Be Your Future graphic showing a group of students working together on a group project.

We all know how vital emails are to us in this digital era. We have all faced times when finding the right email was a nightmare. I have faced it at university when finding the right document. In my first year of university, I struggled to manage my time around lectures, assignments, and focussed study time. This led to me feeling very stressed. On my journey to find a solution I came across the benefits of having a good email app such as Outlook. One to help manage your email, calendar, and contacts all in one place. So far, it’s the best solution I found.

An Outlook inbox

Use rules for your inbox

My life is so much more organised now I have rules for my inbox that separate my emails by different modules. The structured inbox helps me achieve a more systematic way to find emails and group assignment documents. This saves me manually searching through all the emails from someone.

Also, if you need to follow up on an email, Outlook offers flags of various colours that can be tied to emails if you need a friendly reminder. A shortcut folder called ‘Follow Up’ gathers links to all flagged messages to make them simple to locate. Additionally, if you want to make sure that you don’t miss out on a module leaders’ email, you can easily make them show up in the colour of your choice in your inbox. I have different colours assorted for different module leaders so I can instantly spot an important email.

With Outlook being my companion at university, I have been able to structure my day better; organising my time around lectures, assignments and focussed study time. I also list things I need to do on a certain day in the calendar, so I don’t forget them.

Trust me, having a calendar handy does wonders. Having all your lectures, engagements, and their locations together means you’ll never miss them. Furthermore, it’s a really good tool for people fighting anxiety as it helps them be more organised and productive. Nothing gives me more happiness at university than getting all my work done on time and being prepared for what’s to come.

An example of a colour coded calendar in Outlook

Colour coding calendars

I personally find having a colour coded calendar very useful. Apart from my regular lectures, I like to attend different sessions running at my university like careers fairs and guest speaker talks. Often, I book in additional time with my tutors, different society events, etc. Sometimes there is just so much going on that I forget what I’ve booked myself for or how much I was interested in attending them.

With a colour coded diary I mark my focused self-study time as red – essentially indicating ‘do not disturb’. Regular lectures are yellow, and important session such as career development or training in green. Things that I would like to attend if I have time are marked in blue, for example, a meet and greet session.

MyAnalytics shows focus hours and collaboration time

Use analytics to help you

An interesting thing about Outlook is that is gives me weekly analytics. It tells me how many hours I spent in collaborative activities vs how much focussed time I’ve had and compares it to previous weeks as well. It also tells which day I had the most focused time. The MyAnalytics tool can be turned on from your university administrator account. It really helps to get a better balance at work. It helps ensure I have a healthy work-life and supports my mental health.

Safe and secure

Security is something which is just not negotiable. It is also one of the biggest reasons why I am highly particular on what email account I use. With your emails containing documents like your assignments, images, or travel tickets you want to have all the control over it.  If I am storing a document or email which is important, I do not want it to get hacked easily or even the company to have the rights over my data. I like to have full control and rights over my own content. Outlook provides me all of that and gives me multiple security options like two-factor authentication.


All that said and done, do you know what is the best thing about Outlook? It’s is free for students! You can download Office 365 just by using your university email.

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About the author

Simran Verma is currently working at Microsoft on a year-long internship as an Azure Technical Solutions Professional whilst she studies Electronics and Computer Engineering at the University of Hertfordshire. During the short time she’s spent at Microsoft, she’s already learned a lot about Microsoft technology, particularly in the world of Cloud and AI which is core to her job role. Outside of work, she enjoys painting, dance, travelling and cooking. She feels highly privileged to be part of the Be Your Future intern team so they have a platform to write and share their stories and to make student life a little bit easier.