Category Archives: Uncategorized

Using the Due Date Field in Outlook Tasks

August 8, 2018

As you know I have written 7 books on task management and email management. In my task management materials, I talk a lot about how to get tasks done. One typical way older to-do list systems try to do that is to focus obsessively on setting due dates on all tasks. But anyone who has studied my materials know I don’t believe in that. That’s because doing that leads to a lot of fake deadlines, and then a Cry Wolf phenomenon takes place where you just start ignoring those fake ones, and then ignore all deadlines, and important ones get dropped.

Instead, I say set a due date only when there is a true hard deadline. That way you will honor your deadlines. Then, in my MYN system, I say set a start date on ALL tasks, that way you indicate when you want to do the task (whether due soon or not) and it gives you greater control. And in my simpler 1MTD system, we don’t use start dates, rather, we simply set the priority to indicate urgency.

How to Set a Due Date

But how do you set a due date? Usually I say simply type it into the text subject line of the task like this: “DUE: Friday, Turn in status report.” That works well.

Now, if you are using Outlook for tasks, you may know there is a Due Date field in the task form. But for MYN I recommend you avoid it. That’s because it has an unfortunate hard linkage to the start date, one that makes the Due Date field almost unusable. So just use the subject line text method as above.

But in the simpler 1MTD system, since we don’t use the start date, using Outlook’s Due Date field can make sense because there is no conflict. It gives you the advantage of turning the task red when overdue and enabling you to set pop-up reminders. The problem is it’s a bit complicated to use the Due Date field in the To-Do Bar of Outlook, even for the simple 1MTD system. It takes a bit of study.

Where to Learn How to Use the Windows Outlook Due Date Field

The good news is I give complete instructions on how to use the Outlook Due Date field in 1MTD in two places. One is video 4.7 in the full version of my Windows Outlook Inbox Ninja video course. The second is in video 7 of my new Windows Outlook One Minute To-Do List video course. So study one of those videos (they are nearly identical) and consider using the Due Date field in Windows Outlook with 1MTD.

Michael

I Added a Free Video to the Outlook Inbox Ninja Course: Specify Sending Time

July 26, 2018

I’ve added a free video to the Outlook Inbox Ninja Course. It’s Video number 8.1 and it shows you how to specify when an email will be sent out.

Doing this can be useful for various reasons. You might want someone to see your email at just a certain time. I use it occasionally to slow down an email conversation. What I mean by that is sometimes I read an email and immediately write my reply, and then it occurs to me that I don’t want this topic to ricochet back and forth all day long, so I set the send time for near the end of the day. There are other uses.

So go to the Outlook Inbox Ninja Course page and scroll down to video 8.1 and take a look. Again, it’s free for anyone to watch. And by the way, I’ve recently marked a number of other videos in that set as being free, too, so take a look.

Michael

Finding Your Passion?

July 23, 2018

I just read an article based on a new study. The gist of the article is that while finding your passion is what most hope to do to be successful, success really comes from developing various skills, even ones you are not passionate about. The study was done with undergraduate college students.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2018/07/23/find-your-passion-thats-bad-advice-scientists-say/?utm_term=.affc0702e94c

In some ways that seems obvious, right? You need a range of skills to see what mix ends up working for you.

But their main point was that those who ONLY focus on what they are passionate about end up dropping it if/when the going gets tough in that area. As if to say that the whole passion search is a waste of time.

But I disagree, and I feel that the study should not detract from the importance of following a passion. Rather, really the study simply confirms what most of us know: even when doing work you love, you have to work at it. It’s never just handed to you easy as pie. And it makes sense to get good at a range of skills, if for nothing more than having a fallback should your passionate industry fall flat.

Anyway, I remain passionate about encouraging people to find their passionate work. And I remain passionate about advising those same to plan on some hard or challenging work to get there!

Michael

Microsoft Surface 3 Tablet Replacement Arrives

July 11, 2018

My use of tablets has almost disappeared. And coincidentally, tablet sales are way down and still dropping. I suppose everyone has their reasons for losing interest in them. Mine was that my business changed and I almost never go to in-person meetings anymore—I used to use Windows tablets to ink my notes in such meetings, and not for much more. But such tablets are still a great way to take a full desktop copy of Outlook with you wherever you go, so I am tempted to start using them again.

Before I moved away from tablets, I was using a Surface 3 for a few years, and liked it. It was Microsoft’s only iPad competitor in terms of size and weight, so when a year ago Microsoft discontinued the Surface 3, I was puzzled, did Microsoft really want to abandon that market?

