Taming the Inbox: Outlook Tasks

An unfortunate feature of modern life is a deluge of emails. Many emails require actions. However, it is easy for emails that require action to be lost in the black-hole of an inbox or mail folder.

A nice way to keep track of emails and actions is to use Outlook Tasks.

Generating a Task from an Email

When you get an email that requires an action right click on the email. Go down to “QuickSteps” and see if you have an “Assign as Task” option (or something similar).

If you do not have an “Assign as Task” QuickStep, create it using the following steps:
1) Right click – select “QuickSteps” – select “Create New”;
2) Name the QuickStep “Assign as Task” and select “Create a task with attachment” from the “Choose an Action” dropdown list; and
3) Click Finish.

Once you have an “Assign as Task” option, click it to convert the email into a task. If you have Remember the Milk you can then use “MilkSync” to sync the task to your todo list.

Assigning Tasks

You can also assign Tasks to other people. When the Task screen appears select “Assign Task” in the top tool bar / ribbon.

You can then type in an email address of a colleague, set a due date, a priority level and some text explaining the required action.

When you click “Send” the task is received and added to the recipient’s list of tasks. The original email is included as an attachment for reference.

The advantages to this are:
1) the recipient can keep track of the task (rather than have it drown in a sea of email);
2) the recipient has your instructions and the original email; and
3) the recipient knows how urgent the task is and can order by due date.

This can help a lot when organising team projects. (Or at least where Trello and RTM are a little too “early adopter” :.)

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