Posts from August 2010.

ClearContext Daily Workflow: Manage

ManageAfter you have identified the day’s priorities, twice daily (or other specified interval based on email response time requirements), starting with your highest priority email first, quickly act on each Inbox message or determine when you want to act on it:

Act Immediately?

Reply

Reply to the message if you can do so in a minute or two.

Delegate

Delegate the email to someone else as appropriate.

File

If no response is required, review the message and file it to a Project folder.

Act Later?

Reply

Defer messages that you aren’t ready to deal with to a later date.

Delegate

Create a task from email that requires further action on your part.  Assign Projects to tasks as you create them.

File

Schedule appointments from messages that require a meeting.  Assign Projects to appointments as you create them.

No action required?

Reply

Unsubscribe from mailing lists or long email threads that you have no interest in.

Delegate

Use the Delete key to delete messages that you don’t need to keep for archiving purposes.

The end result will be a cleared Inbox and a prioritized task list, allowing you to focus on your work rather than your email.

Tip

File Original

As you act on email, assign a Project and allow ClearContext to automatically file the original message from the Inbox into a Topic folder.

Tomorrow: Throughout the day, succeed by focusing on your core work

ClearContext Daily Workflow: Identify

We recommend the following best practices for managing your workday with ClearContext:

 

ClearContext Daily Workflow for Email Processing

 

Identify Identify

Start your workday by identifying what you need to focus on.

Review your appointments for the day

Review today’s meetings and appointments.  Reschedule any conflicts.

Tasks and Appointments in the Dashboard

Review your Tasks and Actions for the day in the ClearContext Dashboard.  Adjust due dates based on task and project priorities.

Review your highest priority projects

Review overdue and pinned projects in the ClearContext Dashboard to determine which Projects require immediate attention.

Prioritized email

Identify your highest priority messages so that you are prepared to manage your Inbox.

Taking this time in the morning will get your priorities in place to ensure that you have a productive day.

Tip

Before you move on to the Manage phase and tackle your Inbox for the first time, work on one or two of your most important tasks.

Tomorrow: Twice daily, manage your inbox…

User Guide: Toolbar Management: Configure ClearContext to Work the Way You Do

The v5.1 release has introduced many new time-saving enhancements to the product.  This concludes our posts of the updated User Guide.

By default in Outlook 2003 and 2007, ClearContext adds a single toolbar to the Inbox with the applications most-used functions.  Add or remove buttons from this toolbar via ClearContext > Options > UI/Toolbar.  This feature is not available in Outlook 2010.

IMS User Guide: Toolbar Management

To add buttons to the toolbar, highlight the button name in the Available column and click Add.  To remove, click items in theActive column and click Remove.  Use the arrows below the Active field to change the order of the toolbar buttons.  Reset All will put the buttons back in their factory default positions.  You will need to restart Outlook for the changes to take effect.

Add a Second Toolbar

Add <START NEW TOOLBAR> to the active column to create a second toolbar.  Any items that appear in the active list below <START NEW TOOLBAR> will be placed on a second toolbar.  One caveat – the items marked "Drop Down Selector" must appear on the first toolbar.

Download a PDF of this User Guide here.

User Guide: Contact Exporter – Identify and Extract Your High Priority Contacts in Outlook

The v5.1 release has introduced many new time-saving enhancements to the product.  We’re posting the updated User Guide over several weeks.

The Contact Exporter lets you create and export groups of email addresses found in messages stored in the Outlook folders you select.

Contact Exporter

Select the email addresses from a prioritized list of contacts generated for you to create an Outlook distribution list, Outlook contact records, or a CSV export file. 

  • Send a group email to people on your team – Select your work or team folder and create an Outlook distribution list. 
  • Create a party invitation for your friends – Select your personal correspondence folders and generate a list that you can send an email to or export to an online invitation service. 
  • Add all your business contacts to LinkedIn or your personal contacts to Facebook – Select the appropriate folders and create an export file you can upload.

