How many times do you send an e-mail requesting that a colleague take care of something and a week or so later you remember and ponder… Did they reply? Did I forget to follow up? Now where is that e-mail?
Don’t beat yourself up! It’s easy to do – especially if you do not use Outlook in the most efficient manner. It is very easy to make sure you do not forget what you have requested, make sure that your e-mail request is not hanging in the person’s e-mail purgatory somewhere and most importantly, that you do not let the requests YOU have received go without action or some sort of response.
Let me introduce you to Flagging. Yes, you can very easily flag an e-mail in your Inbox for follow-up or some other action.
Suppose the lead attorney on a case has sent you an e-mail asking you to do a search for liens and judgments against a company you are representing. You certainly do NOT want to let that request go by the wayside!
The moment you receive that e-mail request you can flag it for follow up or action. Look at your e-mail. See the faint flag next to it?
If you left-click that flag Outlook will set the flag to the action Follow Up with a due date of the current date. However, if you right-click the flag, you will have more choices. Always remember – left-click selects, right-click gives you choices!
As you can see, you can make your selection from:
- Next Week (the following Monday)
- No date (follow up whenever you like – no deadline)
- Custom (allows you to set up any day you like)
Take note that the closer your deadline, the redder the flag becomes. Obviously this is a visual way to show you what deadlines are urgent rather than those that can wait for your attention.
Add a Reminder
If you click Add a Reminder on the menu shown above, it tells Outlook to give you a pop-up reminder window, much like the one you are used to seeing for your calendar appointments. All you do is set the time and date.
Some things to remember:
When you select your date and time for your reminder, you can also set your Start and Due dates. They default to the same date, so be sure you change it because it can definitely affect when the flagged e-mail will show up in your Tasks/To Do list or Calendar.
Also in the Action Follow Up, you can select from:
- Do Not Forward
- For Your Information
- No Response Necessary
- Reply to All
This can be helpful to you if you decide to group all your phone calls, etc. together.
You can also customize your reminder sound by clicking on the speaker icon and browsing to a different sound file or, you can turn the sound off completely.
So now you know how to take care of the requests that are sent to you, but what about the requests that you send to other people??
Outlook has you covered on those events as well.
Remind your Recipients to Respond
You don’t want the folks who receive your e-mails let them languish in their Inbox right?
Well when you open up a new message, take a look up at the Tags group. There you will see a drop-down called Follow Up and here is where you can set a reminder to pop up for your recipient, prompting her/him to respond to your e-mail.
In Outlook 2010, it looks like this:
In Outlook 2007, it actually shows on the drop-down without you having to click Add Reminder.
Both versions will then open up a dialog box.
This is where you can set a reminder for your recipient by checking the Flag for Recipients checkbox, which will default to the current date, but you can re-set it to another date of your choice.
But wait, there’s more!
While you are setting up your recipient’s reminder, you can also set a reminder for yourself to follow up on this and it can be completely independent of the one you set for your recipient. To set your reminder, simply click the Flag for Me box.
Again the dates will default to the current date, but you can change them.
Now that you are down with reminding your recipient and yourself, and you know how to flag incoming and outgoing e-mails, you need a quick way to see them at a glance and know what exactly is going on.
Follow the steps below to learn how:
Click on your Tasks folder on the left-hand side of your Outlook window.
In your Tasks folder, the first folder you will see is To-Do List, whch is a list of all the flagged e-mails that have not been marked complete.
And there is your quick review of all outstanding requests including those you have have for other people and those you have received from them. And, they are sorted by Due Date, with the most urgent on top, but you can adjust that if you like.
I bet you are going to be very efficient now that you know how!