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Still think Microsoft Outlook is just for email? You’re missing the much bigger time-saving picture.

Over the years, Outlook has steadily evolved from a basic email application into a powerful productivity platform. Office 2013 Outlook has some pretty impressive time management tools that go well beyond better functionality on touchscreen and mobile devices. Outlook 2013 has also become a fantastic software for managing multiple tasks and improving your overall time management.

And if you’re already comfortable using Outlook’s basic features, incorporating Outlook’s productivity tools and time-saving shortcuts into your daily use should be relatively easy.

Here are 10 easy ways to save time with Outlook 2013:

1. Quick peeks: To see information in your calendar, contacts, or other Outlook items, just hover your mouse over the icons.

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2. Quick deletes: You can now take a quick peek at an email, and delete, tag, or move it without having to open it up.

3. Quick replies: Instead of clicking on reply, just start typing and the Inline Reply feature automatically creates a new message.

4. Quick availability: Need a response ASAP? The contacts list shows you who is available right now… and who isn’t.

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5. Quick access toolbar: You can customize Outlook’s access toolbar by adding other frequently-used commands like print. It’ll shave off a couple of clicks each time you print.

Outlook 2013, Office 2013 Outlook, Outlook productivity tools, time management, managing multiple tasks

6. Reorder your folders: Not the alphabetical type? Drag and drop your folders to arrange them in order of importance, or frequency of messages… however you wish. Revert whenever you want.

Outlook 2013, Office 2013 Outlook, Outlook productivity tools, time management, managing multiple tasks

7. Translate emails: Is your Spanish a little rusty? Highlight the confusing text, right-click, and choose Translate. Or click the Translate button in the Ribbon. The quality of the translation is another matter, however.

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8. Make full use of calendars: With Outlook 2013, you can…
- Create multiple calendars (business and personal, teams, etc.). To avoid scheduling conflicts, you can view them side by side by clicking the check box next to each calendar name in the Navigation pane.

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- Or even better, superimpose them. You’ll see right away what time is free on both calendars. When you have two calendars open, a small arrow appears next to the name of one. When you click that arrow, both calendars appear, one atop the other, with both sets of appointments showing, like this:

Outlook 2013, Office 2013 Outlook, Outlook productivity tools, time management, managing multiple tasks
- You can also view just a selected number of days (between 1 and 10 days). Hold down the Alt key and type the number of days you want to see. Press Alt+2 for two days, Alt+3 for three days, etc. Alt+0 (zero) gives you 10 days.
- Or select dates as a group, such as May 10 to June 20. On the To-Do bar, click May 10 and while pressing the Shift key, click June 20. All the dates in between are selected and appear in the Information Viewer.

9. Pin contact cards: To keep a person’s contact information on-screen while doing something else, hover your mouse over the person’s e-mail address until a little rectangle appears (that’s the contact card). If you click on the tiny pushpin icon near the upper-right corner of the card, the contact card will float on the screen (until you click the pushpin again to make it go away).

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10. Use the Task List: Still creating your to-do list in a text document or paper notepad? Outlook 2013’s task management area has most—if not all—of the options you’ll need:

• Start date and due date
• Priority
• Status (in progress, completed, etc.)
• Set a reminder
• Recurring
• Assign task to other users

Outlook 2013, Office 2013 Outlook, Outlook productivity tools, time management, managing multiple tasks

Using the task list is easy; the tricky part is remembering to use it. It can take time to train yourself to enter and update items as they occur. But once it becomes an ingrained habit, you’ll have a much better picture of where your time is going each day.

There’s even more ways to save time with Outlook, such as follow-up flags to help you remember to follow up on certain emails or actions; color-based categories to organize tasks, emails, calendar items, etc. in order of priority; and reminders to help you be more disciplined about respecting the scheduled time you devote to various tasks. And the list goes on.

Forming any new habit always takes time, so be patient. Give yourself a few months to firmly integrate these features into your daily routine. In all likelihood, you’ll probably end up using some features more than others. Regardless, you should soon see real gains in your time and task management.

These tips don’t even touch upon all of Outlook’s integration possibilities with Exchange and SharePoint, such as share contacts, document libraries, calendars, etc. Or the native support of Office application formats within Outlook. We’ll save that for an upcoming blog.

Speaking of Outlook 2013… why not take Outlook to the cloud? You can install Outlook 2013 and all these great productivity boosting features on our Hosted Exchange 2010 plans and Hosted Exchange 2013 plans.

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