To use the Contact Exporter:

  1. Go to ClearContext > Tools > Contact Exporter (Pro) from the main menu. 
  2. Select the folders containing emails you want to export contact information from.
  3. The contacts found in those folders are divided into a list divided into three groups:  More Relevant, Relevant, andLess Relevant.  Use the selection links to select/deselect groups of those contacts or the checkboxes to individually select/deselect the contacts you want to export.
  4. Check the export formats you would like for the email addresses and enter names for the files – Outlook distribution list, Outlook contact records, or CSV file.
Import Contacts into Popular Websites

Once you’ve created the list, you can import these contacts into any services that accept CSV files.  Here are import links for a few popular sites (log into the sites before clicking the links below): 

User Guide: Do Not Disturb – Focus on Your Work Without Distraction

The v5.1 release has introduced many new time-saving enhancements to the product.  We’re posting the updated User Guide over several weeks.

Do Not Disturb disables all default Outlook notifications for new messages, including New Mail Desktop Alerts, changes in the mouse cursor, the envelope icon in the system tray and the default new mail sound.

IMS Do Not Disturb: Work without distraction

To use this feature, select Do Not Disturb from the ClearContext menu.  In the Do Not Disturb dialog, select the length of time that you would like to have new mail notifications disabled and click OK.  When the time frame specified has past, ClearContext will re-enable message notifications.  If you would like to reset your notifications prior to the expiration time, select Do Not Disturb from the menu again.  Do Not Disturb will also reset notifications if you restart Outlook.

By default, the Inbox toolbar does not include the Do Not Disturb button.  You can add it to the toolbar via toolbar customization.

Succeed

When you’re ready to focus on your projects, use Do Not Disturb to ensure that you aren’t distracted by incoming email.

User Guide: Email Scorecard – Measure Your Email Effectiveness

The v5.1 release has introduced many new time-saving enhancements to the product.  We’re posting the updated User Guide over several weeks.

The Email Activity Index provides an overall assessment of how effectively you’re managing your email and how heavy a workload you’re facing.

Email Activity Index

Launch Email ScorecardTo view your Email Activity Index, click More at the bottom of the Dashboard or selectScorecard from the ClearContext menu.  A browser window will open, displaying your some basic stats about your email usage along with the ClearContext Email Index.

ClearContext Email Index Rating: Effectiveness

This score is an overall measure of how effectively you are managing your email communications.  The higher your score, the better you are doing with email!

Star

Excellent (80 – 100):  great job at staying on top of email and getting a lot done!

Blue Ribbon

Very Good (60 – 79): you are doing a good job at keeping up with email!

Envelope

OK (40 – 59): you are just managing to stay in control of your email.

Attention Required

Warning (20 – 39): you are falling behind in your email communications.

Da Bomb

Danger (0 – 19): Your email is getting totally out of control.

Rating Areas

Your email effectiveness score is made up of three components:

  • Response Time: This factor measures how promptly you are responding to emails.  Getting back to emails that require responses within 24 hours will result in a good response time score. Use the ClearContext Daily Workflow to get through your email faster.
  • Inbox Control: This factor measures how effectively you are processing the messages in your inbox.  The more messages you have in your inbox and the longer it takes you to read, file, and/or delete messages, the lower your score will be.  Manage your Inbox more efficiently with these tips.
  • Communication: This factor measures how well you are doing at sending out messages and processing messages that require response/action.
ClearContext Email Index Rating: Workload Workload

Your workload score measures how heavy your email communication volumes are.  The more emails you send and receive, the higher your workload score will be – and the harder it is for you to keep on top of your email!  Review Top Five Ways to Reduce Email Traffic.

ClearContext Online

Online

Register with ClearContext Online to see additional email usage metrics.  After registering:

  • Compare your stats with individual users
  • Join groups to compare with colleagues
  • Share your email activity index with others
  • View additional, detailed graphs including responsiveness, effectiveness and workload

User Guide: Shared Filing – Efficiently Collaborate with Your Team

The v5.1 release has introduced many new time-saving enhancements to the product.  We’re posting the updated User Guide over several weeks.

ClearContext allows the designation of a secondary message store (such as SharePoint Lists in Outlook 2007/2010, Public Folders, or an alternate Personal Folders file) as a secondary Project Folder repository for easing sharing of message conversations outside of the primary mail file.

Automatically file email to Sharepoint, Public Folders and Secondary Mail Files

Designate the secondary message store via the Configuration panel and ClearContext will automatically convert folders within the data store to Projects. These shared Projects can then be assigned to message conversations and ClearContext’s file buttons will automatically move messages to the alternate location.

