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

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.

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.

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 don’t 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 messages to let people know that you are working on a response (and make 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.

Calendar management

The reality is that if you have a day filled with meetings, you have less time to complete tasks and write messages, 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 don’t need to do), block off time on your calendar.

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 Create, edit, or delete tasks in Outlook:

  • Flag the message.

  • In the ribbon, click New and then click Task to create a new task.

  • If you are driving, and it is legal and safe to do so, use the voice memo function on your mobile device or mobile phone to record your tasks and transcribe them later into your Task List.

Ways to manage tasks

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

  • Add tasks as they come to you by clicking New and then Tasks in the ribbon.

  • Clean out tasks that you don't need to do. Your task list is your sacred space — don’t let it get polluted, or its utility will be lost. For flagged messages that you want to keep, click Clear Flag, otherwise, just Delete.

  • Mark completed tasks complete so that they are removed from the Tasks list.

  • Make tasks more actionable by changing the task subject. For example, a task with the subject line Cannot change group membership via keyboard should be renamed Reply to Ryan, which is the next action for this task. To change the task subject, double-click the task, and then type a new subject.

  • Categorize an item 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. In this way, you can work on similar tasks together.

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

Create appointments for managing your time

Remember: There is always more to do than time to do it.

As part of good time management, you need time to deal with your messages, 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 messages. Setting aside time to deal with messages is especially important if you receive a lot of messages. 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.

    Tip: When processing and reading your messages, remove visual clutter by minimizing the navigation pane and ribbon.

  • 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:

    1. Clearing out conflicting appointments, because you can't be in two places at once.

    2. Scheduling time to do work.

    3. Reflecting on what you're doing, whether it's a valuable use of your time, and whether you're setting the right priorities.

    4. 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 recurring meeting, click Recurrence .

    Task tab, Recurrence

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: Do your work with the help of Tasks

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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