DynamicsCon is HERE! (almost)

The day I’ve been looking forward to since my last post is almost here. DynamicsCon starts next week September 20th – there are so many great presentations to check out (I heard a lot of rumors about this one in particular).

You can view all presentations on the DynamicsCon Agenda website. If you want to put them on your calendar, it is easy to download meeting invitations to specific presentations there.

If you’d like to track all the Finance and Operations presentations in a calendar view, I created a google calendar for that – you can access it from the google calendar link below.

Get the Google Calendar

Outlook Tip – Create a Rule for Meeting Responses

Juliet Awaits Romeo’s Outlook Meeting Invite Response | James Northcote | oil on canvas | c1790

While my preference in meeting sizes is to abide by the two-pizza rule, sometimes large meetings are necessary. After sending a large meeting invitation, the trickle of meeting responses to my inbox throughout the day becomes an unnecessary distraction.

My solution is to create a new folder for meeting responses, and a rule to sending all meeting responses to that folder. No more distracting inbox pings for every response, though I can see a summary of meeting response activity by looking at the unread messages flag on the folder. At my convenience, I can right-click on the folder and mark all as read if I don’t care about responses, or I can dig into the folder and have an easily filtered view of meeting responses received.

This rule is easy to setup in the Outlook Web App (Outlook.com)

Create Rule for Meeting Responses

Step 1: Create folder for meeting responses.

Step 2: Sign into Outlook.com, Click on settings, Search for rules, Select Inbox rules.

Step 3: Create rule name, Choose Type: Event response for condition, Choose Move to [created folder] for action.

Outlook Tip – Rules Rule!

Outlook rules are one of the oldest, most under-utilized productivity hacks in the business applications toolbox. They’re excellent for getting distractions out of your inbox.

Newsletters you only occasionally read? Make a rule to send them to their own folder!

System generated messages you never check? Mark them as read!

Let the computer do your work for you.

Today I want to share a set of rules I create when I start working with new customers to help me manage my inbox. But more generally, I just want to encourage you to use more Outlook rules.

Create Customer Category and Rules

When I start working with a new customer, I like to create an outlook category for that customer, and rules so that all customer-specific emails will be tagged with that category.
This works for me because I frequently work across multiple customer projects at the same time, though rarely more than a handful.

Create New Outlook Category

In the Tags group, Under the Categorize button, click All categories
Then click new, and create a category for the new customer

Create Outlook Rules

In the Move group, click on the rules button and select Create Rule
A rule to tag email from the customer.
A rule to tag email to the customer.
A rule to tag email that includes the customer’s name in the subject or body of the email.

OK, What’s the Big Deal?

Automatically categorizing email by customer visually organizes my inbox. I can quickly identify customer vs. internal emails, as well as recognize which customer they pertain to.

It also provides the same visual distinction when looking at meeting invites for the week.


How do you manage your email inbox? Do you use any practices or rules that are exceptionally effective? Let me know in the comments.

Outlook Tip – Time Blocker

Here’s a secret: I’m not great at planning my time.
Good news: A strategy I’ve found for dealing with this that has proven very successful.

Jesse J Anderson introduced me to a method he calls the Tactical Time Blocker, based on techniques in the book Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Everyday by Jake Napp and John Zeratsky.

Essentially, plan out your important tasks and schedule them at the start of your day. Then, track what you actually do during the day. At mid-day, revise your schedule based on what you still need to accomplish, new tasks that have come up, and revised priorities.

Jesse explains this better than me, as well as how he manages it on a sheet here:

I liked this format, but the sheet wasn’t working for me, so I recreated the experience in Outlook.

I created three new calendars, naming them Planned, Actual, and Revised.

In the Folder tab of the Outlook Calendar form, you can create a New Blank Calendar

I grouped them together to make them easier to manage

Right click on the calendars area, and they can be organized in a New Calendar Group

I made a Day view in the calendar section aligning my Work calendar with my Planned, Actual, and Revised calendars.

I also pinned my tasks in the todo bar on the right.

