re sharing your calendars as we suggest above, try using Scheduling Assistant in mobile instead of e-mailing back and forth to come up with a time that’s convenient for everyone to get together.

Simply create an event on your calendar, add the people you want to invite, use the Scheduling Assistant time picker to drag and drop to a time on the calendar. If it turns green, it means everyone’s good to attend, book it!

Mention names attract people’s attention 

With Outlook’s @mentions function, you can mention a name (i.e. @John) in an e-mail message and the recipient will see they’ve been called into the conversation.

Conversely, when other people @mention you, the inbox displays the relevant sentences around your @mention directly in your message excerpt – so you know exactly what you need to heed at a glance.

Simplify your life with Swipe options 

Open Outlook mobile Settings and select Swipe Options, you can then assign Swipe Right or Swipe Left to a number of preferred actions in your inbox, including:

  • Delete
  • Mark as Read
  • Mark as Unread
  • Flag
  • Archive

Stop distractions with ‘Do not disturb’

We all know how endlessly checking e-mail is distracting. Stay in the moment and focus on your work by using the ‘Do not disturb’ function. By turning off notifications from apps, so you can turn your attention fully to that deadline you’re working to.

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Do not disturb is flexible – use it to set a quiet period each afternoon to plan for the following day’s work or start a timed session that starts right away on as-needed basis.

Block e-mails from specific senders

While for the for the most effective cybersecurity you should only trust true anti-spam protection deployed by your trusted IT support partner, you can do you bit by doing specific things to block junk e-mail.

Simply, click Home and then Junk e-mail options, then in the new window that opens you can identify which senders (and even which countries) you want to block as spam.

Stick to sticky notes for quick reminders

Press Ctrl and Shift and N from anywhere in your Outlook interface and you can create a new note that can be dragged and positioned anywhere on your screen as a visible reminder. It’s faster and easier than manually entering notes into your calendar.

Use Notifications to show you what’s important

Don’t have a notification pop up every time a message lands in your inbox, it’s so distracting. Instead, turn off desktop alerts in File > Options > Mail Options and create a custom rule to only display alerts for messages sent to you by specific contacts.

Conquer those keyboard shortcuts 

Knowing and using your keyboard shortcuts can be a major time and hassle saver. Try these for starters:

  • Ctrl + R (reply to an email)
  • Alt + R (reply all),
  • Alt + W (forward an email)
  • Alt + S (send an email)
  • Ctrl + G (go to any date on your calendar)

Try these tips to save time and effort

With Microsoft’s Office 365 and Outlook in its various versions being at the heart of so much business communication, here in London and right across the world, even the simple tips we’ve outlined above could have a major impact on your teams’ efficiency – especially when they’re working on the move.

But if you’d like to achieve even more with Microsoft Office 365, why not have a confidential, no obligation discussion with us? Our highly experienced and expert IT support partner team has earned two consecutive Feefo Gold Trusted Service Awards, Five Star ratings from both Trustpilot and Google and a 98% client retention rate.

What’s more, as a leading Microsoft certified partner with over a dozen years of hard-earned, hands-on knowledge to call upon, we’ve flawlessly managed numerous Microsoft Office 365 improvement, implementation and migration projects for small and medium-sized businesses across London. That includes our certified migration specialists successfully moving tens of thousands of client e-mail mailboxes from other platforms to Outlook 365.

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COVID-19 Update: Face-to-face IT meetings have been temporarily replaced with Microsoft Teams sessions, and our engineers will be able to carry out IT assessments remotely.