Archive for the ‘Outlook’ Category

Where to Find the Hidden Timer in Outlook (Video)


I want to share with you a little-known feature in Outlook that you might not be aware of: it’s a task timer!

It’s a little out of the way so I’m going to show you where to find it.

  1. First, go down to your Outlook task bar in the lower left and click on those three little dots.
  2. This brings up some expanded navigation options. Click on “Folders.”
  3. You’ll see there are now some additional folders along the left side navigation list. From there, click on “Journal.”
  4. This brings up the Journal timeline. This is where your journal entries are saved and appear.
  5. When you’re ready to use the timer, click on “Journal Entry” there in the top left. This is where you find the hidden task timer!
  6. Now, fill in the details of your task or activity. First, select an entry type. I tend to use “Task,” but you have several options to choose from.
  7. Then give your entry a good description.
  8. You’ll see that the date and start time are already filled in for you. There’s a big note section below that where you can type anything you like. There’s also a company field where you might want to type in a client name (or, alternatively, you can start your description with the client name like I prefer; either way, you can play around and do whatever works best for you).
  9. Once you’re ready to begin whatever it is you want to track the time on, simply click “Start Timer” and away you go.
  10. When you wish to end recording, click on “Save & Close.” This will stop the timer and save the entry to the Journal timeline.
  11. To check the recorded minutes, go the timeline and click on the entry to open it. The total minutes recorded appear in the “Duration” field.

And that’s it, easy peasy!

A couple quick thoughts on task timing…

If you’ve followed me long, you know that I’m an advocate for ditching the timesheet, stopping the clock-watching and task-timing, and selling value-based solutions instead of hours.

So, in sharing the Outlook timer with you, I’m not suggesting you start tracking all your time and tasks for clients.

That just creates bigger administrative headaches, makes your business and billing more complicated and time-consuming, and limits your earning potential on top of everything.

However, there are certain instances when timing things is useful.

Sometimes, for your own internal use and frame of reference, you want to get an idea of how long certain common tasks or activities take you on average.

You also might want to track time when you are doing work that is separate from and not included in a client’s support plan.

For example, I work with attorneys and charge them a flat monthly fee for a body of administrative support. However, there are limitations to that support, one of which is litigation.

One of the activities that is sometimes (not always) needed in litigation is transcription.

A lot of times, an opposing party will provide pleadings in an uneditable format that a client must respond to.

If we can’t get them to send us an editable version (like Word) and OCR conversion won’t work or would be too time and labor intensive to clean up (quite often it’s easier and takes less time to simply retype something from scratch), that’s when transcription is needed.

However, transcription times can vary greatly, obviously. So, for work of that nature, that is outside the normal scope of a client’s regular monthly support plan, I use the Outlook Journal and timer to keep track of these additional activities so I can bill for them at the next invoicing.

So, I’m curious… did you know about the timer in Outlook? If not, do you think it will come in handy now for you? Let me know in the comments!

How to Fix It: Outlook Email Signature Image Won’t Display

Has this ever happened to you?

You set up an email signature in Outlook that includes an image.

Everything is working fine. Then one day you notice your image is no longer appearing. Instead, all you see is that familiar red “x” where the image is supposed to be.

You have images enabled so that’s not the problem. And you checked with your email recipients and they all see your signature image at their end just fine. What gives?!

This used to drive me nuts and I finally found the culprit!

It has to do with the Outlook Temporary folder and and here’s how to fix it if you’re on Outlook 2003/Microsoft XP (that’s the only place I’ve ever had this problem):

  1. Close Outlook
  2. On your computer, click on START — RUN|
  3. Type REGEDIT in the Run box that appears.|
  4. The Registry Editor will appear with a list of files. Double-click on the OutlookSecureTempFolder.|
  5. An Edit String box will appear. Select and copy the link that appears in the Value Data field.|
  6. Open Windows Explore and paste in the link. This will take you to your Outlook Temporary folder. Select all the files in this folder and delete.|
  7. Now, open Outlook and your signature image will “magically” be displayed again!

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How to Select All in Microsoft Outlook 2010

I’m really not a fan of the 2010 Microsoft product “improvements.”

There are a few significant irritations I have, one of which it that whole ribbon thing.

It was a pointless reinvention that didn’t improve anything.

What used to be simple, straightforward and all in one place that you could easily use out-of-the-box, now is needlessly convoluted and requires more time and effort to get set up. What you could get to in one, possibly two, quick clicks, has now become a Rubik’s cube of a maze with all kinds of twists and turns and clicks needed to do what you want.

It’s a pain in the ass, if you ask me.

Anyhoo, when I got a new laptop, I was forced more or less to install/upgrade to the 2010 Office Suite.

One of the things that would drive me crazy was that I couldn’t find any of my usual, frequently-used commands anymore, one of which was “Select All” (formerly under the Edit drop-down list).

And before you tell me about CTRL + A, let me just say… um, duh.

