Microsoft 365 Life Hacks > Organization > How to use Outlook’s task management features
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.
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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4 Ways to Turn Emails Into Tasks in Microsoft Outlook
If you’re looking for a way to be more productive, consider turning emails into tasks. Without manually copying and pasting all of the details you need, you can create a task from an email in Outlook. This guide shows you four options.
1. Drag an Email to Outlook Tasks
2. drag an email to tasks using extra options, 3. follow up on an email with a reminder, 4. set up a quick step to create a task from an email, frequently asked questions.
Drag-and-drop is a great way to move items quickly, and the same applies to turning emails into tasks in Outlook.
- Select the email in your inbox, drag it to the “Tasks” tab, and release.
- You’ll see the new task box appear with the subject of the email as the task name and the message within the body of the task.
- Complete the remaining fields, as desired, for the task. You can add start and due dates, set a priority, and pick a status. Select “Save & Close” on the top left when you finish.
You’ll see the task in your list in the “Tasks” tab and the email remains in your inbox.
If you want to create the task with the email as an attachment or move the email to your tasks instead of copying it, you can add an extra step to the above drag-and-drop option.
- Select the email in your inbox using your right mouse button, drag it to the “Tasks” tab, and release.
- You’ll see a small pop-up window with three options. You can copy the email to tasks with text or with an attachment or move it to the tasks with an attachment. Choose the action you want to take.
Like the simple drag-and-drop method earlier, you’ll see the new task window open, ready for you to complete any additional fields and save when you finish.
Maybe you don’t use Outlook Tasks for your to-dos. You can use the Follow-Up feature with a reminder to perform what you need on an email instead.
- Select the email in your inbox and head to the “Home” tab. If you have the message open in its own window, go to the “Message” tab. Open the “Follow Up” drop-down box in the Tags section of the ribbon.
- Select “Add Reminder” from the list. Alternatively, you can choose a time for the follow-up instead; however, this won’t automatically populate the reminder for you.
- In the Custom pop-up window, you’ll see the “Reminder” box checked at the bottom. Use the drop-down boxes beneath to choose the date and time for the reminder.
- You can also select the options at the top of the box if you would like. You can pick the type of flag, a start date, and a due date. When you finish, click “OK.”
- On the date and time you selected, you’ll receive an Outlook reminder for you to take the action connected to the email. You should also see emails you flag for follow up on the “Tasks” tab.
Note: you can also schedule emails in Outlook and set up automatic forwarding .
One more way to turn an email into a task in Outlook is using the Quick Steps feature. You can set up a Quick Step to create a task, then select that Quick Step or use a shortcut you assign to it.
- Go to the “Home” tab in Outlook and click the “More” arrow at the bottom of the Quick Steps box in that section of the ribbon or use the Quick Steps drop-down menu if your ribbon is condensed.
- Move to “New Quick Step” and select “Custom.”
- At the top of the Edit Quick Step window, give your new Quick Step a name.
- In the Actions section, open the drop-down list and go to the “Categories, Tasks, and Flags” section. Choose either “Create a task with attachment” or “Create a task with text of message.”
- If you want to assign a keyboard shortcut to the Quick Step, open the “Shortcut key” drop-down box near the bottom and pick the combination you want to use.
- Click “Finish” to save the Quick Step.
- The new Quick Step appears in the Quick Steps box on the “Home” tab. To use it, select an email in your inbox and click the Quick Step you set up to create a task or use the keyboard shortcut you assigned.
- When the new task box opens, complete the fields and save the task.
Can I convert flagged emails to tasks in Outlook?
When you use the Follow Up feature described above, you can convert those flagged emails to tasks in Microsoft To-Do if that’s your preferred task application. Be sure you’re signed in to Microsoft To-Do and Outlook with the same account.
Click the “To-Do” tab in Outlook and select the gear icon to view the settings. In the “Connected Apps” section, turn on the toggle for “Flagged email.” Use the “X” on the top right to close the settings, and you’ll see a folder for “Flagged email” in the list.
How do I convert an email to a task in the Outlook web application?
In Outlook on the Web, you can use the My Day feature to turn an email into a task.
Select the “My Day” button in the toolbar on the top right to open My Day. Drag the email from your inbox to the “To Do” tab or the “Add as a task” area.
Can I assign emails I turn into tasks?
When the new task box is opened using one of the above methods, select “Assign Task” on the “Task” tab. Enter the assignee’s name in the To field and click “Send” to assign them the task.
For a follow-up email, go to the “Tasks” tab, select the email task in the list. Use the “Assign Task” button on the “Task” tab, then send the task to the assignee.
Image credit: Pixabay . All screenshots by Sandy Writtenhouse.
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With her BS in Information Technology, Sandy worked for many years in the IT industry as a Project Manager, Department Manager, and PMO Lead. She wanted to help others learn how technology can enrich business and personal lives and has shared her suggestions and how-tos across thousands of articles.