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Microsoft Outlook 2010 : Track Tasks (part 1) - Creating Tasks

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6/22/2013 8:56:27 PM

1. Creating Tasks

If you use your Outlook task list to its fullest potential, you'll frequently add tasks to it. You can create one-time or recurring tasks from scratch in different ways, or you can add an existing Outlook item (such as a message) to your task list. Regardless of how or where you create a task, all tasks are available in the Tasks module and in the To-Do Bar Task List. Only individual tasks are available in the Tasks List.

Tip

Another way to add a task to your list is by accepting an assigned task.

You can attach files to task items, and you can include text, tables, charts, illustrations, hyperlinks, and other content in the task window content pane by using the same commands you use in other Outlook item windows and in other Microsoft Office 2010 programs, such as Microsoft Word. You can also set standard Outlook item options such as recurrence, color categories, reminders, and privacy.

Tip

You can maintain multiple task lists by creating folders to contain task items. 

Creating Tasks from Scratch

You can create a task item from scratch by using one of several methods.

In the Tasks module:

  • Click the New Task button on the Home tab, enter the task details in the task window that opens, and then save and close the task.

  • When you display your To-Do List, enter the task description in the Type A New Task box at the top of the list, and then press Enter to create a task with the default settings.

  • When you display your Tasks List, enter the task description in the Click Here To Add A New Task box, press Tab to move to subsequent fields, fill in other information, and then press Enter.

Tip

The fields available in the Tasks List vary based on the list view you're displaying. 

In any module:

  • Click the New Items button on the Home tab and then, in the list, click Task.

  • In the To-Do Bar, enter the task description in the Type A New Task box at the top of the To-Do Bar Task List.

From any view of the task list, you can assign the task to a category, change the due date, add a reminder, mark the task as complete, or delete the task entirely. To access these commands, right-click the task name, category, or flag, and then click the option you want.

Tip

By default, Outlook doesn't automatically set a reminder for tasks as it does for calendar items. You can turn on reminders from the Outlook Options dialog box.

Task Options

When you create a task item, the only information you must include is the subject. As with many other types of Outlook items, you can set several options for tasks to make it easier to organize and identify tasks.

  • Start date and due date You can display tasks on the various Outlook task lists on either the start date or the due date. The color of the task flag indicates the due date.

  • Status You can track the status of a task to remind yourself of your progress. Specific status options include Not Started, In Progress, Completed, Waiting On Someone, or Deferred. You also have the option of indicating what percentage of the task is complete. Setting the percentage complete to 25%, 50%, or 75% sets the task status to In Progress. Setting it to 100% sets the task status to Complete.

  • Priority Unless you indicate otherwise, a task is created with a Normal priority level. You can set the priority to add a visual indicator of a task's importance. Low priority displays a blue downward pointing arrow and High priority displays a red exclamation point. You can sort and filter tasks based on their priority.

  • Recurrence You can set a task to recur on a regular basis; for example, you might create a Payroll task that recurs every month. Only the current instance of a recurring task appears in your task list. When you mark the current task as complete, Outlook creates the next instance of the task.

  • Category Tasks use the same category list as other Outlook items. You can assign a task to a category to associate it with related items such as messages and appointments.

  • Reminder You can set a reminder for a task in the same way you do for an appointment. The reminder appears until you dismiss it or mark the task as complete.

  • Privacy Marking a task as private ensures that other Outlook users to whom you delegate account access can't see the task details.

None of the options are required, but they can be helpful to you when sorting, filtering, and prioritizing your tasks.

Creating Tasks from Outlook Items

You frequently need to take action based on information you receive in Outlook—for example, information in a message or in a meeting request. You might want to add information from another Outlook item to your task list, to ensure that you complete any necessary follow-up work.

Depending on the method you use, you can either create a new task from an existing item or simply transfer the existing item to your task list by flagging it.

To create a new task from a message, contact, or note:

  • Drag the message to the Tasks button at the bottom of the Navigation Pane, pause until the Navigation Pane changes to display the Tasks module content, and then release the mouse button.

This method opens a task window that already has information filled in from the original item. You can change settings, add information and attachments, assign the task to other people, and so on.

To transfer an existing e-mail message to your task list without creating an individual task:

  • Click the flag icon to the right of a message in the Mail pane. This method, referred to as flagging a message for follow-up, adds the message to your task lists with the default due date specified in the Quick Click settings, and adds an information bar to the message. However, it does not create a separate task item, so to retain the task, you must retain the message—you can move the message between mail folders, but deleting the message deletes the task as well.

  • Right-click the flag icon to the right of a message in the Mail pane, and then specify a due date: Today, Tomorrow, This Week, Next Week, No Date, or Custom (which allows you to set specific start and end dates).

    Tip

    Flagged messages appear on your task list under the default due date header. You can change the default due date either by setting the Quick Click flag in the Outlook Options dialog box or by right-clicking the flag and then clicking Set Quick Click. In the Set Quick Click dialog box, click the due date you want to appear by default, and then click OK.

  • Drag the message to the To-Do Bar Task List and drop it under the heading for the due date you want to assign it to. (If the desired due date doesn't already have a heading in the To-Do Bar Task List, you need to drop the message under another heading and then assign the due date you want.) This method also adds the message to your task list but doesn't create a separate task item.

You can flag a contact record for follow-up by clicking the contact record in the Contacts pane and then clicking the Follow-Up button in the Tags group on the Home tab.

If you frequently want to create message-based tasks with special settings, such as a task with the original message attached to it, with specific follow-up settings or categories, and with specific assignments, you can create a Quick Step to accomplish all of these steps with one click.


