Even if you’re adept with using Microsoft Outlook to keep track of your to-do list with Tasks, Categories and Views, you may not know it’s possible to assign Tasks on your list to subordinates. Not only does this provide you with a convenient way to send the details of assignments to assistants and associates, it also allows you to track progress on your own to-do list.

Unless otherwise noted below, all instructions and screenshots are for Microsoft Office 2010 for Windows.

Assigning a Task

Sending a Task assignment in Microsoft Outlook is literally as easy as sending an email. Let’s say you have an assignable Task on your to-do list already:

You can revise the name of the Task (which will eventually be the email’s subject line) and even put in a description:

All you have to do now is click the Assign Task button, address it just like an email, and send it on.

Notice that Outlook allows you to put in, by default, the Start Date, the Due Date, and the priority. You also have the option of keeping the Task on your own to-do list to prompt follow-ups, and you can get a status report whenever the recipient marks the Task as complete.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here.

What happens on the assignee end?

Once you’ve hit Send, this is the email your assistant or associate will see:

Notice that this is very much like a Meeting Notice in Outlook in that the recipient is allowed to Accept or Decline. (Naturally, they’re going to click Accept as shown above.)

Once they have accepted the Task, it shows up on their Task list, complete with the Start and Due Dates and Priority you’ve assigned. They can see, at a glance, that it’s an assigned Task whenever they check their own to-do list simply by noting the different icons (see the Assigned Task icon circled in red below versus the non-Assigned Task circled in blue):

If you left the appropriate box checked when you sent the Task, it still appears on your list as well:

Task recipients can also send you updates by clicking the Send Status Report button, which will prompt Outlook to send you an email like this:

Keeping track of assigned Tasks

Once you get into the habit of assigning Tasks this way, you’ll find that Outlook gives you even more tools for Task management. For instance, one of the default Views in Tasks is the Assigned View:

This View, even without customization, filters for only Assigned Tasks and shows you which person you’ve assigned the Task to and the date it’s due.

Tasks to keep everyone on the same page

Making use of the Assign Task function in Microsoft Outlook can help you keep track of who’s responsible for what and how much progress has been made. It’s one more safety net for keeping items in your cases from slipping through the cracks.

(photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stuseeger/262718964/)

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