Randy Dean's Timely Tips

You may have read Timely Tips on Randy Dean's web site, but now you can interact with it here on Blogspot.com. Please feel free to add comments and tips of your own, and thank you for your continued interest.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Timely Tips May 2008: The Shift & CTRL Keys as E-mail "Organizers"

Use the Shift and CTRL keys to Select and File Related Groups of E-mail Messages
This is another tip I share in my new e-book, Taming the E-mail Beast: 45 Key Strategies for Better Managing Your E-mail Overload. It really helps when trying to clean up a messy e-mail account, by allowing you to quickly select and move related messages to appropriate folders (or delete them!)

Here's how it works in MS Outlook:

Most people know how to sort messages in the Outlook e-mail tool by clicking on the "To/From", "Subject", "Date Received/Sent", or "Size" tabs at the top of the general e-mail screen. Simply click on any one of these headers, and all of your e-mails in that folder will suddenly sort top to bottom for that specific category, just like a sort works in MS Excel (for all of you spreadsheet experts out there). Click on the same header again, and now the sort will be from bottom to top.

What happens when you do this is that you will get "like" messages all grouped together. For instance, if you had an e-mail from me, Randy Dean, selected, and then you clicked on the "From" header or tab, you will likely see all of my e-mails in a group right next to each other. Above them, you'll have all of your e-mails from Rance Gibson, and below you'll have all of the e-mails from Rascal Stephens (alpha sort above and below). Let's now suppose that all of those e-mails from yours truly could now be put into a single file folder in your e-mail account, as all of the e-mails you receive from me are related to a single project we are working on together. The slow way to move those e-mails is obviously moving them one at a time from your inbox folder to the appropriate subfolder for the project.

A better way is to use the Shift key. Select the very top message from "Randy Dean" using a single left click, then hold down the Shift key, then scroll to the bottom "Randy Dean" message and select (again with a single left click). You'll see that your Outlook (and I believe GroupWise and LotusNotes works the same way too -- Timely Tips readers, please confirm!) has now highlighted ALL of the Randy Dean messages as a single group. Now, you can move your mouse up over the selected group of messages, click and hold your left mouse button, and then you can drag and drop the entire group of messages "en masse" into the appropriate project folder. Test it out -- it is a pretty cool way to move lots of related e-mail messages in very little time!

Now, you can also use the CTRL key to do a similar action, but with the CTRL key, you can actually select messages that are "discontiguous". Do the same sort, get all of the "Randy" messages together, but this time, you need to split these messages between two e-mail project folders. Easy! Select the top message with a single left click just as before, but now hold down the CTRL key. Doing this, you can now click on each individual message that you want to move, and create a discontiguous group of messages to be filed "en masse" into the appropriate project folder. (By the way, these same basic Shift and CTRL selection capabilities work in many Microsoft and other business software programs, like Excel, Word, etc. -- test them out sometime.)

Using these two excellent strategies, you can select and move lots of related e-mails very quickly and efficiently. Give it a try!

A Few Great Comments/Qualifiers on Last Month's Timely Tips
Dr. Tunga Kiyak of the Eli Broad College of Business at Michigan State University (and avid Timely Tips reader) had a few great follow up comments on my suggestion for using your "out of office" autoreply per last month's tip. These are some great reminders for appropriately setting up an autoreply message, and I wanted to share them with all of you:

"1) Do not set an auto-response to every email if you are subscribed to mailing lists. Otherwise, every person that sends a message to the mailing list receives one of these autoreplies back. And if 50 people on the list are doing this, you get 50 useless auto-response emails back from the mailing list for each mail you send out. Of course, my recommendation would be that all mailing lists be subscribed to via an alternate email anyways, not the email address that you use for your actual personal communications. (Hey Tunga -- that last little bit sounds a whole lot like one of my earlier tips about having multiple accounts. -RD)

2) Also, do not set an Auto Response function unless your email program also has a "smart memory" function for these auto-responses, so that your e-mail account does not send multiple auto-responses back to the same individual for every email they send. There are cases where you might send emails back and forth with the same person multiple times throughout the day clarifying issues, or tying up loose ends on a project on a deadline. It will be extremely frustrating if the person gets an auto-response message every time he or she sends you a message during the day. (Remember in the old days [like five years ago] when we were told not to use autoreplies as they could create "endless loops" with other people's autoreplies that could crash the server? -RD)

3) Do not forget to keep your auto-response message up-to-date. There is nothing worse then having an auto-response message saying that you'll be back on June 1st, when it's already June 10th... (Hey, and do the same thing with your voice mail message too! That's a big pet peeve of mine. -RD) ;-)

These are great additional autoreply tips. Thanks again for sharing them Tunga with the rest of the Timely Tips readers. (And please excuse my extraneous italicized commentary.)

Until Next Time ...
Remember next week's teleseminar if you haven't registered yet, and look for me in coming weeks at MSU's HRD Group, U. Michigan Flint, on a Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) webinar, at the HSMAI Affordable Meetings West conference in Long Beach, CA, and at the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) Annual Conference in Tampa, FL, as well as grilling burgers and dogs somewhere here in Michigan on Memorial Day. Drop me a note if I'll be nearby.

Until next time,

Stay Timely!


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