Outlook for Mac 2011 Best Practices: Do your work with the help of Tasks

This article is part of a series Best practices for Outlook for Mac 2011. To learn about the specific parts in the series, refer to the See also links at the bottom of the page.

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 email message.

Where to do your work

After you have processed your messages, the best place to do work in Outlook (reply to messages and so on) is in Tasks. By switching to Tasks, you won’t be distracted by messages arriving in your Inbox.

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 messages) when you have more energy. Deal with your low-energy tasks, such as reading status 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 simultaneously.

One way to bulk process tasks is to change the arrangement from Start Date to Categories. To do this, click the Categories column heading.

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

Finishing your tasks

As you finish your tasks, mark them complete. Outlook for Mac 2011 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 message, delete it or clear the flag.

Task, Mark Complete

Working offline

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

When you switch between working online and offline, all email accounts within your Outlook profile are changed.

  • On the Outlook menu, click Work Offline.

The Online Mode toggle on the Tools ribbon shows that you are working offline.

Tools tab, Offline Mode

Click the Online Mode toggle to return to Online mode.

See also

Outlook for Mac 2011 Best Practices: Good time management

Outlook for Mac 2011 Best Practices: Set up Outlook to work for you

Outlook for Mac 2011 Best Practices: Tame your Inbox with the 4 D’s

Outlook for Mac 2011 Best Practices: Manage time with a daily review

Outlook for Mac 2011 Best Practices: Find that message!

Outlook for Mac 2011 Best Practices: Write great e-mail

Outlook for Mac 2011 Best Practices: Calendars and meetings

Outlook for Mac 2011 Best Practices: Frequently asked questions

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