A very handy feature in Outlook is the ability to flag E-mail messages and it kind of turns your E-mail messages into another type of To-Do list. You can flag messages you've already received giving yourself some input as to what you're supposed to do with those messages and you can also flag messages you're sending to tell the recipient what you expect of them in terms of your message and its contents or any attachments. Now I'm going to click here, I'm going to select a message. You don't need to open the message in its own window or anything, you can just select it right here in the list of messages and then we click the Follow Up button here on the Home tab. Now first our choices are flag it for when? For Today, Tomorrow, This Week, Next Week, No particular Date, or Custom. When you choose Custom you'll also get to specify when the Follow Up behavior should be performed. You can Add a Reminder, you can Mark a flag Complete, meaning you've done what it was flagged to do, or you could Clear an existing Flag. Now this would be available in this menu if this item were flagged. So, for example, if I click on this message that already has a flag, Clear Flag is available. You can also choose Set Quick Click and we'll learn about Quick Click settings in another lesson. So let me go back to a message that is not currently flagged and I'm going to choose Follow Up, Custom so you can see all the different logistics behind setting up a flag. So, here we're flagging a reminder for me to follow up on this message. Now, Follow up is the default. I could also mark it as a For Your Information, something I need to Forward, something I don't need to respond to, something I should Read - hopefully you read all your E-mail - something I should Reply to, something I should Reply to All to, something I should Review, say an attachment or something like that or maybe the E-mail message contains actual data and information as opposed to just a message. I'm going to choose Reply and then I can specify when the reply would need to take place. Now I'm going to imagine that the person who sent me this message is on vacation until Monday the 19th so I'm going to stave off my reply until then. Now I could set the Start date say for Friday the 16th and then say that I need to send it by the 19th so if this was a complex message that required an attachment or lots of information that I might have to research, I'd be giving myself Friday and maybe even over the weekend to get it all ready and know that I'm going to send it the day he comes back from vacation. I can set a Reminder. Obviously, the 19th would be a good day and I can choose any time of day. I'm going to set this for Noon. I can then click the Alarm button here, this little reminder button and choose what sound I want to play when the reminder is due. I'll click OK, that reminder sound is just fine. Now I can Clear the Flag if I want or I can just click OK or, of course, Cancel which just bags the whole thing. You would click Clear Flag if you had opened this for an existing flag. I'm going to click OK and set this flag. And now you see the Flag listed here next to the message. Now it says Click to mark complete, or Right-click for all options. If I click this, that indicates I sent the reply. If I right-click it, if I right-click it I can choose to mark it not complete. Maybe I marked it complete by mistake, and then it goes back to being flagged, or I can choose Custom again and go back in and make any changes I want. I'm going to Cancel out of there and I will set this back to Flagged and not complete. Now another thing you can do with Flags is flag your outgoing messages. So, for example, if I hit New E-mail I can address the message. I love this auto-complete where it guesses who I want to write to based on the first few things I type. And I put in my Subject: Staff meeting, Don't forget the staff meeting on Tuesday. Let me know if you need anything to get you caught up after your vacation. Thanks, Laurie. Now, at this point I could, of course, mark the message High Importance, this is another type of flag essentially. Now be careful with this. Don't mark all your messages High Importance because sooner or later it's like crying wolf. People stop paying attention to that. Or you could choose Low Importance but that pretty much guarantees people aren't going to read your message, certainly not early in the list when they have a lot to look through. If you click it that's all you have to do. It marks it as High Importance or Low Importance or you can toggle them off so that you have no importance set in particular. That's what you're going to do for most messages if you're wise. Now, Follow Up, getting back to the subject at hand, I can choose again Today, Tomorrow, This Week, Next Week, No particular Date, I can add a Reminder. I'm just going to hit Custom here though, that's the best way to get at all the parts. Now notice that this version of the Custom dialog box is broken into two parts: Flag for Me, Flag for Recipients. I'm going to turn on both. Now I'm going to flag it for me, this outgoing message, I'm going to leave it as a For Your Information, and I'm going to tell it, myself, to check on it on the 19th and I'm going to set a Reminder for the 19th by say 2 PM that he should have gotten back to me by 2 on July 19th. Now for the Recipient, since I turned this option on I can flag it for him so that the recipient is told what I'd like him to do. He needs to reply and he needs to get a Reminder to reply on the 19th and we'll say at, well, let's make it 10 AM. Give him an hour to have his coffee on his first day back after his vacation and then I can click OK. So just to summarize what I've done is I flagged my own activity pertaining to this outgoing message which will soon become a Sent Item and I've flagged for the recipient. Now bear in mind, flags for the recipient only work, as do the Importance setting options here, they only work if your recipient is using Outlook. If they're using some other E-mail software this won't translate, but if they're a fellow Outlook user they'll get all this information with their message. So when I click OK notice at the top of the message it says: After this message is sent, it will be flagged for you with the following information: For Your Information. Starting Monday, July 19th, 2010. Due Monday, July 19th. Reminder: Monday, July 19th. Recipients receive and so forth. So it summarizes the flagging and at this point if I hit Send the message will go out, will go to John Doe and tell him what I expect him to do with the message I have sent.
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