Outlook 2007 Best Practices: Manage time with a daily review

By Melissa MacBeth

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.

It is considered best practice to set aside time every morning to manage your task list and your calendar. This includes:

  • Reviewing your appointments and meetings for the day and week ahead.
  • Reviewing your tasks and making adjustments.
  • Adding appointments to your calendar to make time to get your work done.
In this article


Saying no

As you review your calendar and your task list, be realistic about what you can accomplish. Sometimes that means saying no. Here are some ways to gain back time by saying no:

  • Decline meetings that you do not need to attend. Yes, you can do this.
  • Delete tasks that you don't need to do or that you know you will not do.
  • Send e-mail to let people know that you are working on a response (and be sure to flag it for yourself on send). It is better to let someone know that you will respond by a realistic date than have the person think that you forgot about the request.

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Calendar management

The reality is that if you have a day filled with meetings, you will have less time to complete tasks and write e-mail, so move tasks to other days. If a task is going to take a long time or if it is something you must do (as opposed to tasks you decide you do not need to do), drag it from the daily task list onto the calendar to block off time.

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Ways to create tasks

As you go through your calendar and tasks, inevitably you will start thinking of more things you need to do. Here are some ways to get tasks into Outlook 2007:

  • Flag the e-mail messages.
  • Type in the Type a new task box at the top of the task list.
  • Use the keyboard shortcut CTRL+SHIFT+K to create a new task.
  • If you are driving, use the voice memo function on your mobile device or mobile phone to record your tasks and transcribe them later into your To-Do List.
  • If you are in a meeting, take notes in Microsoft Office OneNote 2007. Flagged items in Office OneNote 2007 appear in the Outlook 2007 task list.

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Ways to manage tasks

Here are ways you can help yourself deal with your tasks:

  • Clean out tasks that you don't need to do. Your task list is your sacred space — do not let it get polluted, or its utility will be lost.
  • Mark completed tasks complete so that they are removed from the To-Do Bar.
  • Make your tasks more actionable by changing the task subject of a flagged message. For example, a flagged message with the subject line "Cannot change group membership via keyboard" should be renamed "Reply to Yasu," which is the next action for this task. To change the task subject, click the item in the To-Do Bar and type a new subject. This subject will not change the subject of the e-mail message, just the subject you see in your task list.
  • Apply categories to help you identify where you need to be to take the next step and to make some tasks stand out.
  • Rearrange your tasks to group together similar tasks, such as tasks with the same category. To move a task, click the task in the task list and drag it. In this way, you can work on similar tasks together.
  • Drag tasks in the Daily Task List and in the To-Do Bar to the day you plan to do the task. For tasks that will take some time, drag the tasks onto the calendar to set aside time to get these tasks done.

Although it is good to be organized, do not spend a lot of time prioritizing and managing your task list. The process of managing your task list shouldn't take over your life!

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Create appointments for managing your time

As part of good time management, you need time to deal with your e-mail, manage your appointments and tasks, and reflect on what you have to do.

You can schedule this time for yourself with regular appointments and meetings on your calendar. Your calendar should be treated as your real plan for your time — if you have scheduled it, then that is what you are committed to doing at that time.

Set aside time to:

  • Deal with your e-mail. This is especially important if you receive a lot of e-mail. Even if you have rules set up so that only the important messages appear in your Inbox, you still need time to deal with those messages.
  • Do a daily and weekly review of your tasks and appointments. Look at your calendar and tasks, and evaluate your appointments and tasks against your priorities.

If you have a busy calendar, this is the time for the following:

  • Clearing out conflicting appointments, because you can't be in two places at once.
  • Scheduling time to do work.
  • Reflecting on what you're doing, whether it's a valuable use of your time, and whether you're setting the right priorities.
  • Meet regularly with your manager. Regular meetings with your manager can help you explain what you are working on and reset priorities where needed. To set up a regular or recurring meeting, click the Recurrence button.

Recurrence option in Outlook 2007

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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