With a recent announcement, the answer is apparently NO: Microsoft wants to stay in the iPad-size tablet market. Yesterday Microsoft announced the Surface Go, its replacement to the Surface 3. It’s a $399, 10-inch, 1.15 pound touch-screen tablet (which puts it solidly in the small iPad form factor). But it has features much like the higher-end (and heavier) Surface Pro. It’s based on the Intel Pentium Gold processor, so it has much more power than the previous Atom-based Surface 3 tablet.

Here’s a good article about the Surface Go from one of my favorite Microsoft Industry columnists, Mary Jo Foley:  https://www.zdnet.com/article/microsoft-takes-aim-at-schools-consumers-and-businesses-with-surface-go-tablets-starting-at-399/

And another article comparing the Surface Go to Apple’s iPad:  https://www.zdnet.com/article/can-microsofts-surface-go-unseat-apples-ipad/

Aug 2 Updates:

New PC World review just came out: https://www.pcworld.com/article/3293414/microsoft-surface/microsoft-surface-go-review.html

And one from ZDNET: https://www.zdnet.com/article/surface-go-first-look-small-light-and-the-best-cheap-pc-ever/

Michael

The 4 ways to Archive your Outlook E-mail

July 10, 2018

At some point you may need to archive your Outlook email. Here are the four main ways you can archive your email using Outlook. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, and not all are available to all people or all versions. They are: 1) the new Archive button; 2) using local storage; 3) using Exchange’s Archive Mailbox; and 4) saving mail in other formats. Let’s go over each of these.

#1 Use the new Archive Button in the latest versions of Outlook, Windows, Mac, Online. This is not true archiving because it does not make room on your server, but it gets the mail out of your Inbox, which is good. I write about the Archive Button here.

#2 Use local storage in Outlook in Windows and Mac. Local storage in Outlook Mac means using it’s On My Computer folders. In Windows Outlook that means creating a PST file group (the latter I show how to do in Lesson 7.2 of the Outlook Inbox Ninja course). These methods display the local-storage folders right in Outlook, which is good. This is true archiving—it does remove mail from your server and make room there. And you are only limited by hard drive space. But you will then need ways to back up those local files to avoid losing your old mail if your hard drive crashes. And you can’t get at the mail from mobile devices. In Windows Outlook you can automate PST use with AutoArchive, (which I show how to do in Lesson 7.3 of the Outlook Inbox Ninja course). Note many companies forbid their employees from using local storage for email due to email discovery policies. For example, the PST file creation process might be turned off in Outlook in your company.

#3 Use an Archive Mailbox (also called In-Place Archive) in Exchange. Windows and Mac. Few companies have adopted this yet, but it’s a way to remove mail from your main Exchange Server account, thus making more room there—so it is true archiving. It stores the old mail on slower and less expensive disk drives on the Exchange Server (so there are storage limits). Companies like this because they have control over your old retained mail. And it’s convenient to you because it will work from any computer, perhaps even mobile devices. You should ask your IT department if this is available to you. More info here.

#4 Saving mail in other formats (and then deleting it from your server). This is my least-recommended method as it’s slow to do and requires extra work. And it does not display the mail in Outlook. Here’s how to do this: in Windows Outlook if you fully open an email in a new window, if you then choose File, Save As… you can choose the .msg file format and save the message as an individual file on your hard drive. Then delete the original. You must do this one message at a time, so it’s really slow. Another way is to use OneNote’s email import function, but it’s similarly slow. A much faster method is to save entire Outlook folders in one step using the Adobe Acrobat application. However, this requires you own the full Adobe Acrobat application (not Adobe Acrobat Reader, nor Adobe Reader). This is a good solution if your company blocks PSTs and if they will allow you to install the Acrobat application. More on using OneNote or Acrobat for archiving here.

Michael

Video: Controlling Search Return Counts in Windows Outlook

July 3, 2018

Have you ever noticed that when you type into the search box in Outlook, it seems like Outlook returns only a small set of mail—even when you know there is a lot more mail meeting the search? Notice how you therefore sometimes can’t find the specific e-mail you are looking for?

This is something newer versions of Outlook and Exchange Server do to speed up search results (and to take a load off the server). But what if you want to see more—or all—of your search results to find the mail you want? Can you do that?

It Depends

Well, it depends on Outlook settings you make and which Exchange Server you are using.

In this new video I show you how to adjust those settings in Windows Outlook. I also show how the newest versions of Exchange Server will, unfortunately, still prevent you from seeing all search returns.

Free Video

By the way, this new video is a complementary addition to the Outlook Inbox Ninja course. So just go to this Ninja Course link below and scroll down to Video 3.7—it will be playable whether you own the Ninja course or not.

