Whether you're managing a small business, a home office, or a household, a well-organized schedule and punctual correspondence can save you time - and money. Microsoft's Entourage (800/426-9400, www.microsoft.com ), the expanded version of Outlook Express that's part of Microsoft's Office 2001 software suite ($499), is a complete personal information manager that can help keep you on top of even the most demanding agenda. You can combine its many features - E-mail, Address Book, Notes, Tasks, Calendar, and Reminders - to streamline your workflow and organize your life.
Say you're working on a project for a new - and demanding - client (we'll call him Mr. Acme of Acme Mortgage Company). He's changed your project's specifications three times and pushed your deadline up twice. Entourage's integrated information-management tools can help you get the project done exactly as he wants it - and exactly when he wants it. Our step-by-step demonstration of Entourage's abilities will help you put this program to work.
1. Create a New Address Book Entry A new client should have a new Address Book entry. Entourage allows you to create links between contacts' Address Book entries and their e-mail messages, and you can access Address Book contact information from within Word.
If Mr. Acme uses Entourage and has included a .vcf attachment A - a contact-information file compatible with contact managers - in his message to you, that file is his Address Book entry. Simply import it to Entourage's Address Book by opening the Address Book window B (command-2) and dragging the file from Mr. Acme's message into it.
The result is an entire Address Book entry for Mr. Acme C, complete with his address, e-mail, phone number, and photograph (if he's included it) - no typing required.
If Mr. Acme hasn't included a .vcf file, or if he's using a different e-mail program, just double-click on his name in the From line at the top of his message to create an address book entry for him.
2. Create Reminders If you need to remind yourself to reply to an important e-mail message, you can flag the message for follow-up. You can also create a recurring entry in Entourage's Calendar to remind you to work on a project.
Click on the flag icon A at the top of Mr. Acme's message, and choose Flag For Follow-up from the pull-down menu that appears. The result is a new task - simply defined, a to-do item - linked with Mr. Acme's e-mail message.
Enter the day you're supposed to e-mail your reply in the Due Date and Reminder fields B. An on-screen Reminders box will appear on that date, and the task will be visible in your calendar. Click on Save C. Click on the Link icon D and from the pop-up menu choose Link To New: Calendar Event E.
Make sure All Day Event is selected F and enter the current date G. Make the calendar event recur daily for a week by clicking on the Recurrence button H and then selecting the appropriate information in the window that appears. Save the event.
Your calendar (command-4) now shows the event - and you'll get a reminder every day until your deadline, whenever you open any Office application.
3. Link to Your Project Links can connect Entourage items to files in any application. In this case, we're linking a Calendar Event to a Word document.
In the Calendar window, click on the link icon in the calendar event, and choose Link To Existing: File A.
In the Link To File dialog box B, select your Word document.
Now all the pieces are linked together: Mr. Acme's e-mail message with the instructions you will need is linked to the task; the task is linked to the calendar event; and the calendar event is linked to the Word document. You can navigate easily among these linked items.
4. Get to Work When a Reminders box appears on your screen, simply use the links you've created to gather the elements you need to work on your project. There's no need to search through all of your files and e-mail messages.
When you see the Reminders box for the calendar event, click on Open Item A to open that calendar event's window.
To edit your Word document, click on the link icon, choose Files B, and select the file you want to work on.
To access Mr. Acme's original instructions for the project, which are in his e-mail message to you, click on the Link icon again and open the task from the Tasks menu C.
In the task's window, click on the link icon and choose Mr. Acme's original message from the Messages menu D.
5. Wrap It Up As you're working on your project within Word, you have direct access to Entourage's Address Book, making it easy to personalize your document without having to look up or retype contact information.
Start typing Mr. Acme's name. Word offers to autocomplete it for you, based on Entourage's Address Book entry. Press the tab key to accept.
If you've entered Acme's snail-mail address in your Address Book, you can add it to the letter just by control-clicking on his name and choosing it from the Contact menu A.
On the due date, the task's reminder to send Mr. Acme your project will appear B. Click on Open Item to open the task. In the task window, follow the message link to open Acme's message as you did in step 4.
In the message window, click on Reply (command-R). Type your reply, and then click on the paper-clip icon C (command-E) to attach your document.
Click on the Send Now button D, and you're all done.