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If you’re working on a small project, as a freelancer, or in a company with few employees, Outlook 2016 can help you manage your projects Turn Outlook into a Project Management Tool with OneNote Integration Turn Outlook into a Project Management Tool with OneNote Integration OneNote can do more than you think. We'll show you how to turn your Outlook to do list into a powerful project management tool using the OneNote plugin for Outlook. Read More and tasks without the need for hefty software. With simple customizations to the task section, you can set reminders and due dates, assign to-dos, and track time easily.

Why Use Outlook for Projects and Tasks?

For large projects, project managers and bigger companies use professional software such as Microsoft Project or Basecamp, some of the best project management tools to do the job. They offer the extensive features needed to organize and manage successful projects.

However, for small projects, freelancers, or teams of one or two, Outlook has the essential features needed to succeed in any undersized situation. Here are just a few of the basic features it contains:

  • Customizable task fields
  • Assignable to-dos
  • Helpful reminders
  • Time tracking
  • Status updates
  • Prioritization and categorization
  • Export function

OutlookMainTaskView

How Can Those Outlook Features Be Used?

Customize With Fields You Need

You can easily add and remove fields within the task section. For example, to track time you can add actual work and total work. For status tracking you can add percent complete and custom status.

To choose your fields, right-click on one of the columns and select Field Chooser. Then simply drag and drop the fields you want to the column area.

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OutlookChooseFields

Assign Tasks Easily

If you work with a partner or one employee, assigning tasks to each other is simple. Open the task and in the top navigation select Assign Task. Click the To button to open your contact list, select the assignee, and click the To button in the pop-up window. This will insert your contact into the task and once you click Send, the task will be on its way to the assignee.

You can also include a field for Team Task that includes simple checkmarks and an Assigned To field to see at a glance whose responsible.

OutlookAssignTask

Set Up Reminders

As with any task application, reminders are essential tools. Outlook allows you to customize your reminders by selecting the date, time, and a specific sound if you like. The date choices are in a calendar format and the time choices are in 30-minute increments.

OutlookSetupReminder

Track Time

For freelancers or others who charge clients by the hour, time tracking is a must. With Outlook you can use both Actual Work and Total Work fields or just one of them, depending on your exact needs. For instance, you can use Actual Work for the billable amount and Total Work for the entire time spent on the task. Both fields record time in decimal hours.

OutlookTimeTracking

Update Statuses

Outlook includes both percent complete and status fields to keep your projects and tasks on track. As with time tracking, you can use both or just one, depending on your preference.

The advantage to using them together is that if you mark a task as 100 percent complete, for example, the status field will automatically display Completed and the task will be scratched through.

The status field also includes choices for In Progress, Waiting on Someone Else, and Deferred, each of which can be very helpful for staying on track.

OutlookStatusOptions

Use Prioritization and Categorization

Using the priority field is another great tool for viewing your most important items The 3-Strike System: How To Prioritize Your To-Do List The 3-Strike System: How To Prioritize Your To-Do List Are you not getting through your to-do list? The problem might not be your productivity, it might just be your priorities. Let's learn how to prioritise the to-do list, and get things done. Read More at a glance. High priority items will show a red exclamation mark and low priority items will show a blue, downward arrow. You can also add a Custom Priority field if needed.

OutlookPrioritySettings

The category feature in Outlook is also handy for spotting specific types of tasks at a glance. By default, the categories are named for their color, but changing them to more meaningful names is helpful. For instance, you may use the green category for all finance tasks and name it as such. You can create your own categories and choose the color as well.

OutlookRenameCategories

Export Your Data

If you would like to export your tasks 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 to a spreadsheet, it is a simple process How to Export Outlook Contacts to Anywhere How to Export Outlook Contacts to Anywhere Do you need to export your Outlook contacts and are not sure where to begin? We show you how to export from Outlook and import in your destination. Read More . To begin, select File > Open & Export > Import/Export. When the next window pops open, select Export to a file in the list of choices. You can then choose from two file types; Comma Separated Values (.csv) or Outlook Data File (.pst).

OutlookExportStart

The Comma Separated Values option is a commonly-use choice. It allows you to map the fields for a clean transition and the file can be uploaded or imported into databases and spreadsheets. If you want to create a simple backup 5 Easy Ways To Back Up Your Microsoft Outlook Data 5 Easy Ways To Back Up Your Microsoft Outlook Data Read More of your Outlook tasks, then the Outlook Data File can be chosen.

In the next step, select the Tasks folder from the list of options and click Next. You can then adjust the file name and location if necessary. You will then finalize your export. You can click the Map Custom Fields button first, if needed, which will allow you to alter the fields in your file; this step is optional. Click Finish and you will be prompted to enter a date range for the tasks to export.

OutlookExportFinish

Other Handy Features

For ease-of-use, the tasks in Outlook offer additional convenient and useful features to help with your projects and to-dos.

  • Sort by any column.
  • Drag and drop to rearrange columns.
  • Send a status report for an individual task with one click.
  • View the task details section for hours, billing information, and company.
  • Filter all tasks by keyword, status, or time.

OutlookRearrangeAndSort

Is Mobile App Syncing Available?

Currently, the Outlook mobile app does not include a task feature. But, if you need to sync your Outlook tasks on the go, luckily there are apps that you can connect for either Android or iOS.

  • Remember The Milk (Pro version), Android and iOS, $39.99 yearly
  • Tasks & Notes for MS Exchange (requires exchange account), Android, $4.99
  • SymTasks – Outlook Tasks Sync, Android, $6.99
  • TaskTask for Outlook and Google Tasks, iOS, $4.99
  • Todo Exchange Tasks (requires exchange account), iOS, $9.99

RTMOutlookSyncPage

Have You Tried Outlook Tasks for Small Projects?

Using the task feature of Outlook does not work for everyone or every project. However, if you are already an Outlook user and just need a simple tool, then it works well.

Have you tried Outlook tasks for tracking time, assigning tasks, or keeping up with projects? What are your thoughts on the available features? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

  1. Hud
    November 21, 2016 at 1:00 am

    Surprised you do not mention the android app Wunderlist, a great task manager that Microsoft recently purchased.

    It is free and with an additional $10 app (forget the name, Bing it) you can sync directly with Outlook for tasks and also have the tasks sync with Outlook for Android calendar.

    We have been using it for several months now and it works seamlessly. Hoping that is the direction MS is going for mobile task management. Worth setting up.

  2. Marie-Andree Giroux
    September 16, 2016 at 3:33 am

    Hi Sandy,
    Very intersting feature you shared in article,.
    Only one question, can you upload a csv file of tasks in outlook?.
    Say you start a new projet, use a project template of task, change dates and then upload in outlook instead of keying all tasks one at a time.
    Thanks
    Marie-Andrée

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