Outlook 2007 Best Practices: Do your work with the help of Tasks

This article is part of a series from Melissa MacBeth's Best practices for Outlook 2007.

 Note    For details on applying these principles, follow the links in the list and inline below to additional articles.

ShowSee links to the rest of the articles in this sequence.

In this article


Weekly review

Looking at the whole picture of your time and your tasks will help you to prioritize important work over less urgent tasks. It will help you to make it clear to others what can and cannot be realistically expected of you to accomplish. Reviewing your past week and upcoming week is also a useful way to help you prepare for a weekly meeting with your manager or help you prepare a status e-mail message.

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Where to do your work

Once you have processed your e-mail, the best place to do work in Outlook (reply to messages and so on) is in Tasks. By switching to Tasks, your view isn't distracted by messages arriving in your Inbox.

Tasks in Outlook 2007

Fig. 1  Tasks in the Navigation Pane

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Bulk-process your tasks

As you go through your task list and your calendar, do similar tasks together. For example, if you have only a few minutes, make all of your phone calls (if you have just a few). Tackle energy-intensive tasks (for some, that might be responding to e-mail) when you have more energy. Deal with your low-energy tasks, such as reading status e-mail messages, later in the day or whenever your energy is lower. By "bulk processing" your tasks, you will make progress on all of your projects at once.

One way to bulk process tasks is to change the arrangement from Arranged By: Start Date to Arranged By: Categories. To do this, click the Arranged By heading and then click Categories.

 Note    If you have tasks that are blocking other people from getting their work done, do those tasks first.

Categories menu in Outlook 2007

Fig. 2  Categories menu under Arranged By

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Finishing your tasks

As you finish your tasks, mark them complete. Outlook 2007 keeps the list of your completed tasks automatically. This can be a useful summary of what you've accomplished. If you don't need to keep a record of the task or the e-mail message, delete.

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Working offline

If you have a lot of work to do, consider going offline to stem the tide of incoming e-mail distractions.

 Note    You can continue to work in Outlook 2007 only if you are using Outlook 2007 in Cached Exchange Mode or working offline by using an online mode account.

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About the author

Melissa MacBeth photo Melissa MacBeth is a Lead Program Manager in the Office product group at Microsoft. She worked on several time management features for Outlook 2007, including the To-Do Bar, flags, flagging on send, and the Daily Task List. She lives in Seattle and enjoys gardening.

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Applies to:
Outlook 2007