Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Organize Your Outlook

FYI. this is going to be a pretty tepid post (read: kind of boring unless or even if you use outlook), but i think it's been pretty key for me to being efficient. dont worry will have some more outrageously offensive and obscene shit ltr.

I think one of the key things to recapturing my time and generally being more efficient is becoming familiar with some of the basic tech i use daily, like outlook, and taking advantage of the little thngs that -here's the key- a lot of ppl dont know it can do.  Just think of what ideally you'd like to do, and then figure out if there is a way to do it - google or the microsoft help function are useful tools. For example, the first time i had to send something out, i didn't want it to go out right away for some reason or another, and i didn't want to just save a draft and have to remember to do it later, but then i figured out from just fiddling around that you could delay your messages being sent (ive mentioned this before i thnk).  So here are a few things i do that i've found really helpful in staying organized, efficient and generally better at controlling my time:
  • Delayed sending: like i said, you can set this up through your message options. Depending on your outlook version, you can just click on the options tab and there should be a button for it. The applications are endless and i've alluded to a few previously, e.g., making sure you don't elicit a response before you actually want to elicit one, getting people's attention at the right time, making people think you're 'working' at times when you are not, e-mail 'bombing' someone for shits n giggles

  • Redirect replies: usually i don't need this, but there's also an option to direct a reply to someone else. pretty helpful if you ever want to send something out right before vacation or are just covering for someone. great way basically to automatically delegate to another.

  • Calendar: delegate this completely to your secretary or assistant - you can give them access to your outlook calendar and have them add things for you or adjust items.  everytime u want to remember to do something, bc u carry around ur bb all the time anyway u loser, its like ur reminder box. just call or email ur assistant and have them put it in. add relevant details like con call #'s, attachments, etc. so you don't have to dig those out again. and for specific meetings or calls, invite participants so they know about it too. i wd also strongly suggest knowing how to do all these things urself. its so surprising how many seniors dont know a lot of basic things and rely completely on secretaries or other people to do this stuff/figure it out. like i've said before, it doesn't always make sense to delegate to someone something you can do much more efficiently. a calendar a secretary can do just fine. but if u cant wait to do something, like set up a conference call or set up a meeting invite for a bunch of people, u dont want to look like an idiot, and its really easy. there's a fucking "invite attendees" button on the damn thing. (i'd also suggest you turn off the option that asks people to accept if you have a shit load of peopel to invite). so in addition to getting things done fast, if u can do stuff urself and faster sometimes, ull 'impress' ppl too...how silly

  • Contacts: ever have to send an email to someone but don't have their email in your blackberry and you're not at your desk so can't sort through your archived mail to find the address? make sure you regularly add all people you may need to send emails to to your contacts in outlook, which will sync it to your bb, so you can access it anywhere. Your secretary is great for this too.
  • Folders: this is so basic, but so many ppl don't do this til it's too late....i saw a first-year once, had one folder for each project. and then the inbox. if u get like 300 emails a day when a deal is hot, how the fuck r u gonna find shit. u can sort by name, search whatever but if u have thousands of emails, its a bit unwieldly.  if u r doing cap mkts, i usu have folders for closing, opinions, comfort, pa, dd, OM, (don/indenture), etc.  for ma deals, varies, but usually something for dd, each txn doc, disclosure schedules, etc.

  • Rules: when i'm on deals with a group email (like big cap mkts deals) that gets a lot of email traffic, i'll set up rules so that when emails come in, they are automatically assigned a category name and color, and are sorted if desired into a particular folder. There are a lot of possibilities with the rules, so you can probably do a lot of different things. generally i like to have cap mkts emails (90% of which i try to ignore) (and any group deal emails too actually) land in my inbox, with a copy sent to the parent root folder ans assigned a category.  So if the project name is "monkey", then when i get a project monkey email, it will come in, and a copy will go to the Monkey folder, and i'll keep one in my inbox. If i can tell it's not related to me or something i don't really need to read or care to read (or generally just something that doesn't need my attention right away) i delete the copy in my inbox, but have automatically retained the copy in the root folder so i can look at it if i need to. If it is relevant to me, but I don't want to deal with it now, i'll either leave it in there, or add it to my list and sort it into the appropriate Monkey subfolder (e.g., "opinions"). Keeps my inbox so light n airy i feel like i'm doing whipits every time a whack a mole a fucktarded email.

