Outlook Tip – Calendar Timesheet Entry: Dismiss Reminders For Past Events

Outlook Calendar Timesheet Entry

After years of struggling with timely timesheet entry, I finally found a time entry process that works for me.

(Hello all my former managers! Thanks for subscribing!)

Throughout the day, I enter my time as Outlook events, using a different Outlook Calendar for each customer. At the end of the week, I then transfer those entries into my actual timekeeping system.

My Outlook Calendar ends up looking something like this

Is this the most efficient way to enter time? Well, probably not.

But it does have some advantages:
1) My meetings are already on my Outlook calendar.
2) I’m in Outlook throughout the day, so the friction of switching applications is reduced.

Don’t let Perfect be the enemy of Good. Find a process/system that works for you.

Automatically Dismiss Reminders For Past Events

One issue I had with this system is that entering a past time-tracking event into my Outlook calendar, would trigger a reminder message. But I don’t want a reminder notification…the event entry itself is the reminder for my end of the week timekeeping process.

This is less than desirable. Fortunately, there’s a fix!

In Outlook, click File (top left) then goto Options (Options will be on the bottom left).
In Outlook Options, goto Advanced, and then select Automatically dismiss reminders for past calendar events.

Problem solved. No more retroactive reminder reminders­čśŐ

Why Edge Is My Preferred D365 Browser

My favorite Chrome shortcut for D365:

Ctrl+F to find menu item
Ctrl+Enter to click on found menu item

My favorite Edge shortcut for D365:

Ctrl+Shift+K to duplicate tab
(great for looking up multiple records at same time)

What I just learned in Edge for D365

Ctrl+F to find menu item (duh)
Esc, Enter to click on found menu item (ooohhh…)

Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.

Manage Multiple Accounts with Browser Profiles

A small note for anyone who needs to hear it:
If you regularly switch between accounts on the same online services, consider using different browser profiles for your desktop.

Each browser profile will save your cookies and login details separately. This will reduce the hassle of having to regularly sign out of account A to login to account B, or opening an incognito browser and manually re-signing into account B every time you need to do something there.

Some Use Cases:

  • Switching between Microsoft accounts in different Tenants
  • Switching between a standard D365 account and a test user account.
  • Switching between multiple Gmail accounts.
  • Switching between your Insta and Finsta accounts.
  • Switching from your Twitter main to your burner account to dunk on people who think that Kevin Durant is not as great at basketball as Steph Curry (@KDTrey5 – HMU!)

How To Create Browser Profiles

The process is roughly the same in Edge or Chrome. Click on the circle in the upper right, you can then toggle between existing profiles or create a new profile.

Personalize your Profiles

In your browser settings (click here for Chrome browser settings | click here for Edge browser settings) you can choose unique icons to distinguish your profiles. You can also adjust the appearance (the color of the browser border) to help you easily recognize which browser profile you are using.

Update Profile Icon in Edge
Update Profile Appearance in Edge

Pin Browser Profile to Taskbar

This is my favorite feature of using browser profiles. If you have browser windows open for two different profiles, you will notice that there will be two different browser icons in your. Right-click on a particular browser icon and you can pin that browser profile to your taskbar.

Now, the next time you want to work under that profile, you can get there directly from the taskbar icon.

Pin Browser Profile to Taskbar.

Additional Resources

Chrome Tip – Search Open Tabs

Do you compulsively open new tabs, then leave them open forever because “you might need that later”? Is the top of your browser just a bunch of tiny icons without any context? This shortcut might be for you.

CTRL+Shift+A in Chrome allows you to search your open browser tabs. Recently closed tabs are also visible at the bottom of the list.

Use CTRL+Shift+A to search open tabs

This is probably also a good time to mention that CTRL+W can be used to close your tabs, and CTRL+Shift+T can be used to reopen the most recently closed tab.

And my favorite Chrome shortcut, CTRL+F can be used to search for a term on a webpage, while CRTRL+Enter can be used to click on the found text if it is a hyperlink (this is especially helpful if you are using cloud software like Dynamics 365).


Fun fact: the upper limit on open chrome tabs is around 10,000 tabs.

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.

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…