Seven Steps to Transforming Your Email into a Time Management System [Outlook 2010+]

Stop using your inbox as a reminder system, filing folder, to do list and appointment book!  Instead, use more of the features of your email program to radically streamline your day and move your mission forward.

  1. Create categories for prioritizing emails (P1, P2, P3) and assigning tasks (@assigned).
  2. Create a Quick Step for each category, to enable one-step email processing. Your Quick Step should: 1) assign a category and 2) add a flag, to convert emails instantly into categorized tasks with one click.  Note, for “@assigned,” step two is to convert the email into an assigned task.
  3. Create no more than six filing folders for emails. Call your main folder “Processed” – this is where most of your emails Toddler Bouncy Castle For Sale should be banished after reading!  You may want to add other group folders, like “Projects,” “Students,” “Funders,” but Outlook’s search will find most things just fine in “Processed.”
  4. Create a Quick Step to file emails to their correct folder with a single click. Now, clicking “Processed” sends that email to the Processed folder. If you’ve made other folders, create Quick Steps to file there, too.
  5. Process your inbox at the top of each day. After you read each email, either: 1) Click to file it; 2) Click to convert it into a task (then file it); or 3) click to add it to your calendar (then file it).
  6. Change your task view to sort by category. Now you can tackle P1s before P2s and P3s.  Change the task view on your Inbox page and on your main Tasks page.
  7. In Calendar, use the weekly or daily view. That way, your tasks appear below the days they’re scheduled on, and you can drag and drop them right onto your calendar when you plan your day every morning.  You can also create one more Quick Step to turn emails directly into calendar appointments (for events).

To really enjoy this new way of using Outlook to manage time, on your Inbox page, widen the calendar and task section on the right to take up half of the page.  That will remind you that all three functions – email, tasks and calendar – are part of a well-managed day.