Is your calendar the best place to manage all of your to-dos?
Can you turn Microsoft Outlook into an even better productivity tool?
Well, in this post, I want to show you how to manage all of your tasks using the calendar area within Microsoft Outlook.
Today, I’m going to show you how to set up your calendar in Microsoft Outlook to be a very effective to-do list. I’m also going to show you how this works and how this looks like within the Outlook mobile app.
And last, but not least, I’m going to show you both the advantages and the disadvantages of using your to-do list in this manner.
But I think what you’re going to find out is that the pros far outweigh the cons. So, let’s dive in.
How to Use Outlook Calendar Effectively
Let’s get started here within our Outlook calendar.
And no, we’re not talking about the Tasks area. Yes, of course, Outlook has tasks built right into it. But I find for many people, it’s a little clunky.
People don’t enjoy managing their tasks experience here. And yes, you can change a few different views and that type of thing.
But we want to focus on the calendar, why? Because this is probably where you are spending a great part of your day.
You’ve got so many different appointments and commitments that you need to know where you need to be.
So why don’t we put our tasks here as well, so we don’t forget where we should be putting our attention.
One of the biggest problems with using it to-do list manager outside of our calendar is that we have to switch back and forth, we have to remember to open up another tab or open up another application.
So, what’s happening here? Well, what I’m doing is I’m using the all-day event area. And you may be using this area already, right?
If you want to block out an all-day event or a holiday, or a birthday, or maybe a day that you’re going to be away from work.
But I find what makes this area so much more powerful is if we put in our tasks. So, here you can see I’ve got a number of tasks here on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.
And the great thing is, is that as I scroll up and down, no matter where I am within my day, those tasks will always remain front and center.
So, it’s hard to get rid of them, right? I can’t ignore them when I’ve put my to-do list here at the very top of the list.
The other great thing about this setup is that you can see the relationship between your tasks and the other commitments, the other things that you have to do as a part of the day. Let me give you an example.
How many times have you been using a to-do list app and you get near the end of the day and you just say, I haven’t gotten to these three things, so I better just defer them all, let’s just defer all of these three things till the next day, right?
Also Learn How to Export Outlook Calendar
That’s just sort of the default. In fact, many of our to-do list apps make it easy to defer a large number of to-dos. I’ve got to do this task today because I can see the relationship here.
Here’s another good example. Maybe I get to the end of my Wednesday and I say, you know what, I just don’t have enough time for these things, I better just defer this one, prepare these HR interview questions.
I know that the interview is not till Friday, so I’ll just put it to you on Thursday. Wait a minute, I’m going to be involved in a very intensive all-day conference downtown.
I don’t think I’m going to have time to prepare these particular interview questions. So no, I’d have to keep that one there on Wednesday, so I can be ready for this interview which is happening on Friday, seeing that relationship between the individual tasks and to-dos and your meeting appointments can be so valuable in making sure that you’re not just deferring things aimlessly, that you’re doing the things that you should be doing to prepare for certain meetings and certain events.
So how do you use this all-day event area? Well, you can do it in one of two ways. You can double click on this area, of course, to open up a new tab here and let’s just call this one new task. And by default, when you click on the all-day event area, it’s going to make it an all-day event.
I’m just going to turn off the reminder here, but you can adjust these reminders as need be, and I’m going to Save and Close. So, there we go, I’ve got a new task here. Now a couple of things that you may want to do.
I’m going to open this one back up is that you may want to give it a particular color, for example. Maybe you want to give all of your tasks an orange color, just to set them apart from your actual meetings and your actual appointments, that is absolutely fine.
Another thing that you can do with these colors, because I know for some people, it’s important that you check things off, so what you can do is you could specify, you could create one of these categories or one of these labels to say that blue means it’s checked off, right?
So maybe when things are finished, they turn to blue. And so, you want to turn everything that you have listed up here from green to blue in this example.
Your last option that you have here would be just to simply delete it, in fact actually, that’s my personal preference, I never feel the need to keep my tasks around. So, once I’ve completed a particular task, I just delete it.
My goal at the end of the day is to get all of these tasks done and cleared out as a part of my day. Now the other way that you can add a new task here is just to click on the New Appointment area here.
And again, by default, it’s going to make it an all-day event. Once again, in this example, I’m just going to turn off the Non-Reminder, you can actually change this default if you want to. I also want to point out that an all-day event, by default, is going to show up as free.
So, it’s not going to block out your time, you don’t have to worry that this is going to make yourself unavailable for appointments or other people to add you to a particular appointment.
So, let’s say this is another new task that I’m going to add here, I’m going to keep this one on Wednesday, but I can change the date here.
You can also use all of this area down below to add notes, you can add attachments, you can add true formatting here down below.
So, if you want to add further details like a meeting agenda, or those interview notes that I mentioned earlier, you can do that all here as well.
In fact, if I open up that interview question, and I think I added a note here, yeah, don’t forget to ask them about this security question or policy changes, it’s going to be right there when I go to tackle this particular task.
So again, some great advantages for using this here, and seeing all of your tasks in the same window, in the same view as all of your commitments.
Let’s switch over now to the mobile view and see how this looks like on the Outlook app. So here we are on my Outlook mobile app.
And as you can see, no matter how I scroll, all the way to the early morning of the day, all the way to late at evening, my tasks are always going to show up at the top of that list. And that’s just so key to make sure that I am seeing them that they’re at the forefront, that they don’t get lost as a part of all of my busy meetings.
And as I scroll over to the next day, there, I’ve got my tasks waiting for me, I can see what else I have planned for tomorrow, in addition to all of my appointments.
And don’t forget that when you click on your individual tasks, you will still get your notes and attachments and everything else that you’ve added. Here again, is that HR interview questions, I’ve got that little note for me here.
I can add even further notes as well. So no matter where you go, no matter what you’re doing within the mobile app, as you scroll up and down, those tasks are going to be front and center so you don’t forget where you should be putting your attention.
Lastly, I just want to highlight some of the advantages and disadvantages of using this method. Now, of course, I’ve already highlighted the benefit of seeing all of your tasks on the same screen as your actual events and seeing the relationship between the two.
But one of the things that you may want to be careful with is that because these are technically all day events, none of them will move over to the coming day, when Tuesday is over, and I wake up and start my Wednesday, none of these will move over automatically unless I do it myself.
Now, that may sound like a pretty big negative, but I think that there’s a silver lining. Because nothing’s going to happen automatically, it’s going to encourage you and force you to be that much more engaged with all of your tasks and to-do, so when I get to the end of my day, if I have not completed all of these tasks, not only will I just move them over, I won’t just move them over, I’m going to take a look at those relationships.
I’m going to see where is it most appropriate to move some of these tasks? Or, are some of these tasks even worthwhile anymore? Maybe I can just get rid of them completely. Sometimes I know when we’re managing them in outside to-do list apps, it’s just so easy to say defer all, if you’ve got seven, or 10, or whatever that number is.
This encourages you, it forces you to engage that much more with your to-do list.
Well, I hope you enjoyed this post How to Use Outlook Calendar Effectively and I would love to hear from you. What are your thoughts? What is your feedback? Perhaps you’ve used a similar method like this before in the past, be sure to leave me a comment down below. Remember, being productive does not need to be difficult. In fact, it’s very simple.