However, there are times when I don’t have a keyboard in front of me—like when I’m laying in bed and checking messages on the big screen tv with only my mouse.

After pulling my hair out for a few months, I finally figured out where Microsoft had hidden it.

If this has been driving you, too, batty, here are the steps to add it back into your command options:

  1. In the top left of Outlook is the Quick Access Toolbar. Select the little arrow icon to “Customize Quick Access Toolbar.”
  2. Click on “More Commands” in the drop-down menu.
  3. From the list that appears, select “Commands Not in the Ribbon.”
  4. Scroll down until you find “Select All,” highlight it and click “Add.”
  5. Click “Okay.”
  6. You will now see a new option up in your Quick Access Toolbar to “Select All.”

Now, whenever you need to do a select all (such as selecting all the spam messages that accumulate in your email inbox so you can move them over to the junk mail folder in one fell swoop), just click on that “Select All” command button.

Hope this helps restore some mental health for someone!

Who Are You?

You would not believe the amount of email I get from colleagues and others (or maybe you would).

As I was cleaning out my inbox, I realized that the colleagues whose email accounts clearly identified who they are, were the folks who generally got my attention first.

Alternatively, it’s often the folks who haven’t configured their email identification clearly or personally whose messages get deleted or end up in the spam/junk mail folders most frequently.

Are you setting up your email accounts in a way that clearly identifies who you are?

I would also make the case that identifying yourself as a person first and business second is the way to go in this day and age of social networking and personal connection.

I still remember with chagrin the uproar my own email address caused on a listserv one time.

I was new to the list and there were only one or two people I already knew.

Folks on the list were very suspicious of new members and there was a bit of an uproar over my email address.

At first I had no idea what on earth they were talking about. I’d had my email address for years and years. It wasn’t something I ever thought about and not something that anyone had ever had a problem with before.

But then it was pointed out to me what all the furor was about — I was using my business name instead of my personal name. So when my emails showed up, it said “The Relief” instead of “Danielle Keister.”

The list was used to people using their personal name in their email account rather than a business name. They didn’t like it when someone used a business name rather then their personal name. To them it felt impersonal and like they were being instantly marketed to by sheer virtue of the name on the account.

So maybe you have set your email address long ago, too, and not given it a second thought since then. Perhaps now is a good time to do a little email housekeeping.

Remember, people do business with people. They connect with people, not anonymous, impersonal entities.

If you want to be more personable in your online networking, set your email address up so it shows your personal name (first and last) rather than your business name.

I willing to bet you’ll make way more friends that way. :)

Creating a Communication Plan

Excellent communication (not good or okay, but GREAT) is vitally important in your business relationships, even more so when your mode of doing business is entirely virtual.

How well you communicate with prospects and clients directly impacts the trust and confidence you instill in them.

One aspect of beyond-excellent communication is consistently following through in your responses to emails and voicemails.

To be clear, I’m not talking about the occasional message or response that falls through the cracks; that happens to the best of us.

What I’m talking about is establishing consciously-devised standards and policies for handling communication your business.

This includes being in the habit of making sure those who correspond with you by email know that their message was received.

There is nothing more frustrating than sending someone a message and hearing nothing but crickets in response.

If you’ve ever been on the receiving end, you know what I’m talking about.

You’re left wondering whether the recipient is taking whatever action might have been required, or if they even got the message at all.

This kind of poor communication is not only an instant trust-killer, it creates extra work for the folks trying to correspond and work with you.

It doesn’t put you in a good light and definitely doesn’t engender any confidence in your professional abilities.

Don’t do that to your clients and customers — or yourself, for that matter.

Here’s a quick checklist to improve your customer communications (and earn greater trust from your clients) today:

  1. Establish a timeliness standard in your business. Be disciplined about sticking with it. If you have a 24-48 hour turnaround policy, make sure you demonstrate a pattern of consistently responding to all messages within that timeframe.
  2. Inform clients and customers upfront. Include your communication policies in your new client welcome kits. Talk about it in your new client orientation meetings. If you are closed on weekends or holidays or any other particular days of the week, let clients and site visitors know that. Let them know exactly how communication is handled in your business, during what hours, and what the response turnaround policy is. When clients know how things work and what to expect ahead of time, they don’t worry and wonder so much in the meantime. It helps them relax and manages expectations.
  3. Create a management plan. Devise a system for keeping track of messages and following-up efficiently. Email programs and plugin these days have an extensive array of customizable tools and settings for organizing and prioritizing your inbox. Make good use of them.
  4. Respond to every message. Even if you can’t do anything right away, you should still acknowledge receipt of the message. A simple “Got it!” or “Thank you. I’ll let you know as soon as I take care of that” makes all the difference in the world to the person at the other end.

© Copyright by Danielle Keister for the Administrative Consultants Association. You are granted permission to republish this article only if used without alteration in its entirety with this copyright notice, title, article content, resource, and links left intact.