Outlook Tasks

Note: We’re working on updating and expanding this page. In the meantime, some of the information below is based on older versions of Outlook.

Customizing Task Views

When you click on Tasks in Outlook, you’ll probably see by default is the basic Simple list:

True to its name, this is a very Simple List View, so it’s not as useful as it could be for organizing your cases. Fortunately, Views are customizable. Right click on the column header bar (as shown above) to get this menu:

… and pick Field Chooser as shown above. You’ll a list of fields available for your column headers (the default is “Frequently-used fields,” but you can use the drop-down menu to get all Task fields).

Find a column you want to insert and, using your mouse, drag it up and drop it in the column header bar:

Once you let go of the left mouse button, your view will include the new column(s):

If you want to sort a particular column (such as a date field), click the column header. The upward-facing arrow (seen above next to Due Date) indicates sorting from lowest-to-highest value (A-Z, etc.); click again to sort in reverse order (highest-to-lowest value, i.e., Z-A).

You can save this as a new View by clicking on the Change View button.

You can also see all your Tasks for a particular case grouped together, sorted by Start Date and, within Start Date, by Due Date, and filtering out any tasks that are already marked Complete.

Go back to the Change View button seen above, but this time click Manage Views:

You could start from scratch and build a new View, but why not simply copy one that’s pretty close to what you need and just tweak it a bit? Let’s make a copy of the Category View.

At this point, Microsoft Outlook will present you with an abundance of choices for changing this View.

We’re really interested only in the first three buttons above: Columns, Group By, and Sort.

You can add or remove columns as you wish by selecting column names on the right or left and clicking the Add or Remove button as appropriate.

Once you have your desired Columns selected, you do a hierarchical Group By (by Category, then within Category by Owner, etc.) four levels down. We’re just going to do a single-level grouping by Category for now.

Here’s where we’re going to deviate a little from the standard Category View. Using the drop-downs, we’re sorting by Start Date, then with that by Due Date, then within that by Priority (Low, Normal, High).

Managing Reminders

If you routinely use the Tasks feature in Microsoft Outlook, 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 Multiple Reminders

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.

Marking Tasks 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.