Go here and scroll down to Video 3.7

Michael

Should you Upgrade to the Latest 8th-Gen PCs?

June 27, 2018

We sometimes get jaded by the new Intel processor releases because they seem so incremental—lots of hoopla about small performance increases.

Well, according to PC World, the jump from 7th-Gen to 8th-Gen really is worth it.

Read why here:

https://www.pcworld.com/article/3270625/laptop-computers/intel-8th-gen-core-i7-vs-7th-gen-core-i7-cpus-should-you-upgrade.html

Off-Topic: How to Load PDFs into Kindle

June 15, 2018

This is completely off my usual topic list, but as you will see it is still useful for my clients: good instructions for how to load PDFs into Kindle.

This is important to me because my company sells a PDF version of my Outlook book, and some buyers may want to load that PDF into Kindle.

Rather than duplicate all the steps, here is the best article I have found, and it’s up-to-date: June-13-2018 PC World Article Loading PDFs to Kindle.

Michael

Using OneDrive to “Attach” Pictures and Files to Mail Messages

May 29, 2018

I know a lot of us use smartphones to take pictures, and those are easy to text or email directly from our smartphone. But I also like to take higher-res photos with a “real” camera and those are usually very large files. How do you share those? And what about other documents on your computer ? Should you just attach them to an email message in Outlook?

Using OneDrive Links

These days when I send a hi-res photo I took with my “real” camera to share with my family, I  almost always send a OneDrive link rather than attaching the image file itself. My hi-res photos are so big that attaching even just a few of them as files to emails does not make sense—my email server or my recipient’s server will reject them due to size. I want to give access to full-resolution images—so a link is perfect. And I can link 10, 20, 30 images all at once with one link in one email and the links create slideshow like views of the images.

There are two ways to create and send OneDrive links in Outlook, and they work with all types of files, not just photos.

Storing Files on OneDrive

First, nearly ALL my photos and work documents get stored within a multi-layered OneDrive directory on my computer (see left side of image below) and are auto-mirrored to the OneDrive servers shortly after I create the file. It’s my daily backup solution. Setting that up is the first step, of course, and if you are not doing that now, how to set up OneDrive is described here.

Use File Explorer

After a photo session I put the camera storage chip in my computer and, using Windows File Explorer (one way to open File Explorer is to hold down the Windows Key and type E), I drag-copy all the new image files to the Pictures folder in my OneDrive directory (and I then empty and eject the camera chip from my computer). I’ve got years worth of photos on my hard drive and mirrored on OneDrive.

Then, when I want to share some pictures that are on my computer and mirrored to OneDrive I do this: with the Pictures folder open and displayed in File Explorer on my computer (see below, in Windows 10), I simply select one or more images on the right using the checkboxes.

 

Then I right-click any one of the selected items and choose Share a OneDrive Link from the context menu.

 

Doing that automatically creates a link to the selected files, and copies the new link to the clipboard. Then I paste that link (I use the CTRL-V keyboard shortcut) into the text of my email message and send it.

For example, below is a link to the images above taken outside my front door where I live near Santa Fe, New Mexico; feel free to click it and check out the images (if it asks you to log in just click Cancel, it will still show you the photos).

https://1drv.ms/f/s!AhuwE9tjdvhqjYlmH9-jarQmmqyf6A

Any recipient who opens the mail and clicks that link gets a OneDrive web view like you just did. They can view the images on their screen, or even download them. And they can start a slide show if multiple images were linked. (Again, you can see all that if you click the link above). This works even if the recipients don’t have a OneDrive account, so I can send it to anyone. This has replaced all my previous photo sharing apps or websites, by the way.

For Office Docs

That’s one way to do it. Another way to do this with Office 365 documents (Word, Excel, Powerpoint) is to use menus that are in the Office 365 document itself. For example, if you are in Word and want to send the file that’s open to someone, do the following (this assumes you are storing your Office docs somewhere in your local OneDrive-linked directory):

If you look in the top right of all Office 365 applications you will find a Share button. Click that and in the pane that opens at the right look at the very bottom and click the Get a Sharing Link. Then you have two choices: you can choose Create an Edit Link, which allows recipients to edit your document on your OneDrive storage (good for team collaboration when creating a team document). Or choose Create a View-Only Link, which allows recipients just to view (or download) your document. Then click Copy. Then paste that link into the text of an email message, as I described above.

Sending OneDrive links is easy and, if you are a OneDrive user, it’s the best way to share large files or a large collection of files. It’s especially good if you are using a “real” camera and constantly create large image files you want to share.

Michael

 

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