Configuring the Secondary Message Store

To designate a alternate message stores, open the ClearContext Configuration menu at ClearContext > Options > Configuration. After a restart of Outlook, ClearContext automatically populates the Project list with folders in the data store.

Select Public Folders to share to Exchange Server public folders. ClearContext will convert all Mail and Post public folders into Projects, while ignoring folders of other types (Contacts, Tasks, etc.). (Please note that in some versions of Outlook, the name for the public folders data store is listed as Microsoft Exchange Server).

Select SharePoint Lists to instruct ClearContext to recognize SharePoint discussion lists that have been connected to Outlook 2007 and greater. To connect a SharePoint discussion, open the discussion site in a browser and select Actions > Connect to Outlook. This feature is not available in Outlook 2003 and earlier.

Filing to a Secondary Message Store

File to SharePoint Lists

After a secondary message store has been added via Configuration, shared folders automatically appear at the bottom of the Project list. Shared Project assignment and filing then works exactly like Project assignment using primary Projects; assign a shared Project and all current and future messages in the conversation will be assigned that shared Project. Use any of ClearContext’s filing buttons to automatically move these messages into the shared message store.

Archive Mail Files

By default, ClearContext enables all open mail files as project folders.  Remove archive folders from this list at ClearContext > Options > Configuration if you don’t file to them.

User Guide: AutoAssign – Creating Rules to Automatically Organize Email

The v5.1 release has introduced many new time-saving enhancements to the product.  We’re posting the updated User Guide over the several weeks.

ClearContext AutoAssign functionality lets you create rules to automatically prioritize and/or file your incoming email based on parameters that you set.  By using AutoAssign, you can easily organize messages such as newsletters, business email, and personal correspondence.

Create rules to automatically organize Outlook email

Types of AutoAssign Rules

Create an AutoAssign rule by selecting the AutoAssign button by accessing AutoAssign in the ClearContext options menu. AutoAssign rules can be created based on any combination of the factors below. In italics, we have highlighted examples of the types of email messages that might be filed using these rules.

  • Sender email or domain address – These parameters are used to execute a rule based on the email address or domain that sent the email. Enter multiple addresses separated by a comma. Designate emails from your boss with a project such as Work. Designate messages from a certain domains as a project such as Newsletter and automatically file them out of your inbox where you can read them later.
  • Message is addressed to – This parameter can be used to apply a rule to an incoming message based on who the message has been sent to. Enter multiple addresses separated by a comma. Categorize emails sent to both you and your boss with project Management. Use Mark Important to assign a priority to messages sent to a business or private email address so these emails are automatically highlighted in your Inbox.
  • Keywords contained in the message body or subject – ClearContext can search incoming messages for keywords that you designate. Designate an exact phrase or multiple keywords via the radio buttons above the rule. Set the project for regularly received emails with a certain subject (like "Order Information") to a project such as Receipts and automatically file these messages. Search for keywords such as a stock symbol or major client name and Mark these messages Important.
AutoAssign Actions

The following actions can be taken on messages that meet the criteria you designate in the AutoAssign rule:

  • Assign to project – designate a specific project to be set for these messages. This project can be used to both identify messages by project in the Inbox and for automated filing.
  • Assign Priority – assign a priority to these messages. This priority will set the color of messages in your Inbox.
  • File Immediately – messages processed by the rule can be automatically filed to the designated project folder. This is very useful for messages such as Newsletters and Mailing Lists that can be automatically moved out of the Inbox into their own folders.
  • Overwrite existing project – this forces the rule to overwrite the project on messages that are part of a thread with a previously assigned project name.
Managing Multiple Rules

The AutoAssign Management Dialog allows the user to create and maintain AutoAssign Rules. The dialog can be accessed directly from the ClearContext Menu (ClearContext > AutoAssign Management). Use the arrows on the right hand side of the window to move a rule up or down in priority. Once a single rule is executed against a message, the following rules are ignored. To execute all rules against the inbox, click the Apply Rules to Inbox button on this dialog.

Toolbar Customization

By default, the Inbox toolbar does not include the AutoAssign button.  If you find yourself creating many rules, add it to the toolbar via toolbar customization.