My Tactical Time Blocker workspace in Outlook

I like this approach for a few reasons:

  • At the start of each day, I fill my planned calendar for the day – transferring my work meeting first, and then figuring where I will insert time for the work tasks that I need to accomplish.
  • Outlook’s “current time” bar sliding down the calendar is a great reminder for me to keep my Actual calendar updated during the workday.
  • Having multiple calendars allows me to block out my day, while still giving colleagues visibility to actual availability in my work calendar (which is shared with them).
  • I can view and add to these multiple calendars from the Outlook mobile app (which works great with Siri for appointment scheduling, btw)
  • Maintaining my actual calendar facilitates easy time entry at the end of the day.

Do you have any good time management strategies that work for you? Do you think this will be helpful to you? Let me now in the comments.

Also, if you prefer the paper version of this technique, Jesse’s printable version is available for download on Gumroad.

FastTabs in D365 Finance

FastTabs are blocks in D365 forms that can be expanded or collapsed. Like a filing cabinet or library card catalog (remember card catalogs?), FastTabs allow lots of information to be compressed into a tiny space and opened for access when needed.

Below are some tips for navigating FastTabs in D365 Finance:

Personalization and Saved Views

If you routinely need access to certain field positioned lower on a form, the Move personalization feature can be used to move the more utilized field into a more prominent FastTab, or even to move an entire FastTab higher on the form.

Right-click and select personalize on a field and you can also select Show in Header, which will display that field attribute on the right side of the FastTab whether the FastTab is expanded or collapsed.

Expand All

If you are looking for a field on a form, but unsure which FastTab it is filed under, Expand all can be your friend. Right-clicking on the fasttab header gives you the option to Expand all FastTabs on the form. Used in conjunction with Ctrl+F, this can be a powerful method to quickly find the field you are searching for.

Less Words, Moar Video

I made a quick video of this. Let me know if this is helpful, and whether you’d like me to make more videos like this.

DynamicsCon Is Coming!

DynamicsCon is just 2 weeks away, happening March 16-18.

What is DynamicsCon?

DynamicsCon is the #1 Free, Virtual, Super-hero themed D365 conference in the world. Over three days, Microsoft Dynamics & Power Platform professionals across the globe will connect to learn, share ideas, and develop new skills.

I’m excited to participate in DynamicsCon, presenting a session of my own on Tuesday the 16th (Saved Views, Custom Fields & Developer-less Developments).

Why am I participating in DynamicsCon?

There are three reasons why I am participating in DynamicsCon:

  • Community – The D365 community is great. It is fun to meet and interact with the other D365 and Power Platform professionals. I’m grateful to the others who have helped me learn and apply new technologies and I’d like to be a part of improving the experiences of others.
  • Video – I have written on this blog for a couple years, but video is a new medium for me. DynamicsCon presentations involve 40 minutes of recorded video – committing to present stretched me out of my comfort zone, but this is a good thing. I hope to create more video content in the future.
  • Fun – DynamicsCon is fun. Just look at the super-awesome super-hero masks they made for Calvin and me! And don’t just take my word for it – check out this avid endorsement from Grammy award winning musical artist Kenny G

Why should you participate in DynamicsCon?

If you are a super-hero and/or Kenny G fan, I think the reasoning is self-evident. It is a harder sell if you are not, but the value is still there. DynamicsCon is a great opportunity to meet new people and learn new things around Microsoft’s D365 and Power Platform technologies. Even if you are unable attend the live event, it is worth signing up and watching the recordings afterwards.

Also, did I mention it’s FREE?!?

REGISTER HERE: DynamicsCon | Sign-up

My Favorite PDF Reader is Word

Long Live Clippy – Forever in our Hearts

I don’t know who needs to hear this, but Word is my favorite PDF reader.


Microsoft Edge?

Standard Windows 10 ships with Microsoft Edge as the default PDF reader. It’s nice not having to purchase or download extra PDF reading software, but for me reading a PDF in a web browser does leave something to be desired. First, it’s difficult to markup or edit a PDF in a web browser. Second, I don’t like getting the PDF I’m reading mixed in with all my other open tabs. Third…actually I don’t really have a third – two strikes is enough.

Usually, I read PDFs because they are documents sent to me from a colleague or a customer. I want my open documents grouped with my other open documents (WORD documents), not my endless supply of browser windows.

Make Word Default PDF Reader!

