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Going Further with Microsoft Outlook

Microsoft Outlook offers several features that can help organize your busy life. If you’re just getting started with Outlook, check out Part 1 of this series here. One often overlooked feature that exists within Outlook is the fact that you can click and drag emails in order to create new contact information, calendar items, and tasks. Dragging the selected message to the Calendar, Contact, or Task tab on the left-hand pane of your Outlook window will automatically pull up a prompt to create one of these new items with your email message already attached. You may need to add a few things – such as a specific time of the meeting or the job title of an individual you are adding as a contact – but overall, this does save some time. Managing Your Contacts Outlook’s Contact Manager allows users a quick interface in which they can access anyone in which the user wishes to keep in contact with. The simplest way to create a new contact is within an email itself. Right-clicking the email address or name that you wish to add as a contact will bring up a drop-down menu in which you will want to select “Open Outlook Contact” or “Add to Contacts.” This will bring up the contact menu in which you can add as much information as you like. Notice that Outlook also gives users the option to categorize the contact, which becomes useful when you want to keep things in order. You may also create new contacts from directly from Outlook’s UI. Simply click “Contacts” on the left-hand pane and then select “New” from the ribbon above. You will then see a drop down menu in which you can select “Contact” and then manually enter all of the information. Operating within the contacts menu is very useful within itself.  Highlighting the contact you want to correspond with allows the user several quick options. After clicking you contact, simply click “E-mail” if you would like to send an e-mail to that contact or click “Meeting” if you would like to schedule a meeting. Outlook will auto-populate the email address. Calendar Outlook’s Calendar feature allows users basic features such as creating an event, but it also allows more advanced features, such as setting up meetings, reminders, and tasks. Clicking the “Calendar” option on the left-hand pane of the Outlook menu will bring up Outlook’s main calendar UI. The first thing to notice is that you will have many different viewing options available from the ribbon above. “Day” view will show an in-depth view of the day’s planned activities. “Work” will show a slightly less in-depth view of Monday-Friday. “Week” shows Sunday-Saturday. Finally, the “Month” view only puts highlight bars on the days in which events are planned. You will need to click on the bar itself in order to view its details. It is important to note that Outlook will provide a calendar for every email account that you have synced with it. Because of this, any calendar that you have set up through another client, for example Gmail, should automatically sync with Outlook. This provides a convenient link if you are not able to use Outlook wherever you are. For instance, if your work uses Google Apps, anything you set up in your Gmail calendar will automatically sync with your Outlook account at home. Setting up a new event, or “Appointment” as they are called within Outlook, within the calendar is simple. Double-click on the day in which you would like to add the event and a new window will appear prompting you to...

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Schedule Once a Big Help in Event Organization

I know sometimes I look like a really busy man, at least on paper. My friends and family often ask me how I keep all my classes, shows, tasks and events organized. Many years ago, I relied on old-school paper organizers, a couple of highlighters and a lot of sticky notes. I had a pretty amazing scheduling system that no one else on this planet would be able to understand. My appointment acronyms and color coding of meetings might’ve looked like the handywork of a messy third-grader, but it made perfect sense to me and that’s all that mattered. Today, life is even more complicated and I’ve ditched my paper system for a combination of nine Google calendars, a smartphone and a lot of automated reminders. I still make mistakes from time to time, but these tools provide me with enough power to know where I need to be at all times. While I may know where I’m supposed to be on most days of the week, other people I may need to collaborate with are a different story. Recently, one of my employees introduced me to an amazing tool called Schedule Once. It’s already saved me a couple of times when trying to plan events based around other people’s schedules. My old-school method would’ve involved me setting an event date and time, contacting the invitees by phone or email, hoping enough people can attend the event as planned and then, upon finding out the date only works for half the invitees, finding a new date and starting over. Hours would be wasted going back and forth through this process. With Schedule Once, the nightmare of scheduling with other people has gotten a lot simpler. First, I can set the preferred date and duration that I want the event to be held. Next, I invite the attendees and have them go online to my Schedule Once calendar to see what I’ve posted. Each invitee can then mark which dates will work best for them. Then, Schedule Once sends me an email to alert me that someone has responded on the calendar. I can check in once all the invitees have gotten back to me. Finally, Schedule Once provides a simple, user-friendly interface to show me the best date and time for the entire group based on their responses. It even suggests the perfect time based on the number of matching responses, the duration of the event and other pertinent details. To top it all off, Schedule Once is free and integrates with my existing Google calendars. When I’ve locked in the event time, I simply confirm it in Schedule Once and it adds an appointment in my Google calendar automatically. My highlighters and organizers might hate it, but Schedule Once has become of my new favorite online tools. [Originally published in The Coloradoan on...

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