Best Practices for Using Microsoft Outlook from a Sales Perspective

Arrow-Tip #15 You Might Be a Microsoft Outlook Snoozaholic If…

You might be an Outlook Snoozaholic if:

  • In the morning when your alarm goes off, you reach for your mouse instead of your clock
  • It takes you 15 minutes to scroll down to the oldest item in the reminder window
  • You stopped bothering to look at the top item in the reminder window 3 months ago
  • You can relate to Nigel when he says “5 minutes really isn’t enough time for a good snooze”
  • You’ve reset the default snooze period from 5 minutes to 2 weeks.

OK, these bullets are a little extreme, but if they even remotely ring true or even if you’re just mildly annoyed every time you open Outlook and the Reminder Window pops up, read on to find the solution.

We all struggle with identifying what really isn’t that urgent – everything seems important these days. But the truth is that if everything is important, then really nothing is and the next thing you know you are missing meetings because you started ignoring your Outlook alarms. The fact is, that if you rely on your Outlook Reminder Window to identify what is important, you are one step away from the organizational abyss – the day when you start ignoring your alarm and functioning in reactive mode.

Really Outlook reminders or alarms should only be used for one thing – to signal an event is imminent e.g. an appointment or a scheduled conference call. Whether you make the appointment or not, you can dismiss the alarm and clear the way for other imminent event alarms not to be ignored. Also remember that conference calls are those that you have scheduled for a specific time while other non scheduled calls should be managed through your Today’s Call List view in your contact folder – See Arrow-Tip #2 for more information on follow-up calls.

So what about all of the other very important tasks that need to be addressed by a certain date? Many of you will not like this, but the answer is clearly the proper use of the Outlook Task folder. By proper use, I mean that every task gets recorded and prioritized and you take the time to review your tasks every day. And just like with alarms, you have to exercise discipline when determining which tasks are truly high priority – if you have more than 10 on any given day, they are most likely not all going to get done. My personal favorite way to view tasks is the Franklyn Day Planner method, so I have created a custom view that mimics that methodology (How To coming soon – see thumbnail below).

Today’s Task List Screen Print

The fact is that rarely will you get every task you consider important accomplished the day it is due – so much to do and only a limited time to do it in. That is why it is very important to have specific goals. If you have taken the time to identify goals regularly (I do it with a recurring task so they are easy to find and reference), then you can quickly evaluate which tasks are critical to helping you accomplish those goals. And if you consistently feel tempted to let those tasks take a back seat to tasks unrelated to your goals, maybe it is time to re-examine those goals.

What is fair and in fact a good practice is to set appointments on your calendar to work on high priority tasks – and you can assign alarms to those appointments. Just be careful to not rely on the Calendar to store your tasks – if you don’t get to work on a task during the time you blocked off on your calendar, the task will still be unchecked in your task list, but the appointment on your calendar will disappear the next day or week depending on how you like to view your calendar.

So here are some quick bullets you guide you when you go to clean out your Reminder Window:

  • If the item is not tied to a time critical event, dismiss it and create a task
  • If the item is a past appointment – dismiss it and reschedule if necessary
  • Use the Task folder to create your To Do list and check it every day
  • Keep the number of high priority tasks for any given day under 10
  • Use your goals to help prioritize tasks
  • and if none of the previous bullets work for you, seek out your local Outlook Snoozaholic chapter or give Misty a call.

This post was written by MistyKhan and published on January 10, 2008 in the following categories: Arrow Tips, Calendar, Front Page, Tasks. You can leave trackbacks on this post at this address. To follow the comments on this post subscribe to the RSS feed.


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