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Using Outlook to Manage Your Time While Working from Home

With the massive shift to working remotely , it can be tricky to separate when your work day begins and when it ends, making it increasingly challenging to stay organized and on top of what matters while trying to also balance your personal commitments. Outlook can be used as your personal organizer, to help you balance that blurring line.

Take control of your (whole) day

Managing your commitments along-side those of your friends, family, and colleagues is a little easier when you can see their availability next to yours.  Whether it’s your manager’s, a co-worker’s, or your kid’s calendars, it’s easy to add or share calendars in Outlook so you can see it all together.

Image 1 - See your schedule next to or combined with the calendar from someone in your organization


Image 2 - Add your colleague’s calendar from your organization’s directory
You can also share your schedule with someone that is not in your organization or they can share their personal calendar with you.
This is very useful if you want someone in your family to have access to your work schedule so they know when you are available or if you want to create events from your Outlook calendar in that person’s calendar, like adding your kid’s online classes to your partner’s calendar. You are in control of the amount of information you share about the events on your calendar.
Image 3 - Share and manage permissions for your calendar
Now you probably have personal commitments that happen during typical work hours and you might need to stay on top of work items while not at your home desk. To aid you in these situations, Outlook allows you to keep your important information in one place in a helpful way for you to organize all your commitments and communications and stay in control of the time you do have.
With all your personal, work, and school accounts together in one app, you have easy access to your emails, contacts, files, and calendars at your fingertips so you can choose how you manage and view your day almost anywhere you are.
Image 4 - Manage your commitments across all your accounts in one place
It’s understandable that it’s a priority for you to dedicate time for yourself and to your friends and family, but that can be difficult especially when you are constantly right next to the digital tools that help you stay connected – which has been proven to cause distractions.
You can manage these said distractions by scheduling focus and quite times by setting your working hours and silence notifications when you need to, and you can do this for both your personal communications and your work commitments.  Control the time when you don’t want to be disturbed with notifications of new emails and also let your colleagues know when you are available for meetings in Outlook by setting your hours in “Events and invitations”.

Stay on top of what matters

On top of everything you are already doing, you also need to juggle working from home with all-day parenting and learning to be a part-time teacher, so there’s a lot you need to stay on top of.

Managing your tasks and to do lists can be a little tricky, but now that Microsoft To Do and Outlook are connected, it’s a little easier. Here’s a few ways how these connected experiences help you stay organized.

Create your shopping list in Outlook and manage it there or in the To Do app.  You can share it with someone else and even assign them a task to lighten your load.

Tasks in OWA 2
Turn an email into a task or an event by dragging and dropping it into My Day or flagging it in your email message list. In To Do, you can find a “Flagged emails” list among your tasks to help you prioritize and check things off.
Combined-Drag-and-Drop (1)
You can also drop tasks from My Day into your calendar to create events which can help you plan and carve out the time to complete them.
Task to cal
Many of the things you need to stay on top of come to your email, and there’s a way to catch up with what’s new in your inbox when you’re busy doing other things. Play my Emails in Outlook mobile lets you keep your hands free while you listen to and respond to new email messages. This way you can get other things done such as cleaning the dishes, walking the dog, exercising, or other activities while staying connected to what matters and on top of changes to your day.

But sometimes it’s just better to plan to respond to certain emails at a later time, or read a document for a specific meeting, or take the time for a more detailed response to the email message your manager sent you. To avoid losing track of that kind of message, you can Snooze it and schedule it for when you have more time.

Snoozing an email will remove it from your inbox (but you can still search for it) until the time you schedule it to come back to the top of your inbox as an unread email with a new “received” timestamp and an icon indicating that it was snoozed.

Image 10 - Snooze in Outlook on the web or customize swipe action in Outlook on your phone to snooze messages
Its understandable that some meetings require preparation so having quick access to related emails and documents can help you get ready but taking time to search for what you need may take you away from more important things, with Meeting Insights Outlook gathers the information you might need for your meetings and brings it together for you in the meeting event on your calendar, in My Day, or in the meeting reminder.No need to spend time looking for what you need.
Image 11 Find Meeting Insights when you scroll down on the meeting event in your calendar

Stay connected

Whether it’s at work or with your favorite people, staying in touch is important. Get your team on an informal video call or organize a video get-together with your friends. You can use Microsoft Teams, or most 3rd party providers.

Coming soon Microsoft will be making online meetings even easier. When you create a meeting event with someone, Outlook will automatically make it an online meeting. No more asking to add a Teams meeting after the invite was sent.

Image 12 Easily add online meeting to any event or adjust settings so they’re added by default
Or you can manually create an online meeting using Teams, Skype, or any supported audio and video provider. When you use your work account and have Teams or Skype, you can easily add an online meeting and Outlook can even suggest a time when everyone is free.
Image 13 In your work account you can easily add a Teams meeting
We all have that person or persons within the organization that you can’t miss an email from. Microsoft has made it to address this concern. You can create rules to deal with those important people in Outlook, or you can add them as favorites. It’s a simple way to always have quick access to their messages and set your preferences so that you get email notifications only from your favorites. Just add someone as a favorite from the People card in Outlook or by clicking on “Add favorite”.
Image 15 Add someone as a favorite by clicking the star in the People card
Most of us receive and send a lot of  email messages in a day. Some are important, some are meant as information only, and in some we are asked or ask someone to do something. A great way to get someone’s attention in an email message is to tag them with @theirname, that way they will quickly know that there is an action item for them. You can also save time and stay connected to what’s important by filtering your inbox for messages where someone @you to get a preview of which messages require your attention.
Image 16 Get someone’s attention with theirname
If you want to learn about additional capabilities in Outlook, please check out the short instructional videos for Outlook for iOS and Android and Outlook on the web or find more training tools here.

Microsoft is committed to continue to explore additional opportunities to help you further manage your time, but in the meantime, they would love to hear from you. Give them your feedback in our UserVoice channel and let them know how we can help you even more.

By: Microsoft

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