Many users of Microsoft Outlook save their Sent Items folder as a way of tracking important outgoing email messages. Unfortunately, most Outlook users don't know that Outlook has a much better tool for tracking communications called the Journal. The Journal can track email messages, meetings, tasks, phone calls, FAX, meeting notes, and files from Excel, Access, PowerPoint, and Microsoft Word. This tool tracks communications and activities with specific users on a timeline with each entry linked to the tracked element. For example, if you send an email to John Hopkins on January 14th, it will be recorded in the Journal. In the event that you need to locate this email message, you can search for it in the Journal, confirm that it was sent, and open the email message to review its content. The Journal is an easy to use and highly effective way to track your communications with co-workers, supervisors, clients, or customers. The Journal Options dialog box is shown below.
Journal Options dialog box in Microsoft Outlook
In addition to automatic entries referenced in the about dialog box, users can create Journal entries manually to track many additional Outlook elements including conversations, non-Mocrosoft documents, notes, phone calls, remote sessions, and tasks. There is even a timer available to track the length of time for an activity which may be of interest to those of you who bill for time. For example, you can enter a phone conversation into the Journal manually, turn on the timer and take notes during the call. The Journal entry will contain a record of the phone call along with the time, date, contents, and length of the call. The dialog box below shows how a phone call can be tracked as a Journal Entry.
Journal Entry dialog box in Microsoft Outlook
Following are instructions on how to activate and use the Journal in Microsoft Outlook. Additional guidance is available in the help system in Outlook.
How Record Items and Files Automatically in the Journal
- Click the File tab.
- Click Options.
- Click Notes and Journal.
- Click Journal Options.
- In the Automatically record these items list, select the check boxes for the items that you want recorded automatically in Journal.
- In the For these contacts list, select the check boxes for the contacts whose items you want recorded automatically.
- In the Also record files from box, select the check boxes next to the programs from which you want to automatically record files in Journal.
How to Record an Outlook Item Manually in the Journal
- From any module in Outlook, on the Home tab, in the New group, click New Items, point to Other, and then click Journal Entry.
- In the Subject box, type a description.
- In the Entry type box, click the type of journal entry that you are recording.
- Select other options that you want.
Record a File from Outside of Outlook Manually
- Locate the file that you want to record. You can use Outlook, Windows Explorer or the desktop.
- Drag the items to Journal.
- Select the options that you want for the journal entry.
Record the Date and Time you Worked with a Contact
- Open the contact.
- On the Contact tab, in the Communicate group, click More, and then click Journal Entry.
- The current date and time appear in the Journal item header. To change the date or time, click the arrow attached to each box, and then click the selection you want.
- To document the exact start and end time, on the Journal Entry tab, in the Timer group, click Start Timer. The Journal item records the date and length of time that you worked with the contact. Click Pause Timer to stop the clock.
- Click Save & Close on the Actions tab to record the information into your Journal.
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