Tech Tuesday #7: Straighten-Up Strategies for Outlook

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If you’re like me, your email box is one of your biggest sources of frustration and perceived busyness. Gone are the days when I started teaching fifteen years ago that we received memos in our school mailboxes; the color of the paper denoted the urgency of the message or lack thereof. One would think that managing messages digitally would be easier; nothing can get lost. I think that’s the problem. We never lose anything! It keeps piling up in our cloud-based limitless email boxes, to the point that the important does sometimes get buried beneath the minutia.

In this first part of the series I’m calling “Straighten-Up Strategies,” let’s tackle that inbox and the overwhelmed feeling it causes.

From today on, I want you to have two goals when it comes to your inbox. There is nothing new under the sun, so I want to give credit to two podcasters I mentioned in a previous Tech Tuesday, Amy Porterfield and Angela Watson, for inspiring these two goals. From Amy I take my first goal, one that I strive for but haven’t reached in forever: Start every day with inbox zero. Yes, you read that right. Make it a goal to completely clean out your inbox regularly, even if it’s not once a day. I know, I know…it’s just going to fill up again, especially if you’re a teacher. The same repeat happens with laundry and dishes as well, but we still have to try to make an effort, right?

The second goal, courtesy of Angela Watson, is this one: touch each email once. You know the drill with deleting, replying, and forwarding an email. However, if you will check out the video below, recorded as a Facebook Live I host every Tuesday, you will find more great strategies that will help you accomplish both goals.

Watch and learn:

  • how to create a calendar appointment from an email just by dragging and dropping
  • how to send emails and their attachments to OneNote
  • how keeping emails in both the “Sent” box and “Inbox” is redundant
  • how to use the Clean Up function in Outlook 2016
  • how to manage folders that are no longer relevant
  • how to use the Sweep function in Office365
  • how to undo an accidental click of the Archive button
  • how to create rules that automatically manage your email for you

It’s an action-packed video, so make sure to tune in!

Tech Tuesday #2: Creating and Using a Habit Tracker to Reach Our Goals

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Hey Friends,
I’m so glad that we’re together again for another Tech Tuesday. This is, in fact, the second Tech Tuesday. I hope you were able to tune into Facebook Live this week, but if not, you might have missed the fact that last week we talked about how we could make our goals visual and more compelling, so would be we would be more likely to do them. We used a free tool called Sway. I walked you through the process for creating a Sway and adding great visual content automatically. So if you did miss that, I invite you to go back and check it out.
But onward and upward as they say! This week, I want to break down the process for creating and embedding a habit tracker into your Sway. By having the tracker alongside your goals, you can see if you’re actually meeting them. Now I know it’s you holding yourself accountable, but there’s something about seeing and writing our goals that helps us to be a little more motivated.
In that vein, let’s talk about four reasons why you might want to track your habits:
Number one: I don’t know about you, but I’m still a sticker girl. Yes, I mean literal stickers like you got when you were a child. The “gold star” method, you might say. For some reason, stickers motivate me. As a matter of fact, last time I was trying to meet my exercise goals, I was in love with them. Every time I did physical activity for thirty minutes, I would give myself a sticker. It’s always fun to see if we have a streak going, and stickers make that streak more colorful and exciting.
Reason number two. We don’t know what we don’t track. I know that in the education world, people say that testing students is overdone, and I’m sure that’s the case. However, measurement also helps us to know what we know. If we write down and track what we’ve accomplished, we have a record of it so that we know it now and we know it later.
Reason number 3 is that there’s a problem if there’s a habit we never do. First of all, I guess we really couldn’t call it a habit at that point, right? But if there’s something on our tracker that is never getting done, we need one of two things: we need either an intervention or we need to move on. We might need someone to step alongside us and help us do that habit, especially if it’s one that’s important to our health and well-being. Or, the “undone-ness” might be a wake-up call that we have been a little unrealistic with ourselves and need to abandon that habit in favor of one we might actually do. Looking at a blank box we never attend to is going to just lead to discouragement anyway, so we might as well re-frame what we’re doing.
The fourth and best reason that we need to track our habits is to get results. Maybe we’ve been using stickers or an online tracker as a dangling carrot, but if we think about it, the completion of the list is not the result. The new habit and the better lifestyle are the results. So if we really want to meet our goals, we definitely need to track them.
My Habits
Let me give you a few of the habits I plan to track this year. If nothing else, they will at least make you laugh about how your habits are so much more serious than mine 🙂 I have a sweet tea addiction. The problem is that every time I drink it, I start to feel anxious and I get a headache. But it’s so good. It’s the South’s version of the nectar of the gods, you might say. So every time I know I shouldn’t have it (especially if the meal includes a free drink, hello!), I still struggle and have it anyway. So that’s why one of my habits I want to develop this year is avoiding sweet tea.
Along with that, I want to avoid desserts and potatoes. I could eat a potato any way you make it, except sweet. (Isn’t that ironic but I like sweet tea and desserts but not sweet potatoes? Probably because they’re too healthy for me.) Anyway, I was not a dessert person until I met my husband, but now I feel like I have to have a little something sweet every time I have something salty. You see the issue. Thus…two more habits.
I definitely need to move more because of all this food that I love, so I’m making a small goal for myself in hopes that I will keep walking longer. I wrote it down as walking 10 minutes a day. My thought is that once I get halfway around the block in that ten minutes, I won’t just sit down in the road, but I will continue walking, ha ha.
Next, I want to drink enough water every day. My currently-chapped lips are just one sign of the fact that I live perpetually dehydrated. As a matter of fact, my husband Dusty once said he would call the cops on me for attempted suicide by dehydration. I replied that many teachers don’t get to drink water because they never have time to…well, you know.
Finally, I really need to buckle down and make sure I’m spending time with the Lord every day. That includes reading my Bible and praying, but I’m an intense kind of person when it matters. I don’t just want the little check off that I read five minutes. Or I threw some words God’s way. I want to really encounter Him every day. And if it takes me writing that down on the list to do it, I’m going to do what I have to do.
Creating Your Habit Tracker
So what about you? Do you have certain goals you’d like to track? Well if you do, I have good news. If you will watch my video below, you will learn how Excel online, a free tool, can be your perfect accountability partner. We will use conditional formatting, which is just a fancy way of saying that we will turn some of the cells green when we do them, and optionally, you can turn the ones red that you don’t do. The process is really easy, and you can have the whole sheet set up in ten minutes or less. What a great, quick accomplishment! So if you’d like to know how to do that, how to access your habit tracker on your phone, and even embed this habit tracker into a visual goal sheet on Sway, just click to play below.
 As always, I want to hear from you. It gets kind of lonely on the blog when I don’t know if anyone’s reading what I write. And the writing is kind of witty if I do say so myself 🙂 So do me a favor–leave a comment below if you’ve created and used the habit tracker. Even better, why don’t you share a link to yours so I can brag on you and be proud?
With Tech and Twang,
Suzy Signature Pink