  • Colors: you can have emails with certain criteria show up in a different color. I have emails that come in that are only directed to me come up in blue - so it's an automatic "flag" item so i know which emails are probably expecting a response from me and those that may not. it's an auto-prioritizer. Tools -> Organize -> using colors.  Play around with the other options too. Here's an example of what mine looks like (note this is my whole inbox - bc of auto-sorting, clearance of spam items, i have a relatively clean list of items that i need to address):

  • Drafts: saving drafts are quite helpful when you know you have to send something out at some point, but you don't know when. You can write up the email, attach whatever docs, and then save it in your drafts folder and it's ready to go. What many don't know is that you can also attach these drafts to emails, and then the recipient can ALSO send out that email as if it were from them. That way, if anyone ever asks you to draft an email, or if you ask someone to draft an email for you, you basically delegate the entire task to them.  Once you receive the draft email as an attachment, you need to drag it to your drafts folder and then open it from there before it's sendable.

  • Blacklining: sometimes i want to make some comments directly in an email in text rather than send a huge document, especially if there's only a few lines of text that are relevant. rather than run a whole blackline or write up email comments that are imprecise, you can directly create a 'blackline' in outlook by directly formatting the text. i.e., you can change the font color to blue and underline text you want to indicate that should be added, and make text red and strikethrough for text you want deleted. hot keys expedite the process greatly - ctrl + u for underline, and ctrl + d to access the formatting pop-up (you can do strikethrough, double-strike through, small caps...emboss...)

  • Html/plain text: ever get an email where you can't do any bullets, formatting etc? you just need to switch to html editing bc it's in plain text mode. Under the options tab again. seems simple but i know a lot of people that just don't get why they can't paste the damn table in the fucking email...
  • Attachments: did u kno u can attach things but just dragging them into a message? helpful when u already have an email and just wanna attach some docs just drag em in.  Also, lez say u gotta send out 8 attachments and u want em in a specific order, when u attach them all at once through the message option, theyll probably come out in some random order. but, if u redrag the files into the message, it recopies the attachment at the end of the list, so u can reorgzniate it like that. or, someitmes ill just add em to a blacnk message, and then drag em into my actual message in the desired order. rather than attaching one at a time which is lame.

  • Hot keys: sometimes just make things faster - ctrl + n for new message/contact/event, alt + r for reply, alt + l  for reply all, alt + w for forward, alt + s for send/save, alt + F4 to quit. look up ur most commonly used ones. this probably saves me about an hour a year and a worse case of carpal tunnel syndrome (from avoiding the mouse). Hot keys in other programs are good too (like "c" for compose a message on ur blackberry, "t" to go tot he top, "b" to the bottom, and a bunch in word - like if u ever wanted to insert an auto x-ref to a section but with the word "Section"? simple, just - alt + i, n, r, select section, click ok, right-click on reference, t, "\t", right-click, u...but i can talk about these later or u can figure it out urself). sersiously these save time. pdf, word, outlook. a lot of senirso have seen me work on docs and go thr u emails etc and they r fucking blown away by how fast i can do this sht, befor they even have a chance to see whats on screen i know wats gonna come up and its out/done whatever. flabfuckingtastic.

  • Alerts: i have the alerts come up for new msgs, so i can whack a mole, as u kno
  • Getting someone's attention: ever have to write an email to a partner who just doesn't fucking respond cuz they live on a golf course and have eight hundred million thousand emails everytime they look at their bb? best trick i've foudn is write their name (sometimes repeatedly) in the subject line - and then simply summarize the entire message in one line at the top cuz theyll see that in the preview. works like a charm.
  • Style: my outlook is all black it's badass. like shaft. but not as badass. u can change the stetings if u click on the little window icon and then go to the stling option. they have three optinos i think - blue, olive green and black. why the fuck they picked those three colors i have no idea. this may depend on what version of outlook u have tho.
ok thas it for now. cheerio and gluck

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