From Melissa MacBeth’s post in the Outlook team blog:
On the Outlook team, we are frequently asked: “what is the ‘right way’ to use Outlook?” Sure enough, there is no “right way” to work in Outlook—but, as the product team, we did design it with certain best practices in mind. Specifically, there are some best practices that make you more efficient at getting your job done while using Outlook.
Basic principles of good time management
- Reduce the number of places you read e-mail – Filter all of the messages you need to read into one place — your Inbox — using a series of rules.
- Let some e-mail pass by – Use rules to send e-mail you need to read to your Inbox and then let the rest flow into distribution list folders, untouched. You don’t need to read every message sent to you. Only the important ones should go to your Inbox. Remaining messages can be useful to keep — in case you get looped in on an issue, for example.
- Reduce the number of places where you manually file messages – Reduce the mental tax of filing by relying on search to locate messages.
- Process your e-mail using the 4 Ds – When reading a message, decide whether to:
- Delete it.
- Do it (respond or file for reference).
- Delegate (forward) it.
- Defer it (using categories and flags) for a second review in your task list.
- Reduce your to-do list to one list – Use a single to-do list and calendar to manage what you need to do.
- Work in batches – Use categories to help you group similar tasks together.
- Use good judgment when sending e-mail – Follow the dos and don’ts of writing great e-mail. Review your time and tasks regularly.
Even if you don’t subscribe to all of the best practices described here, following just a few will improve your experience with Outlook 2007.