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July 14, 2023

How to use Outlook’s task management features

You can use Outlook for more than just sending emails. Learn how you can use Outlook to help with task management.

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If you have a lot on your plate or are trying to get better at task management, Outlook is a great place to start. Whether you’re looking to manage personal tasks or work-related tasks, Outlook’s easy-to-use task management software can help. One of the benefits of using Outlook for task management is that all of your information is synced across devices, so you can check and manage your tasks from your laptop, phone, or wherever you are with an internet connection.

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Using Tasks in Outlook

The Tasks feature in Outlook makes it easy to manage your to-do list. Using Outlook’s task list is a great way to get a quick visual of what needs to be done that week. To create a task in Outlook:

  • Click New Items under the Home tab.
  • Select Task.
  • From here, a new window will pop up. Use the Subject line to title your task. For example, you could create the subject “Buy groceries.”
  • Set a start date and a due date for your task.
  • You can also set the current status of the task. Status options are available by clicking the dropdown. You can select Not Started, In Progress, Completed, Waiting on someone else, or Deferred.
  • You can also set a priority level for the task by selecting the dropdown. Priority levels can either be Normal, Low, or High.
  • The % Complete section allows you to update how far along you are with a task. When you change the % Complete, the status of the task will automatically update. For example, if you started a task at 0% complete, updating the task to 25% complete will change the status to In Progress.
  • Use the blank section of the task to type notes if needed.
  • Setting a reminder is a great way to stay on top of your tasks. To create an Outlook task reminder, select the Reminder checkbox, then choose the date you want to be alerted about the task. You can also choose a reminder time and the sound you want to play for the reminder.
  • Once you’re done creating your task, click the Save button.

Viewing your Outlook task list

Viewing your Outlook task list is easy. Just select the three dots at the bottom left corner of your Outlook window, then select Tasks. If you want to make it easier to find your task list, add the task list button to the top ribbon of Outlook. To add Tasks to your ribbon:

  • Right-click the ribbon.
  • Select Customize the Ribbon.
  • Select All Commands and scroll down to Tasks.
  • Choose Tasks, then select Add.
  • Select OK.

Outlook task management tips

Check out these tips to get the most out of Outlook tasks.

Add files to an Outlook task

You can add important files to your task. This can make it easier to find the right file when it’s time to tackle an item on your to-do list. To add a file to a task:

  • Open the Insert tab.
  • Select Attach File.
  • Choose the file you want to attach to your task.

Share tasks with others

If you’re working on a project with multiple people, you can share your Outlook task list with them. This can help keep everyone organized and aware of what’s going on. It can even minimize or eliminate back-and-forth messages since your friend or coworker can check the task list and status of the tasks on their own. To share your task list:

  • Open the Tasks menu.
  • In the top ribbon, select the Folder tab.
  • Next, select Share Tasks.
  • Enter the emails of the people you’d like to share the task with.
  • Check the box Allow recipient to view your tasks folder.
  • If you’d like, you can type a message to the recipient(s) about the task using the blank window.
  • Select Send.

Categorize your Outlook tasks

Categorizing your tasks can make it easier to visualize your to-do list. Luckily, there’s a Categories feature built into the Outlook task management software. To categorize your tasks:

  • Right-click the task you want to categorize.
  • Select Categorize.
  • Choose the color you want to use as the category or select All Categories if you’re looking for a different category color.
  • You can also rename your categories by selecting All Categories. Select the category that you want to rename, then choose Rename. For example, you can rename a category to “Home Improvement” or “Work Projects.” This will make it easier to associate the designated color with the task category.

Go through your task list each week

To avoid visual clutter and see your tasks that actually matter, it’s important to review your Outlook task list at the end of each week and update or remove completed tasks. It’s easy to forget to update the status of a task or mark an item as complete. Reviewing your task list will also make sure you didn’t forget to complete a task during the week.

Using Outlook’s task management features can help increase your organizational skills. Get more organization tips from Microsoft 365.

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