What About Outlook’s Focused Inbox?

May 27, 2018

Many of you may be seeing some labels at the top of your Outlook Inbox that say Focused and Other. This is a new feature available in the latest versions of Outlook that Microsoft is using to reduce clutter in your Inbox.

 

When this is turned on, Microsoft automatically moves “lower value” mail to the Other tab, thus freeing the default-selected Focused tab from that clutter. The Focused tab essentially becomes the Inbox you look at each day. And while Microsoft initially guesses at which mail should be moved, you can adjust that, somewhat, after you start using it. By the way, this replaces Microsoft’s previous method of clearing clutter: its use of the Clutter folder, which has now been deprecated (but that can still be used through 2020).

Not a Spam Filter

Note, this does not replace your Junk folder; true spam still goes there. Rather, the Other tab is for newsletters, or social media notices, or similar mail that you purposely subscribe to, but that flood your Inbox and distract you from your important mail. So mail in the Other tab is considered email you might want to read later.

Implications, Issues

As you can imagine, there are a ton of implications to using this. How does Microsoft initially decide which mail should be moved? If they get it wrong, you might miss some mail you want to see in you main Inbox (I know, I did). And while it is adjustable, those adjustments are limited to sender-name only.

Also, in your standard smartphone Mail app, all mail in both tabs is combined into your single Inbox. Most Mail apps have no visibility of Focused and Other, so your mobile device will still be cluttered. The only way to fix that is to switch to the Outlook app on your smartphone.

Because of these multiple issues, I personally favor using Outlook Rules, instead, to accomplish this sort of Inbox cleaning—Rules offer a ton more decision options. And Rules allow you to auto-move low-value mail to true Outlook folders, ones your mobile apps will recognize.

But using Focused is definitely easier than using Rules, so Focused might be your best solution to Inbox clutter if you are not ready to dig into the Rules menus.

To Learn More

If you want to consider activating Focused Inbox, or if you have it now and want to learn more, then watch Lesson 2.9 in my new Outlook Inbox Ninja video course. It shows you how to turn Focused on and off, and how to “train” it. It also shows how to use the Clutter folder or turn it off. And the entire set of videos in Section 2 of that course, nine excellent videos, teaches you all about using Outlook Rules to auto-clean your Inbox in a more powerful way than the Focused Inbox ever could.

Michael

Consider Using Outlook’s Archive Button

May 25, 2018

Nearly all new copies of Outlook these days (those on Windows desktop, Mac, Outlook.com, Outlook smartphone app, and Outlook on the Web) have the ability to use the Archive Button. If yours has that button, you should consider using it. It’s an excellent single-folder filing tool.

 

To find it, look on your Home tab next to the Delete button. Note that it’s only available in the latest Outlook versions (e.g. later releases of 2016) and with newer Exchange Server or Outlook.com servers. So if updating your copy Outlook doesn’t make it appear, sorry you are out of luck.

Easy to Use

It’s a great tool because it’s so easy to use. With any mail selected in your Inbox, just click the button (or tap the Backspace key on your keyboard), and the mail gets moved to (an automatically created) Archive folder.

 

You can use it just like I recommend you use the Processed Mail folder, and it can replace that folder in my MYN system.

The Archive button is also present at the top of each fully opened mail message, so you can file right from an open message, which is convenient.

Not True Archiving

It acts a lot like the Archive button in Gmail in that it simply moves the mail to a different part of your server. So like Gmail it’s not true archiving because it does not free up space on your server. But many of us these days have plenty of server space and can go years without cleaning the server.

For More Information

Lesson 1.4 in the new Outlook Inbox Ninja video course teaches you details of using the Archive button to speed up your mail processing, and many other lessons in that course show you how to integrate its use. And section 7 of that course shows you how to do true archiving in case your server does in fact fill up eventually.

So consider giving the Archive button a try.

