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Using Microsoft Outlook Effectively

When asked "What is Microsoft Outlook?” One might say it’s just an email app. But using it only for email means your team is missing out on a powerful time management and collaboration tool. 

people working at a table

Packed with planning, information-sharing, and delegating capabilities, Outlook can be the software that takes your team’s work to the next level. As an app that you likely already have, this means there is no technological investment to gain significant efficiencies. 


Savvy leaders will make the most of Outlook, ensuring their team knows all of the features available, and how to incorporate them best into their workflow. Two surefire ways to achieve this is through Outlook Training, and creating communication guidelines, or a document that outlines the usage of Outlook and communications best practices. 



What happens when Outlook is not used to the fullest?


Email can be maddening, but it doesn’t have to be. Consider these three major problems associated with email usage: 


  • Email Overload - Emails hit employees’ inboxes everyday. When that volume becomes high, it can lead to email overload. When hundreds or thousands of emails fill an inbox, responding to messages and filing away messages can be overwhelming. This influx of correspondence reduces productivity and can lead to missed communications. 

  • Miscommunication - Misinterpretation of email messages due to unclear language or tone can cause misunderstanding and conflicts. Team members may not receive accurate instructions, causing inaccuracies with a work product, or they may feel slighted by a poorly worded approach. When affecting clients, miscommunication can reduce customer satisfaction or even sever ties with a once loyal client.  

  • Security Risks - Email is susceptible to security threats such as phishing attacks, malware and data breaches. Clicking on malicious links or downloading infected attachments can compromise sensitive information and damage the organisation's reputation. 


How To Create Outlook Communication Guidelines

Creating guidelines with your team will alleviate the above problems, and set your workgroup up for success. This will give them the framework to be more efficient in communications and organisation, and thereby, collaborate better. Gather your team together and discuss and have them agree on the following:

Email Urgency 

  • Establish set intervals for checking emails, such as every two hours or four times a day. 

  • Reserve urgent matters for direct communication via phone or face-to-face interaction. 

  • Avoid using emails to seek consensus on matters 

Use Email Sparingly 

  • Eliminate unnecessary acknowledgement responses like "Thanks."  

  • Limit the use of cc to only relevant recipients. 

  • Reserve "Reply to All" for instances where everyone on the original distribution list needs to receive the response. 

  • Refrain from using emails for brainstorming ideas; instead, ask people to add their thoughts to a shared workspace in Microsoft Teams or OneNote.

Select the Appropriate Communication Method 

  • Use the "To:" field for recipients who require action or a response. 

  • Employ the "Cc:" field for those who need to stay informed. 

  • Reserve company-wide communications for platforms like online newsletters, avoiding mass email distribution lists. 

  • Create targeted distribution lists to ensure messages reach only relevant individuals. 


Clear Email Subjects 

  • Craft subject lines with keywords for quick message identification. 

  • Update the subject line with each reply to maintain clarity. 


Avoid Large Attachments 

  • Limit attachment usage, particularly for large files that slow down remote connections. 

  • Consider pasting minimal text directly into emails and using attachments for lengthy text or graphics-heavy documents. 

  • Explore alternative methods for transferring very large files, such as Microsoft Teams 


Observe Email Etiquette 

  • Perform spell checks before sending emails. 

  • Ensure messages are grammatically correct and easily comprehensible. 

  • Keep emails brief and to the point. 

  • Avoid using all capital letters, which may convey anger or yelling. 

  • Refrain from using graphic or rolling backgrounds to prevent server strain and distractions. 

  • Maintain email length to one page or less, covering only one subject per email. 

Adhere to Organisational Policies 

  • Refrain from transmitting or storing emails containing discriminatory, defamatory, harassing, or obscene content. 

  • Understand that electronic communications are not entirely private and may be accessed by the organisation. 



How Microsoft Outlook Training Makes Your Team Superstars

After your team has discussed these email sticking points, it’s time to formulate your Communication Guidelines. Take this information and create an easily scannable and understandable document that is stored in a place that can be accessed by all workers at any time. 


At Priority Management, we have been helping teams streamline their work processes including email and communications. We collaborate with teams and individuals to learn about their working styles and formulate best practices and curate training to improve their work habits. 


We are in the business of behavioral improvements by creating lasting positive changes to how successful people work. And we’ve been doing it for over forty years around the globe. 


Find out more about our Outlook Training here and see all our courses here.


About us > Priority Management is a worldwide training company with 55 offices in 15 countries. We have successfully trained more than two million graduates in Priority workshops. Our programs help companies and people be more effective and manage their workflow in and out of the office by providing tools, processes and discipline. Simply put - A Better Way To Work! Clients range from Fortune 500 companies, small-to-medium businesses and government/military employees. Click Here to view all our courses.

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