Note

If you didn't create those messages, you can do so now, or you can substitute any messages in your Inbox. Display your Inbox, and expand the To-Do Bar if it is minimized. Locate the SBS Tradeshow Schedule message, and then follow the steps.

  1. In the message list, to the right of the SBS Tradeshow Schedule message, click the transparent Quick Click flag.

    The Quick Click flag changes from transparent to red, and a task named SBS Tradeshow Schedule appears in the Today category on your To-Do Bar Task List.

    Tip

    For the purposes of this exercise, we assume that you haven't yet created other tasks and Today is the only due date heading in the To-Do Bar Task List at this time.

  2. In the To-Do Bar Task List, point to the SBS Tradeshow Schedule task.

    A ScreenTip appears displaying the start date, reminder time, due date, the folder in which the message appears, and any categories assigned to the message.

    image with no caption

    The flagged message appears in the To-Do Bar Task List. Pointing to the message displays additional information.

    Note

    Troubleshooting The appearance of buttons and groups on the ribbon changes depending on the width of the program window or item window. 

  3. In the To-Do Bar Task List, double-click the SBS Tradeshow Schedule task.

    The flagged message opens in a message window. The message header indicates that you need to follow up on this message. The start and due dates given are today's date.

    image with no caption

    The ribbon of the flagged message includes only message commands; it does not have additional task-related tabs or commands.

  4. Close the message window.

  5. In the message list, locate the SBS First Draft message. Drag the message from the message list to the To-Do Bar Task List, and drop it under the Today heading.

    In the message list, the Quick Click flag in the right margin of the SBS First Draft message changes from transparent to red.

    Tip

    If you can't see all of your tasks, you can increase the height of the To-Do Bar Task List by dragging the horizontal divider between the calendar information and the task information upward.

  6. In the To-Do Bar Task List, right-click (don't click) the red flag to the right of the SBS First Draft message.

    Note

    Troubleshooting Clicking an active flag marks the item as complete in the Inbox, and removes it from the To-Do Bar Task List. 

    A list of due date options appears and, because a task has been activated, the Task List contextual tab appears on the ribbon.

    image with no caption

    It's easy to change the due date of a task or the follow-up date for a flagged message in the To-Do Bar Task List.

  7. In the list, click This Week.

    Tip

    Flagging a task for completion This Week or Next Week sets the start date to the first working day of the specified week and the due date to the last working day of the week. The default work week is Monday through Friday but the start and due dates reflect your own work week configuration. 

    A new This Week due date heading appears in the To-Do Bar Task List with the message under the heading. In the message list and in the To-Do Bar Task List, the Quick Click flag to the right of the SBS First Draft message changes from red to light pink.

    Note

    Troubleshooting If the This Week heading doesn't automatically appear, click the Today heading to refresh the list.

  8. At the top of the To-Do Bar Task List, click Type a new task, enter SBS Order Brochures, and then press Enter.

    The new task appears in the Today section of the To-Do Bar Task List.

  9. In the Navigation Pane, click the Tasks button.

    The Tasks module opens, displaying your active tasks in the To-Do List. The icon preceding each item in the list indicates whether it is a standard task, a flagged e-mail message, and so on. Message icons match those shown in the Inbox, indicating whether the message is read or unread and whether you've replied to or forwarded the message.

  10. In the To-Do List, click the SBS Tradeshow Schedule message.

    The Reading Pane displays the flagged message contents.

    image with no caption

    The To-Do List and Reading Pane of the Tasks module, displaying a flagged message.

  11. In the To-Do List, click SBS Order Brochures.

    The Reading Pane displays the task item contents. You can't edit the task settings directly in the Reading Pane.

    image with no caption

    The To-Do List and Reading Pane, displaying a task item.

  12. At the top of the To-Do List, click Type a new task, enter SBS Dinner Reservations, and then press Enter.

    The task appears in the Today section of both the To-Do List and the To-Do Bar Task List.

  13.  In the To-Do List, click the SBS Dinner Reservations task. Then on the Home tab, in the Follow Up group, click Next Week.

    In both task lists, the task appears under the Next Week heading. In the Reading Pane, the due date changes to Friday of the next week.

    image with no caption

    Setting the due date to Next Week puts the task under the Next Week heading but assigns an actual due date of the last working day of the next week.

  14. Double-click the SBS Dinner Reservations task to open it in a task window.

  15. In the notes pane, enter the following sentence:

    Confirm that the restaurant has a private dining room available for the Board Meeting.

    As with other Outlook items, you can add many types of content to the notes pane and format the text in the notes pane.

    image with no caption

    You can add notes, links, and attachments in the notes pane.

  16.  On the Task tab, in the Actions group, click the Save & Close button.

    The task window closes.

  17. On the Home tab, in the New group, click the New Task button.

    An untitled task window opens.

  18. In the Subject box, enter the following sentence:

    SBS Send Dinner Invitations.

  19. Click the Due date arrow.

    A calendar appears.

    image with no caption

    On the calendar, a red outline indicates the current date.

  20. On the calendar, click the Tuesday of the next week (not of the current week).

    Tip

    You can't assign to a task a due date that has already passed.

  21. Select the Reminder check box, click the Reminder arrow, and then in the calendar, click the Monday of the next week.

  22. In the notes pane, enter the following sentence:

    Invite all Board members and their spouses.

  23. In the Actions group, click the Save & Close button.

    Outlook adds the task to your task list, and it appears in the Next Week group in both the To-Do Bar Task List and the To-Do List.

image with no caption

A bell next to a task name indicates that a reminder is set for the task.

Note

CLEAN UP Retain the SBS Order Brochures, SBS Dinner Reservations, and SBS Send Dinner Invitations tasks, and the flagged SBS Tradeshow Schedule and SBS First Draft messages, for use in later exercises.

 
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