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OneNote is one of those Microsoft products that seems completely useless when you first start using it, but it isn’t until you actually make use of the product that it’s true value starts shining through. As a task and project management tool 5 Tips for Using OneNote as Your To-Do List 5 Tips for Using OneNote as Your To-Do List Is making a to-do list on your to-do list? Set it up in OneNote to make getting things done as straightforward as possible. Read More , OneNote is one of the best tools out there.

Why not just use the Tasks feature in Microsoft Outlook How To Export Your Outlook Tasks To Excel With VBA How To Export Your Outlook Tasks To Excel With VBA Whether or not you are a fan of Microsoft, one good thing that can be said about MS Office products, at least, is how easy it is to integrate each of them with one another.... Read More , you ask? Well, there’s really no reason you can’t use both. Each have their place in your productivity toolbox, and they each compliment each other as well.

In this article, I’ll show you how you can integrate Microsoft Outlook tasks and Microsoft OneNote to better manage the complexities of the multiple projects you have going on in your life, or at work, at any given time.

Where Outlook Tasks Falls Short

I’ve used Tasks in Microsoft Outlook for many years. As a daily overview of everything you have to accomplish, nothing beats it. You’ve got due dates, task descriptions, and priorities available at a glance, and you can even categorize them into the specific projects you’re working on.

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The biggest benefit to Tasks – its simplicity – is also its biggest drawback.

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Although you have the ability to write notes The Perfect Modern Notetaking App: OneNote For Windows 8 The Perfect Modern Notetaking App: OneNote For Windows 8 Microsoft finally did something right! OneNote turns your Windows 8 tablet into a handy notebook. Quickly scribble down notes and pick them up anywhere. Syncing via SkyDrive automatically makes them available on the desktop. Read More when you open individual tasks, the features that are available within these notes are very limited.

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Text is great, but what if you want to organize the many spreadsheets, documents, meeting notes, and the many other records that go along with working on these tasks?

What you need is a sort of folder or notebook where you can store all of that information for each task, organized with tabs, and available at your fingertips when you’re reviewing your tasks and deciding what to work on next.

Adding the OneNote Add-In to Outlook

Thankfully, you can do this with OneNote, since it integrates so perfectly with Outlook. To do this from within Outlook, just click on File and then Options.

Along the left navigation menu, click on the Add-Ins link.

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At the bottom of this page you’ll see a “Manage” field with a dropdown box. Select “COM Add-ins” and click on the Go button.

If you have OneNote installed on your computer–which you should, because OneNote is free- OneNote Is Now Truly Free with More Features Than Before OneNote Is Now Truly Free with More Features Than Before Evernote no longer rules the roost of note taking apps. Microsoft recently announced OneNote would be more free than ever before. Let us show you what this means in terms of features and functionality. Read More -then you’ll see an Add-In here titled OneNote Notes about Outlook Items. Select the checkbox next to this, and then click OK.

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Now you’ll discover “OneNote” icons all throughout Outlook, but the one we’re most interested in is the one that now appears at the top of your Outlook Tasks page.

Now that you’ve integrated OneNote with Outlook, it’s time to put it to work to get more productive 5 Ways To Get Productive With Microsoft OneNote 5 Ways To Get Productive With Microsoft OneNote Do you feel the need for an offline organization tool that also exists on the web? Surprisingly, Microsoft has come up with the perfect solution - OneNote. Read More .

In the following section, I’ll show you how you can create notebooks for individual projects that you’ve got going on, and then how you can create new pages for managing tasks just by clicking the OneNote button in Outlook Tasks.

Effective Task Management with OneNote and Outlook Tasks

First, open up OneNote and create a new Notebook just dedicated to Task Management.

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Now inside the Task Management notebook, you can create new sections for each individual project that you’re currently working on.

All of the tasks in your Outlook Tasks page will typically fall under one project or another. Unfortunately in Outlook, it’s not as easy to visually organize these tasks by project. They all simply show up in a big, long list. There is the category to work with, but that’s just a column. Visually, the list looks quite intimidating.

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But by adding sections in OneNote for each project, you’re creating this nice, clean visual layout that lets you organize all of your tasks visually into projects (which we’ll get to in a moment).

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So, now that you’ve got OneNote set up with projects, you can start loading it up with Tasks as they come up.

