Digitalization has progressed so quickly in everyday corporate life in recent years that many employees and small to medium-sized companies outside the IT sector can hardly keep up. An excessive amount of distraction, involvement and overstimulation slows down work processes, lowers productivity and increases stress levels.
Email floods, meeting marathons, jour fixe – and everyone is with you everywhere and likes cc. Where is there still enough time to work? Many tools promise a remedy, but only increase the overall complexity. Rather, the solution is to find your way back to the simple and concentrate on the essentials. For example, Microsoft’s office applications, which are used as standard in most companies – for example Outlook – have enormous potential for efficiency. However, despite the daily dealings, very few employees actually know how to make full use of the program’s options for easier, faster and more efficient work organization. Most make everyday work harder than it should be.
In addition, email clients, appointment and resource planning, task management and joint file processing are available in Outlook. In this way, you can create a very efficient and clear workflow with a single system that is installed on almost every device and is also available as a web application. And best of all: You don’t have to buy anything new, you just have to use what is already there.
- The most important rules for mail, cell phone, social media …
… is summarized in this digital etiquette.
- Concise and precise …
… business emails should be written. Keep it very simple!
- spelling, orthography
Orthography errors should be avoided! If necessary, run a spelling program on the side.
- Pace …
… is the greatest advantage of electronic mail, which is why messages should always be answered as soon as possible.
It should be specific and meaningful. It’s worth a little effort here.
- “Copy to” and “Reply to everyone” …
… should be avoided as far as possible, since nobody wants to have information avalanches that break over him.
- Legal regulations
Mandatory information about the company has been mandatory in Germany since the beginning of 2007 and must appear in the email signature at the end.
- Spam …
… simply ignore. “Unsubscribe” means that the recipient is at home and can therefore receive even more spam.
- Urgent cases ..
… do not always have to be handled by mail. In this case it is better to pick up the phone.
- Mobile phone break in meetings …
… is a naive but desirable utopia. A third of the employees are also looking at their cell phones, according to a survey by the industry association BITKOM.
- Ringtones …
… please choose as discreetly as possible and switch off in the open-plan office.
- Business lunch
Place the cell phone on the table with the display facing down and switch to vibration.
- Calling colleagues …
… should be done at a proper distance. Having to listen to other people’s conversations can be exhausting.
Short and sweet is enough.
- Censor yourself
Do not publish unfavorable pictures of parties or comments that colleagues and employers may find offensive.
- Advertising on social media …
… is taboo because “Friends” and “Followers” don’t want to be burdened with it.
- To give recommendations, …
… for example about films, products or books is always welcome.
- No photos from lunch, …
… because nobody cares.
The three main functions of Outlook are email communication, the appointment calendar and the task list. These core functions can be combined so cleverly that previously tedious work steps are much faster and easier. With four tips, which are outlined below, you create the basis for more efficient self-organization and team organization as well as a simple workflow that should make everyday work easier and save a lot of time.
Frequent interruptions disturb the concentration. And each time it takes a little time to get the thread back on. But then the next email pops up on the right-hand side of the screen, thus sneaking our attention. With an average of 30 messages per employee and day, this statistically results in an interruption every 15 minutes. And emails are actually an asynchronous means of communication!
• The solution: The notification function with the popping up emails on the edge of the screen is activated by default in Outlook, but can be easily deactivated. To do this, click on the tab -> File and then on the menu items -> Options and -> E-Mail. Remove all four checkmarks in the “Inbox” area.
• Instead, write in your diary two or three times for half an hour each day. In these time slots, you then process all the emails in blocks and can therefore do your work more efficiently and undisturbed. Apart from the fact that block processing of e-mails is also faster.
If you always read your emails immediately, but only edit them at a later point in time, you usually have to read the content twice. That takes up unnecessary time. Processing is much faster with the following five-step rule.
1. Delete irrelevant immediately: E-mails without important information or specific tasks do not have to be kept. These are deleted immediately after reading. This creates a tidy inbox and there is no risk of accidentally opening the useless e-mail again at a later time and reading it again.
2. Forward if necessary: If another person is responsible for processing, or if the content is also interesting for others, the email will be forwarded immediately.
3. Move emails to the archive without a to-do: If an email contains useful information but no specific task, it is immediately moved to an archive folder and the inbox is cleaned up.
4. Do mails with tasks under five minutes straight away: Smaller to-do’s with a processing time of less than five minutes are processed immediately after reading. Because the time it takes to probe the e-mail a second time and to have to rethink the task is greater than doing the task immediately and checking it off.
5. Convert e-mails with tasks over five minutes into an appointment or a task: E-mails that contain larger tasks are simply converted into a calendar appointment or a task with
just a click of the mouse. In this way, the required working time can be planned and reserved quickly and easily as soon as you read it. The next tip shows how this works.
Simply grab an e-mail in Outlook with the mouse and drag it either onto the calendar or onto the task symbol at the bottom left. Particularly practical: The e-mail is then saved in the text field of the appointment or task and can optionally be edited, for example, to put a brief guide for later editing at the front or to delete unimportant parts.
Not only have you initiated a workflow for task processing and planned the necessary time resources, but you also have all the information you need for later processing at hand in the calendar or task element, without having to search your emails a second time to have to. Tip: You can also delegate the converted task to a responsible employee for processing or invite other participants to the calendar appointment.
By default, all appointments are displayed in the calendar and all tasks in the separate task list. However, this division in two makes it difficult to get an overview. Outlook now provides you with a combined calendar-task view so that you can keep an eye on all of your time resources (and those of your employees). In the Outlook calendar, simply click on the tab -> Display, then on -> Work week and in -> Daily task list on -> Normal.
You will now also see the tasks due on the respective key date below the calendar days. Then simply drag a task into a free time window of the calendar to block it for task processing. So not only you, but also your colleagues can see at a glance that you have no appointment during this period, but are still busy.
Read more in “This is how offices work today! Working successfully in the digital age”
These and many other tips for more efficient workflows in the digital office are described by the two thought leaders for office efficiency, Jürgen Kurz and Marcel Miller (Tempus, Kaizen office), in the recently published guide book “This is how offices work today! Working successfully in the digital age”. The authors use practical instructions to explain step by step how you can use digital minimalism and an intelligent link to achieve an efficient workflow in your company.