I've given tips on getting organized to a number of my small business clients over the last few weeks, so I now realize that the software you already have can be used to save time and effort. [I'll be using Entourage for my examples, but I'm sure Outlook is very similar. And even if you have different calendar/email/database software, these tips will still apply.] Here are my favorite tips:
1) Put in "To Do" items for the future. You want to create a "Task". Click "NEW", then "Task" in the drop down menu. You can schedule a reminder for any date, and it will pop up to remind you just when you need it most! For example, I use it to remind me to call the contractors if I haven't heard from them by 'x' date. You can also set up recurring reminders. Mine include changing the kitty litter weekly, all the exercise classes I like & my monthly bill-paying session.
2) Put today's "To Do's" on an ever-evolving list. This is a "Note". I used to keep my "To Do" list on a scrap of paper, to which I'd add new things to do, phone numbers, emails, urls, etc. as time went on, as well as crossing off things. It got to be a mess, plus I'd have to copy the updated version onto a new piece of paper every few days. Yes, I got to throw out the old one with all the crossed-off stuff, but then I'd have to keep some of them because of all the phone numbers. Not satisfying -- and a mess. What do you do with all those odd-sized pieces of paper? Where do you keep all the odd notes for the long erm?
Now I keep mine in a Note, entitled "To Do List", which I update and print daily. I 3-hole punch them at the end of the day, and keep them in a notebook, so I can easily find notes later if I need to. Plus they'll make a great record of the year, along with my gratitude and success journals. Click "NEW", then "Note" in the drop down window.
3) Keep a folder for form emails. Remember form lettters? They're great for things you have to say to a zillion people, one at a time, aren't they? In the past, you photocopied a form and just hand wrote names in. Later, they were Word documents, into which you'd insert names and other appropriate info. Well, you can do it with emails, too! I do it for receipts, and welcomes, etc. Here's how:
- Highlight the "Drafts" Folder by putting your cursor on it.
- At the top, click "New", then "Sub-folder" in the drop down menu. Then go to the new folder and title it "ReUse Drafts". This is the folder you'll keep all those form emails in.
- When you get the text of an email you send a lot exactly the way you want it, put it into the body of an email.
- Title the email "Draft of -----".
- Save it -- it will automatically go into a 'Draft' Folder.
- Click on the 'Draft' Folder, so you see the contents.
- Highlight the "Draft of ----" and drag it into the "ReUse Drafts" Folder.
- Then, when you need to thanks someone for their inquiry, click on the ReUse Drafts Folder, highlight the draft you want, and copy the text into a new email, inserting the appropriate info into the new email.