Michael

Two New 1MTD Videos Added to Outlook Inbox Ninja Video Course

May 8, 2018

If you bought the Outlook Inbox Ninja Course I released last month, and if you bought the version that includes 1MTD Task videos, I’ve added two new videos to the 1MTD Tasks section (section 4) and they are included free with your subscription. If you bought the Outlook Inbox Ninja Course version without 1MTD tasks, then see this blog post  about how to upgrade to the 1MTD tasks version for a nominal fee.

The two new videos are about extending the power of 1MTD without upgrading to MYN. The first new video, 4.9, shows how to use 1MTD to handle more tasks, and the second, 4.10, shows how to add a Target Now section to 1MTD to give you better daily focus.

Just log into your paid Ninja Course video page, and scroll down to the bottom of section 4 to watch these videos, they are in there now.

And if you have not yet purchased the new Outlook Inbox Ninja Course, think about doing now, it keeps getting better and better, so check it out.

Michael

Upgrade Your Outlook Inbox Ninja Class

May 6, 2018

If you bought the Outlook Inbox Ninja Course that I released last month, but you got the version without the 1MTD Tasks section, you can upgrade to the course version that includes the 1MTD tasks videos, for a nominal fee (slightly more than the price difference). I recently received a few requests for that, so we just added that upgrade option.

To do this, first log into your version, the one without the tasks. You need to do that to tell the system that you are eligible for that upgrade.

Then, in a new tab in the same browser, go to this link to make the upgrade.

And then, after the upgrade purchase is made, go to this link to see and use the full video set, the one with the 1MTD task videos.

Even if you already know how to use 1MTD, these videos in the full Outlook Inbox Ninja class add a number of advanced features compared to what is in the 1MTD book, so they are worth it.

Here is a full list of the 1MTD videos in that upgraded class:

 

Michael

 

The “All” Menu is Gone in recent Windows Outlook 2016 Inbox Update

May 1, 2018

Almost exactly a year ago, Microsoft changed the menus at the top of the Windows Desktop Outlook 2016 Inbox. By “menus” I mean the sorting and filtering controls right above the list of mail, but below the Ribbon menus.

What they’d had for most of 2016 through May of 2017 was this sequence of controls/buttons that you see at the top of the image below, specifically: All; Unread; By Date; and Newest.

 

In May of 2017 they replaced that with simply the folder name (Inbox), and an “All” menu, as shown here:

 

Or if your window was wider it looked like this, with Search box to right:

 

That new All menu on the right collected all the same menus the previous controls had, but squished them all together into one menu item. That was a lot of stuff to fit in one menu, so you needed to use submenus to get to things. I received a number of complaints from users who didn’t like the new All menu, bemoaning having to go two levels down in menus to get to the controls they previously got to in one step.

Back to the Future (menu-wise)

Well, I noticed today that in the most recent monthly Outlook 2016 build update (Version 1804, Build 9226.2114), Microsoft has reverted back to almost the exact same design as a year ago. Here’s a recent screenshot of the new look:

 

You can see the only difference from a year ago is the sorting direction arrow on the far right—it now has no label since the arrow is now the control. But otherwise we are back to the old design. And the folder name Inbox is gone, as it was a year ago.

I can’t say I really care one way or the other, but probably prefer the new resumed old look. It gives me quicker access to sorting controls. It removes submenus, which are often a pain to use. And I don’t need an Inbox label. However these flip-flopping changes make documenting Outlook in my books and videos (my self-assigned job) a bit of a moving target. Let’s hope Microsoft sticks with one design for a while!

Michael

Announcing Release of my New Video Course “Outlook Inbox Ninja”

Apr 18, 2018

Today I released my new 45-lesson video set called “Outlook Inbox Ninja.” I’ve been working on this course for over 6 months. It’s a collection of Windows Outlook best practices presented in live and screen capture videos that together enable you to near-empty your Inbox every day.

