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Harness the Power of Microsoft Outlook

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Many lawyers use Microsoft Outlook simply because it is the email program they’ve always used. With a little work, Outlook can be a powerhouse asset that helps you to wrangle all the emails that come your way.

Are you trying to achieve the elusive Inbox Zero? Consider setting up some rules to move your mail to folders automatically. Set up a rule by opening an email that is one you wish to automate. Right-click on that email and choose Rule and then Create Rule. Choose Advanced Options, which will take you to the Rules Wizard. The Rules Wizard lets you define which emails need to be automatically handled and what you’d like Outlook to do with those emails, such as sending it to a folder, flagging it for follow-up or forwarding it. It’s a great way to deal with emails you get routinely, like ECF filings. If you routinely send out emails to a large group of people or a mailing list but don’t want to get deluged with replies, you can set up Outlook to redirect your replies to your assistant or anyone else you’d like. Once you’ve drafted your email, choose the Options tab, and then click Direct Replies To. Delete your name and add the person you’d like replies to go to instead. Close that window and send your email, and you won’t be inundated with responses. Lawyers’ lives are driven by deadlines, so why not use Outlook’s built-in date calculator to help you figure out deadlines. For example, if you have a 30-day discovery deadline, you can calculate that by starting a Task window, going to the Date field, and typing Today+30 Days in that field. You can also use plain language and tell it to calculate things like “two weeks” or “one month.” Outlook has many features that can help you streamline your practice and save time during your workday. The more you learn about it, the more useful a tool it will be for you.