View settings in Outlook

If you have never played with the view settings within Outlook, you’re missing out on some key features and customizable options to reviewing your email. In a conversation with a DSA colleague the other day the subject of “above the fold” and “below the fold” came up – i.e. this person tries to handle everything that comes in, but if the email ends up “below the fold” – i.e. below what’s viewable on the screen, the contents could get lost, and the email will not receive a response.

I thought I would share with you some of the ways that I handle the sorting of email. First, I use the flag feature religiously. If the email has some importance, or I am awaiting a reply after I have responded to the email, then I will flag it for follow up. I chose “one week” as my default follow up time frame, and then I set up my custom view on my inbox folder to group emails by Follow Up flag, showing all groupings as collapsed (not expanded).

Outlook - Flag View

This way, all the new emails come in underneath the “unflagged” section, allowing me to handle them as they come in. Important items, or items that I know will take more than 5 minutes to handle, are flagged and appear in the top section of my email, thus making sure that I won’t lose it “below the fold.” Once my email has been cleared, I file the emails, and then return to the flagged items for my project work.

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Using multiple views to display information

One rather powerful yet in some cases little-known, feature of SharePoint is the ability to create and then use Custom Views. I have talked about custom views a few times in this blog so far. We created custom views in a discussion board so that we could then attach alerts to them, thus allowing us to customize how we choose to have certain topics delivered to us.

For site owners, creating numerous views allows us the flexibility to customize pages and displaying only the information we’re interested in. Rather than creating multiple lists, or using lots of folders, we can create one list and use custom views to display them onto a page. Using custom views allows those pages to be somewhat dynamic.

Using views in this way allows you as a site owner to minimize access to the configuration panels, while still granting access to all the information available on the site. In the case of the template page, creating separate views allowed me to display content in three separate columns, while still only keeping the information in one list.

Sharing Subfolders using Outlook

Working in a team environment means collaboration and cooperation. Oftentimes, there is also a need for someone to “cover” for someone else while they are on extended leave, and having access to their email folder would be quite handy.

In my previous work environment, as the head of the marketing department, I was the point person for most of the communications that came into our team, but that did not mean that I needed to handle everything that came in. With the handy-dandy filtering capabilities, as well as the option to share specific folders in my email client, I was able to effectively delegate without always needing to “forward” emails. My team could just add my folder to their email client, and then were able to work independently, without seeing the contents of my main inbox.

In order to share Outlook subfolders with another user, you need to give them the desired permission to the folder – at least Reviewer, so they can see the contents – and at least Folder visible permission to every folder above the shared subfolder.

To share the folder, right click on the folder name, and choose Properties. Go to the permissions tab and assign permissions to the person you want to share with.

Every folder in the path above your shared folder needs to have at least “Folder visible” permission, up through to the top level. To hide the contents of all the folders above the shared folder, make sure you keep the following settings:

  • Read: None
  • Delete items: None
  • Write: keep all unchecked
  • Other: only check “Folder Visible”

Use right-click and drag to copy appointments on your calendar

Microsoft and other software developers have spoiled us over the years, with being somewhat consistent in what certain functions do. For example, right-clicking text in Word gives you several options, including copying and pasting your text.

If you have ever tried to do this in your Outlook Calendar however, you will find that copy is missing from the right-click menu. If you left-click and drag an appointment on your calendar it moves the appointment. So, how do you copy an appointment?

You can click on the appointment and use Ctrl + C to copy it, then Ctrl + V to paste it where you need; or you can right-click and drag the appointment where you need to have it. You are then given the option to copy or move the appointment.

Pinterest as a productivity tool

In the past I did a post on Pinterest, and how I use it as my bookmarks system for capturing work. I have a couple of work related boards including Office365 resources, SharePoint Pages/Posts for specific references, and SharePointBlogs/Websites for general sites that I have found, that I keep an eye on and reference periodically.

My Pinterest boards come in handy sometimes when I need content for this blog, or if I need to solve a particular problem and I know I have seen an article about that problem. It’s a great filing system. When it comes to productivity tools, OneNote is my favorite productivity tool in Office365, and Pinterest is my favorite productivity in the realm of Social Media.

I am generally not a big fan of the “big brother” aspect of websites where they picks things I might be interested in, and in particular, advertisements based on my viewing history really bug me. Especially around Christmas time. So much for me trying to search for a gift for someone in my household. Next time I load my Facebook or another website, my cookies generate all kinds of ads for those gift ideas. Great way to keep my gift idea a secret, right?

In the case of Pinterest, however, I really don’t mind that it “helps” me. I cannot scour the web for everything related to a topic and so I am glad when Pinterest helps me out by presenting something that might be helpful to me. I have found some very special nuggets that way, and it continues to feed me new ideas.

So if you haven’t used Pinterest before or you haven’t figured out how a good way to use it, try it as a productivity tool. I think you might surprise yourself when you see the wealth of information that’s out there to help you do your job.

A look at the Site Contents screen

The Site Contents screen is a neat dashboard look at your site usage. First of all, you can see your site visits for the last 7 days, right there on top of your screen. The usage statistics report for the site is hidden in the site settings, so it’s nice to have those numbers front and center.

Site Contents: site visits

Next to the site visits block you have the most popular files on the site. You also have tips for using SharePoint. Today, my tip is to add a new document library.

Below those three you now have Contents and Subsites split out next to each other.

The Contents view lists all the apps on your site. This used to be displayed with large app icons. Now they have a smaller icon with the full name of the app next to it. I’m ok with either view, it’s just something to get used to.

The Subsites view gives you a quick pictorial glance of how many people view or access your subsites. I’m not sure what time frame the site is using, because comparing them to the site views dashboard box, the numbers are different. It’s still pretty interesting and I am glad they are providing this data in an easy to read format.

Site Contents: site views

I can also fairly easily see that we have quite a bit of activity on our SharePoint sites within our site collecttion: 21 sites have had some kind of change made in the past 24 hours. I’m pretty pleased with that number, so I hope our site owners keep up that momentum!

Forms: settings and sharing

Settings

Under the Send Form button in the Forms application, you can use form settings to specify deadlines, identify form responders, display correct answers for quizzes, and to set other preferences.

You can set the options for

  • Who can fill out this form (only people in the organization, or anyone with a link)
  • How to interact with responders (collect responses, apply a deadline, display the correct answers after the responders submit the form, and shuffle questions)

Sharing

Once you have configured your form the way you want, you can share it with others, meaning you want them to complete the form.

You can share your form in several ways

  • You can copy and paste the link
  • You can email the link
  • Create a QR code that can be added to a flyer
  • Embed the form into an existing web page