This is actually pretty simple. If you right-click on a PDF, you can choose how to open the file. If word doesn’t appear as an option, you can select choose another app.

From the choose another app screen, if Word does not appear you can find it by clicking more apps. Once selected, you can mark Always use this app to open ..pdf files to set Word as the Default.

As you can see below, setting Word as the default PDF reader creates a slightly different document icon to distinguish between .doc word documents and .pdf PDF documents, though both will be opened in the Word application.

Opening the PDF in Word has the same look and feel of opening a standard word document. As a user, you can make comments or edits like working with a Word document and then save those additions as a new document.

Apparently this functionality has been available since Word 2013. I’m just seven years late to the party. Better late than never, right?

Pin D365 Finance Workspaces to Your Taskbar

On the topic of Hunter Bars, a somber farewell to The Big Hunt in Washington DC.

Longtime readers of this blog know I’m a big fan of Workspaces. I’m such a fan, I gave an entire Workspace Presentation at last year’s User Group Summit.


Why Workspaces?

Here is my pitch for Workspaces:

If bookmarking the D365 Default Dashboard, in order to perform an action you need to 1) Open your browser 2) Go to D365 Default Dashboard and then 3) Goto the D365 form where you will perform your action.

(eg yourcompanyd365url.operations.dynamics.com/),

Bookmarking specific workspaces, utilizing the workspace’s tiles, listpages and links gets you straight to the action you want to perform. Your steps are now 1) Open your browser and 2) Go to the D365 form where you will perform your action.

(eg yourcompanyd365url.operations.dynamics.com/?mi=VendInvoiceWorkspace),

Default Dashboard

Vendor invoice entry workspace


Why Pin Workspaces to Taskbar?

Advancing this concept, Edge makes it easy to pin a workspace to your taskbar. If I click on the purple finance and operations logo on the far right of my taskbar, the vendor invoice entry workspace opens immediately.

The steps are now 1) Go to the D365 form where you want to perform your action and 2)…profit!


How to Pin Workspace to Taskbar

The Edge browser makes this easy. Go to your desired workspace and click the ellipsis on the top right of the Edge Browser. Select more tools, and then click pin to taskbar,

Pin Vendor invoice entry workspace to taskbar


Advanced Concepts

Limited navigation

If you add “&limitednav=true” to the end of your workspace URL, the menu item on the left disappears (zoom into the two Vendor invoice entry workspace screenshots above and look at the urls to see the difference). This gives you a few more pixels to work with (a small benefit), but also cuts down on distractions in the workspace (a larger benefit, possibly).

I like using this limited navigation with the pinned workspace because makes the D365 workspace feel more like a desktop application.

Change Icon

If you hold shift and click on the pinned shortcut in your taskbar, you can select properties to change the icon (the pinned website’s favicon is the shortcut’s default icon). This can be helpful if you want to pin multiple shortcuts to your taskbar and easily distinguish between them. The new icon image must be in .ico format – fortunately there are multiple sites that make it easy to convert standard jpg or png images to ico.


Happy Hunting…


Get Your Free Trial of Dynamics 365

Microsoft has made it simple to to spin up your own 30-day trial environment of D365.
Many thanks to Rick, friend-of-the-blog, for walking me through the steps.

– Trials.Dynamics.com –

Goto https://trials.dynamics.com, click on desired D365 product and provide work email/phone number.

You currently have the ability to startup a trial of D365 Sales, Customer Service, Field Service, Project Service Automation, Business Central, Human Resources, Retail, and (of course) Finance and Operations.

Agree to the terms and conditions, and decide whether or not to opt into marketing messaging.

Kudos to the restraint of the marketing team leaving the opt-in checkbox unselected by default. If your organization belongs to a Microsoft 365 tenant, you can proceed straight to spinning up your trial environment. The process may take up to 30 minutes from here. If your organization does not have a Microsoft 365 tenant, there will be a few more steps.

Once the environment is created, you will receive an email from Lifecycle Services.

The “Click here to start” link will take you to your new trial environment.

The environment will come preconfigured with D365’s legendary Contoso default data. Congratulations! You are now the proud owner user of a 30-day trial environment. Have any questions about what to do from here? Ping me in the comments:)