Using Your New Task-to-OneNote Integration

Whether new tasks arise from an email your boss sends you, assignments provided by a project manager, or anywhere else, the process is the same; create the task in Outlook Tasks, highlight it (by clicking on the task) and then click the OneNote icon at the top of the Tasks page.

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What happens when you do this is magic.

First, OneNote will ask you what section you want to place this new “page” into. This is where you select the Project where this task belongs.

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Once you do that, OneNote will automatically import the Task from Outlook into that OneNote section as a new page.

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Basically, sections are projects, and pages are tasks. So with this setup in OneNote, all of your projects will be listed along the left navigation bar. As you click on a project, you’ll see all of the related tasks along the right side navigation bar.

Once you’ve used this setup for a few days, you’ll appreciate just how intuitive and clean it is. Even if you have 4 or 5 projects all going on at once, this setup allows you to focus right in on a specific project Jedi-Concentrate: Darken Inactive Windows For Better Work Focus Jedi-Concentrate: Darken Inactive Windows For Better Work Focus Read More , and see only the tasks associated with it, without all of the clutter of unrelated tasks.

Keeping Task Records Organized

By bringing your tasks into OneNote, you provide a central space where everything related to that task can be organized. And the things that you can organize on your Task page in OneNote is impressive.

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You can insert tables of data (or insert an actual Excel spreadsheet if you like), attach any kind of file, take screen clippings, insert pictures or scanned images, make audio recordings, and of course add all the hyperlinks you like.

You could even create another to-do list within this individual task. What you organize in this space is completely up to you, but the point is that it allows you a centralized location to focus in on your task, without wasting time hunting through your directories Creating Order From Chaos: 9 Great Ideas For Managing Your Computer Files Creating Order From Chaos: 9 Great Ideas For Managing Your Computer Files It's frustrating isn’t it when you can’t find that file? When you’ve searched every folder imaginable on your computer, and somehow it got lost….or worse, deleted. Now, there are excellent search tools for Windows that... Read More for related files. Link everything here, and it’s all at your fingertips.

Do you use OneNote to organize your projects and tasks? Do you see value in integrating your Outlook Tasks into OneNote? Give it a try, and share your feedback and experiences in the comments section below!

  1. Roland
    August 24, 2016 at 4:31 pm

    Pity, in OneNote 2016 (and Outlook 2016) it doesn't work anymore.
    OneNote 2016 is super-simple (which I actually appreciate) but its missing one super-important feature: to list all tasks (tagged with the task box) so that I can see my todos.

  2. DAVID
    June 21, 2016 at 1:51 am

    Does this work for the mac version?

  3. Jim widgeon
    February 18, 2016 at 10:13 pm

    Does this work with Office 365 version of Outlook so I can see all the project tasks on my desktop, laptop and Android tablet and phone? If yes, is anything stored locally or is it all in the cloud?

  4. Tobias
    February 9, 2016 at 6:43 pm

    Great article.
    It would be interesting for me to know how you solve the problem of not being clear WHEN a specific project (=Onenote section) is ready - means all tasks (=pages) are checked as done.

    Any idea or help for me?

    Regards
    Tobias

  5. Patrick
    January 5, 2016 at 10:43 am

    Is there a way to have a link back to the original email / conversation once in OneNote. The only connection is a ability to complete the task.

  6. Tom
    December 10, 2015 at 11:57 am

    for link to "OneNote" you can use Linker for Windows from TeamScope.com (free). Linker for Windows use Hyperlinks to any outlook Object.

    • Tom
      December 10, 2015 at 12:00 pm

      Sorry right is: link from OneNote to Outlook objects

  7. Niner
    December 9, 2015 at 6:19 pm

    Is this valid with Outlook 2016? I am only seeing "Send to OneNote" nota "Link to OneNote"

  8. ndo_ndo
    July 17, 2015 at 8:28 pm

    one downside about outlook and one note is that if you have SQL queries in outlook. Copy paste the SQL from Outlook to OneNote adds UTF-8 code that screw out the queries.
    in my case it was adding HEX C2 A0

    Then when you need the SQL queries, you copy it from One Note to SQL Query analyzer it will not work!!

  9. Paulo Costa
    June 26, 2015 at 5:01 am

    Great article Ryan, really helpful and without doubt a good complement to Task in Outlook. I will for sure will try it.