AutoAssign Tips

Automated Rule Creation: To create an AutoAssign rule for a type of message (for example a newsletter that you would like automatically filed), highlight the email message, click the AutoAssign toolbar button, and the email’s parameters (address, subject, etc.) will be pre-filled in the AutoAssign rule creation dialog.

User Guide: Attachment Explorer -Preview Outlook Attachments Like Files in Windows

The v5.1 release has introduced many new time-saving enhancements to the product.  We’re posting the updated User Guide over several weeks.

The Attachment Explorer allows you to preview attachments within Outlook folders as if you were viewing them in a Windows file folder.

Attachment Explorer

Preview

While in the folder you want to explore, launch the Attachment Explorer in one of two ways:

  • Click the Attachments button on the Inbox toolbar.  This button must be added to the Pro toolbar.
  • Select ClearContext > Tools > Attachment Explorer from the ClearContext Outlook menu

Once you have opened the folder you want to explore, click on a file in the left hand pane to see a preview in the right hand pane.  Some file types cannot be previewed.  Open a different folder by clicking on the folder name at the top left of the Attachment Explorer dialog.

Change views

While in the Attachment Explorer, there are several ways to change the file display:

  • Select the Views header to choose various views, switching to a smaller detailed list of the attachments in this folder, larger thumbnails, etc..
  • Click the Sort Header to change sorting by attachment name, type, received date, etc..
  • Drag the bar between the attachment list and the previewer to change the width of these panes.
Act

Attachment Explorer ActionsSelect files in the attachment explorer by clicking on them.  Right click or select Actionsto quickly act on these attachments.  Options include:

  • Open the messages containing the selected attachments
  • Open the attachments themselves
  • Save the attachments to a file folder
  • Forward the attachments via email
Quickly Open Messages

Double-clicking an attachment in the file list will automatically open the message it is attached to.  Quickly open the email that contains the attachment you are previewing by clicking the link at the bottom of the preview pane.

User Guide: Organizer – Manage and Review Your Tasks

The v5.1 release has introduced many new time-saving enhancements to the product.  We’re posting the updated User Guide over the next few weeks.

The ClearContext Organizer provides a simple way to assign due dates, projects and categories and a central place to review your work.

ClearContext Organizer

Organize TasksOpen the Organizer by pressing Organize Tasks on the Summary Dashboard, Organize on the Project Dashboard or select it from the ClearContext Inbox menu (ClearContext > Tools > Organizer).

The organizer is divided into four tabs to quickly sift through your data – Dates, Project, Category and Review.

Organizer Tabs

Throughout the organizer:

  • Right click selected tasks to act on them (Mark Complete, Change Due Date or Change Priority).
  • Click on a list header to sort tasks.  Grouping will not change when you sort – tasks will be sorted within the tab’s defined groups.
  • Click on a group header to select all tasks in that group.
Dates

Organizer Date OptionsThe Dates tab lets you quickly identify overdue tasks and/or tasks with no due date so that you can reassign due dates in bulk.  Highlight the tasks that you want to reassign.  Use the buttons at the bottom of the window to assign the due date on the selected tasks to today, tomorrow or to a due date of your choosing.

Project

Assign ProjectView a list of all of your tasks by Project.  Tasks which have not been assigned Projects are listed at the top of the list.  Highlight the tasks you want to assign Projects to and select Assign Project to assign via the Project Selector.

Category

Assign CategoryThe Category tab works in the same way as the Project tab.  Assign a category to tasks by pressing the Assign Category button at the bottom of the panel.

Review

Use the Review tab to view tasks and appointments for a given date range and to drill down on your activities by Project or Category.  The buttons across the bottom of the dialog filter your view:

Review Filters

  • View Completed shows tasks that have been marked complete and appointments that occur in the past.
  • View Pending shows uncompleted tasks and appointments that occur in the future.
  • The Project and Category buttons allow you to filter your list by an individual Project and/or and individual Category.
  • Use the Weeks buttons to select the number of weeks you want to view in your list.
  • Once you have filtered the list, print it via the Print button.
Organizer Tips

While in a Project Dashboard, quickly launch the Project tab of the Organizer by pressing the Organize button.



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