Now, one might say that the goal of the MYN System is also to do that: empty the Inbox. But in the MYN system the focus was primarily on task management, not as much on Inbox management. While email practices were addressed in MYN, I felt there was more depth needed for those email solutions. And a number of MYN users still had trouble getting their Inbox empty.

So this new Inbox Ninja course provides that depth. For example there are nine video lessons about Outlook rules—quite a deep dive. Similarly, there are six lessons on Outlook Search (and Search Folders). And lot’s of depth on email filing too. Everything here is a deep dive.

Ninja Scan

And the primary really new thing is the focus on something I call the “Ninja Scan,” which is a method of quickly scanning your inbox to empty it briskly, in one quick sitting.

The idea is that the course participant will learn how to, at least once a day, do a complete and focussed scan of the Inbox to keep it well-managed. I provide a step-by-step approach of grouping your mail by several different dimensions to quickly clean and process it. And the course participant will become an expert at setting up Outlook Rules to prefilter much of the mail before that scan.

Good Next Course for MYN Users

So anyone who took my MYN training will find mostly new material here—they will find a nice next-step of training. It will take them to the next level.

Good For New Users Too

If someone has no task system in place, I provide 5 videos on how to do the One Minute To-Do list, and it’s my best video presentation yet on that topic. (But MYN users who don’t need to learn a task system can opt for a reduced price version of the video course that skips those lessons).

In my mind, this is probably the most comprehensive video course I’ve ever created about Windows Outlook. It is complete and thorough and very helpful.

On launch day (today, April 18) I am giving a $30 discount off the course so act now if you think you might be interested.

Michael

Personal To-Dos in Work List?

Mar 13, 2018

A lot of people ask me “should I put personal items along with my work items on my single MYN/1MTD task list, or should I separate them into two lists”?

It Depends, but Yes!

This is an individual decision, but I generally do encourage mixing business and personal items on the same list, to a degree. It’s often the only way to accomplish things. For example, many personal calls can and must be made during the day at work because the office hours of those you are calling stops at 5:00, like a dentist office, a car shop, and so on.

Also, critical personal items that come up on short notice should go into your Critical Now list for today even at work. For example, your babysitter for tonight cancels at noon and you need to find another. Continue reading

OneNote for Shopping Lists (Video)

March 13, 2018

A few years ago I wrote a blog saying OneNote makes a great shopping list tool, and I used the iPhone app as the example. Since then the OneNote iPhone App has changed its design a lot so this is an update to that post using the latest iPhone app in a video. The Android app should work similar (but let me know!).

Reviving your Neglected Outlook To-Do List

Feb 12, 2018

For those of you who have used my 1MTD or MYN task list systems in Outlook, a number of you may have seen the Outlook task list get out of hand as it exploded in size. Perhaps it even got so out of control that you’ve switched back to paper for your daily to-do list. If so, here are some quick steps to get that neglected Outlook task list cleaned up and restarted, all in just a few moments.

By the way, it’s easy for any automated task list to get out of hand. The number-one cause is accumulating too many tasks in the list. Since any computerized list saves everything you write down, it overflows fast, even when most of those tasks have lost relative importance long ago. When the list is huge, you will stop trusting it and give up. At least with paper you can start a new list each day, focusing only on current items, and doing that cleans it. Not so with computerized task lists; if you don’t remove or hide or deprioritize old tasks, your lists will just keep expanding.

The good news is that you can quickly clean the 1MTD and MYN Outlook list too and recover its many advantages. Here’s how.  Continue reading

A Video Update in One-Minute Project Management Course

Jan 27, 2018

We goofed back at the end of September and posted an incorrect video in our One-Minute Project Management Video Course—leaving out 4 minutes in an important video. Well we just fixed that, so if you are using this course and have watched it since then, you might want to watch that video again.

It’s the fourth video and it’s called Using Onenote for Background Project Management. The section on linking project tasks to Outlook got dropped when we updated that video back in September. It’s the segment that starts at about 6:10 minutes in. All fixed now.

Though you might want to know!

Michael