    I do tend to agree with some comments from others that does not solve some problems like nesting task, but you can also create To-Dos within the OneNote page (even creating a task from there).

    I would like to share though that there is a plug-in from NetCentrics called GTD Plug-in for Outlook that in away allows you to create projects and subprojects, and in a way next tasks. I have been using it for a couple of years and works "OK". And it also allows you to automate certain things like create a task automatically from e-mails or events in calendar. I still find it a bit clunky, but works (I thought it was worth sharing).

    Though I will definitely try to use this approach with OneNote as it complements this, in a way that I can keep meeting Notes for each of the projects in the Project folder, close the the task pages. I see it as a good single-repository for all your projects information.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Jeremy Myers
      January 23, 2016 at 5:25 pm

      Take a look at Smartsheet. Is fully integrated and has both a calendar / todo / gantt chart view. The gantt is way easier to setup and use that MS Project.

  10. Logan Boutilier
    June 25, 2015 at 5:48 am

    Great article and guidance on how to manage tasks better. I see this simply as a tool to transfer the tasks out of Outlook and into One Note. The former is too limited in workability; the latter not an email interface/calendar software.
    However, is there any integration from OneNote back into Outlook that would mark a task as completed?
    I like Clive's idea of using his calendar as a task management tool, allowing moving around of tasks with durations and deadlines included. Is there a way to create a calendar item with duration directly from an email in Outlook? I.e. if I receive an email requesting 4 hours of my time at some point over the next 2 weeks, can I right click that email and create a calendar event with the body of that email, along with attachments, included in the calendar event?

    • Darrin Steele
      July 17, 2015 at 3:00 am

      Hey Logan - Yes, there is integration from OneNote back into Outlook that marks the task as completed. When you follow Ryan's approach and send the task to OneNote from the link in tasks, it will automatically put a RED flag next to the task in OneNote. Once you are done with the task, you click the red flag and it will turn into a check-mark, indicating it is completed. At the same time, the task is also marked completed (i.e. check-marked) in your Outlook Tasks list. Anytime you mark the item complete on either OneNote or Outlook Tasks, one updates the other with the same status.

      • David Klein
        July 31, 2015 at 8:49 am

        Hi

        When I send a task to OneNote I get indeed the task created in OneNote with the little red flag, but I can't mark it as checked since in OneNote it's saying "we can't find this task in Outlook"
        Strange

  11. Clive Walters
    June 25, 2015 at 3:53 am

    Very stimulating article. It overcomes some of the limitations of Outlook tasks, which become quite pressing in a professional setting.
    The problem I have with the Tasks is that tasks take time. As soon as I get an e-mail or task that I can give a duration to, I move it to the calendar and set a time and a practical reminder, and if needed make it a repeating appointment if I need to break it up into a number of sessions. Then I can move it around, while recognizing any fixed deadlines.
    The other limitation I find in Tasks is that I cannot put tasks into dependency relationships. Almost nothing I do stands alone, it is typically linked to what someone else does, or other things that I do...The OneNote idea doesn't solve this, and I'm still trying work arounds that are simple and easy.

    • debbie maddox
      September 14, 2015 at 7:35 pm

      I'm in the same boat. I'd like to be able to set up reminders to check in with the dependent people and then affect next due date accordingly.

  12. Bill Reid
    June 24, 2015 at 9:10 pm

    Thanks for this info: Great information.

    The one thing this doesn't solve is Outlook still won't let you nest tasks. That's really what we need to make it effective.

    • Yodi Collins
      June 26, 2015 at 8:15 pm

      "Nest"? Could you elaborate please?

      • Bill Reid
        June 26, 2015 at 10:29 pm

        Associate tasks with parent items so you have tasks and subtasks. Expand a task to see subtasks under it. That way you can use it to manage a small project. As a programmer, all it would take is one field for parent item and replace the list view with a tree view. I've suggested it to the product group for many years now.

        • Brian McGee
          July 5, 2015 at 1:18 am

          Although Outlook doesn't let you nest tasks you can get some way towards this by using subpages in Onenote. It isn't a patch on proper MsProject say but visually it can have a similar effect.

  13. Brady Sewall
    June 24, 2015 at 12:32 am

    Nice article! Is there a way to do this on a Mac? Looks very limited.

  14. Yodi Collins
    June 23, 2015 at 6:33 pm

    Great article! Thanks!

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