If you routinely use the Tasks feature in Microsoft Outlook to track your case related to-dos (or even flag incoming and/or outgoing e-mails), you probably set those to pop up a reminder periodically so you don’t lose track of the item.

There’s just one problem: all those reminders popping up in that window can get to be a real pain. And if they become a big enough pain, you start ignoring them, which is even worse than not setting them at all.

Here are some techniques for managing all those reminders so they don’t become so overwhelming.

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

Snoozing reminders en masse

If you’ve got several reminders in your Reminder Window and you want to simply delay them for more convenient time, you don’t have to reset them one by one. Simply select a group of them (click on the first one, then shift-click on the last one to select a contiguous list):

Whatever Snooze time option you choose from the drop-down at the bottom of the window will apply to all the Tasks and flagged e-mails you selected. If you don’t need reminders for any of these items anymore, you can simply click the Dismiss All button.

The simplest way to mark an item “Complete”

If a reminder pops up for a Task or flagged e-mail that you’ve already completed, simply right-click the item for a contextual menu:

In addition to being able to mark an item “Complete,” you can open the item for editing or delete it altogether. Unfortunately, this contextual menu will not pop up if you have more than one item selected.

Managing Reminders in the Tasks window

If you click on the Tasks bar in the lower left-hand corner of Outlook, you can review your Tasks using either outlooks predefined views or customize one of your own. In addition to reviewing the Start and Due Dates of your Tasks, you can also add a column for the Reminder date/time.

To do so, right-click anywhere in the gray column headings to get a contextual menu:

Choosing Field Chooser gives you a box from which you can select new fields to add to your view. From the drop-down, choose Date/Time fields and drag Reminder Time up to the column headings and drop it where you wish it to appear:

From here, you can manage your Reminder times without having to open items individually.

Making Outlook work for you, not against you

Part of the challenge of using Microsoft Outlook to enhance your law practice is not over-engineering it. If the Reminders feature does little more than annoy you, use it sparingly and get in the habit of reviewing your Tasks in a customized view on a regular basis. Don’t be afraid to adjust your methods in Microsoft Outlook (or any software, for that matter) to make it work for you.

(photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/alancleaver/4293345629/)

3 responses to “Managing Microsoft Outlook Reminders”

  1. Tom Thompson says:

    Very helpful on managing reminders. Thanks!

  2. Sanjay says:

    Great Tips. I also like how Outlook 2007 and Outlook 2010 can show Tasks in Calendar view under the calendar…. but it has one problem.

    All tasks that don’t have a Due Date appear for today’s date which makes this view difficult (if not actually useless) to use.

    The solution…Give ALL your Tasks a due date. For Tasks that don’t actually have a due date, set a date well in the future (e.g 1/1/2099).

    Now Tasks will appear on the correct Due Date and tasks which should not have had a due date do not appear at all.


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