Microsoft Outlook has become an essential business tool in the years since I covered its first prerelease versions in 1996. If you work in a company that employs more than a dozen people, it’s virtually certain that most of your communications and time planning will take place in Microsoft Outlook. Knowing Outlook well can make you more successful at work. Whether you’re taking directions from your boss, giving directions to your employees, organizing meetings, collaborating on important projects, or just keeping up with business, Outlook is what you’ll use to get it done fast.

Not understanding Outlook is almost like not understanding how to get to work. Because Outlook is so popular, hundreds of millions of people now spend their entire workday using Outlook one way or another. Now that more companies encourage telecommuting and hire employees who work from home, Outlook is the virtual workplace of so many people.

I’ve had the pleasure of training literally thousands of people on all the different ways Outlook can improve their workflow and simplify their life. People are often surprised to discover how much faster they can work when they know to use Outlook effectively.

Microsoft Outlook was designed to make organizing your daily work blindingly easy — almost automatic. You already have sophisticated programs for word processing and number crunching, but Outlook pulls together everything you need to know about your daily tasks, appointments, e-mail messages, ...

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