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Stop feeding me toast!

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More on the tasty topic of toast...

My advice is to switch off desktop alerts ('toasts') for all but your most important messages. Having toasts appear without warning on your screen can be really distracting and you rarely need to respond to an email the second it arrives.

But toasts can be really useful in drawing your attention to something really important.

So here's how I work. I have switched off all the alert types that Outlook 2003 offers each time a new email arrives, except for emails that are marked urgent or from someone important like my boss or my boss's boss.

To do this follow these simple steps:

  1. Tools
  2. Options
  3. Email Options (in Preferences tab)
  4. Advanced E-mail Options
  5. Then deselect everything in the second section headed 'When new items arrive in my Inbox'

While you're there you can also adjust the desktop alert duration and transparency by clicking the Desktop Alert Settings button. If you need a longer duration see my blog entry here.

Now, hit OK until you're back to the main Outlook window in the Mail view (CTRL-1 or just click the little envelope called Mail) and create a new rule:

  1. Tools
  2. Rules and Alerts
  3. New Rule
  4. Click Start from a blank rule then Check messages when they arrive
  5. Hit Next
  6. Select the conditions for emails for which you would like to see a desktop alert. For example, 'from [my boss]' or 'marked as importance high'
  7. Hit Next
  8. Select the 'Display a Desktop Alert' action
  9. Hit Next
  10. Add any exceptions to your rule. For example, 'except where my name is in the Cc box' or 'except if it is an Out of Office message'
  11. Hit Next
  12. Give your rule a name like 'My Important Email Alerts' and hit Finish

Hurrah! From now on you'll only see a desktop alert when something important arrives. This means fewer distractions during your working day and a much lower risk of your missing the arrival of a really important email.

If you're interested in other Outlook productivity tips like this check out some of my blogcasts here.

 

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