How to Maximize Your Efficiency With Microsoft Outlook

Microsoft Outlook is an all-in-one software program for managing emails, calendars, contacts and tasks in one convenient space. By following a few productivity tips you can increase efficiency with this tool.

Color-coded categories and automated rules can help you more efficiently organize your inbox, helping you locate important emails more quickly while prioritizing tasks.


Microsoft Outlook is an email application available as part of the Microsoft Office Suite that can be used both professionally and privately. Users can utilize its features for managing email, contacts, calendars and tasks all from within one program – with customizable folders and filters to help manage inboxes as well as tracking projects and deadlines as well as sharing contact lists or scheduling meetings with colleagues.

Microsoft Outlook employs folders and rules to organize emails, in contrast with Gmail which uses labels. The Folder Pane displays all email folders while the Message List shows emails in any selected folder. Messages may be moved between folders or flagged and tagged according to specific rules for easy management of an entire mailbox.

Outlook also features an Archive feature to make searching for archived messages more easily, unlike deleted emails that cannot be searched or found again. Inbox folders can also be easily added but only ones containing emails you intend to keep should be added as they will become part of the inbox list. Creating new folders may seem easy but be wary when adding any more than necessary – only add folders containing emails you intend on keeping should make sense for you!

If you need to move a message, select it and choose Move To before choosing where it should go. Outlook will notify the owner that their message has been moved while also showing where in their Message List it has been moved to.

Search can quickly locate items in your email, while custom filters enable you to automatically sort messages based on specific criteria (e.g. if an unresponded-to message has not been answered in three minutes, set it so it will move into Follow Up folder automatically).

Outlook’s task management tools make it easy to assign tasks among team members and keep projects on schedule. When given a task, accept or decline it; accepting will show up in your Outlook task list while declining will remain as an unread item in your inbox.


Microsoft Outlook’s Calendar feature is an effective way of organizing meetings and scheduling appointments, as it syncs with other Microsoft tools such as Teams and OneDrive for easier workflow management. Furthermore, this tool supports multiple languages as well as offering customization features like calendar views and color coding for enhanced productivity.

This feature is available as a desktop app, web app and iOS/Android mobile apps – seamlessly integrating into Microsoft Office suite and supporting multiple accounts allowing you to keep track of work commitments, family obligations and any other commitments easily. Creating events with multiple attendees or setting reminders are also features available within this feature.

Microsoft Calendar’s search function offers accurate results that make it simple to locate what you’re searching for, while keyboard shortcuts make navigating it quicker and save time – proving particularly helpful for users with mobility or vision impairments.

Scheduling Assistant is another outstanding feature of this tool that can assist with finding a meeting time that works for everyone attending. When activated, a grid appears with all free schedules of those you have invited into the meeting; making it simple for all attendees to find an acceptable date/time combination.

Outlook Calendar differs from competing products by not automatically showing attendee responses to meetings on your primary calendar; you must instead refer to email for confirmation if an invitee has accepted or declined your meeting request. The app does offer the ability to add extra buffer time between meetings so you have time for snacks or email before moving onto the next event on your agenda.

One downside of Microsoft Calendar is its requirement of an internet connection, which may pose difficulties for certain users. Furthermore, its free version doesn’t sync across devices and its service is unavailable if either power or Internet goes out – as such you should consider switching to its paid version or another scheduling solution instead for meetings and appointments.


Your Contacts folder (formerly People pane) displays a list of names, email addresses and other information about individuals or organizations. Each contact can have one record; multiple records can also be combined into groups for easier viewing and organization. In addition to adding notes directly onto records or groups for easier organization. You can share contacts with other users as well. When sending a message through Mail, use your To, Cc and Bcc buttons for this function.

As a business user with multiple devices – such as PCs and mobile phones – it can be challenging to ensure all contacts remain up-to-date. Luckily, certain devices offer integration between themselves and Outlook that ensures you always have access to the most recent information.

One of the greatest strengths of Outlook is its ability to filter and sort contacts by various criteria. You can organize your Contacts folder into groups or categories such as family or work to make finding information easier. Furthermore, you can create a Favorites list which features those contacts you often interact with or wish to keep track of.

Add individuals to your Favorites by selecting them individually and clicking Add to Favorites on the ribbon. Color categorization makes contacts even easier to identify; and, should your Favorite list become too extensive, simply delete all contacts using the “Delete All” button.

Outlook makes managing contacts easy, thanks to its ability to synchronize with other applications like Microsoft Exchange or Apple iCloud. But if you aren’t careful, this could lead to duplicate contact records that require time-consuming merge operations to merge back together.

CiraSync provides users with another alternative; this third-party application enables them to synchronize contacts from their GAL with mobile phones and desktop computers for easy use outside the office, ensuring they remain up-to-date on colleagues’ contact details at all times. This solution may prove particularly valuable when traveling for business trips.


Many people keep track of their tasks using some combination of physical to-do lists, digital applications or both. Microsoft Outlook offers an effective task management system which enables you to create tasks, assign them to others, set due dates and reminders, track progress and organize tasks into categories – even assigning colors so you can easily differentiate one task from another!

Access your tasks easily using either the left side navigation pane or clicking on the Tasks icon in the ribbon. In the Tasks window, use the New Items button to create new tasks – fill in a name for this assignment in Subject, select due date/reminder time as well as mark as done/completed boxes as appropriate and use Priority field to rank tasks, helping keep you focused and accountable.

When an email contains a task request, flag it and click on the Tasks button in Quick Access Bar to convert it to a task. This saves time from writing out full task descriptions; additionally, reminder times and priority levels can also be assigned as you can easily assign it either yourself or someone else.

Track your actual and total work on projects using the Actual Work and Total Work fields of the Tasks window. This feature is especially helpful for freelancers charging by the hour, or employees reporting their hours to their supervisor. Even without using To Do itself, Peek View allows you to quickly view tasks while working in email; simply place your mouse pointer over the lower left corner of your screen until “Dock the peek view” appears in its top-right corner and click.

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