Work Better In Outlook's Tasks

BY STANLEY ZAROWIN

Q. I use the Tasks feature in Microsoft Outlook to keep a schedule of files—both documents and spreadsheets—that I must open and review in the weeks ahead. Although the feature is a handy tool for alerting me, I wonder if there is a more efficient way to accomplish that chore. Also, each time I open Tasks , all the listed to-do items are shown with their due dates. Isn’t there a way to make it show only the items that are due today, or those that are late, so I don’t have to wade through the entire list?

A. Yes, there’s a neat way to evoke Tasks to address your first question. Because Outlook is tightly integrated with Word, you can command Tasks to remind you not only to open a file on the day, hour and even minute you choose, but it can actually locate it and then open it for you. Here’s how:

Open the target file—either Word, Excel or any other Microsoft application. Then evoke the Reviewing toolbar by clicking on View, Toolbar and Reviewing , which looks like this:

Click on the Tasks icon (the third from the left: it looks like a checkmark on a clipboard) to bring up this screen:

Then fill in the appropriate boxes—setting the Due date , checking the Reminder box and the time you want to be alerted. Notice also that you can set it to open on recurring dates. Or you can assign the task to someone else and you can configure it as a project with a status report and an assigned completion date.

Now, to respond to your second question: Can you get Outlook to show only current to-do tasks?

Tasks can be configured in many different ways. The simplest (the Outlook default), shows each task alphabetically with the due date (overdue tasks are colored in red). It looks like this:

But if you click on View, Current View , Outlook will list the variations—putting tasks in categories and determining their stage of completion—which looks like this:

You can even show what tasks are due within the next seven days, which looks like this:

Look over the many options and see which suit your needs.

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