Outlook Tasks – speed tips

Anyone who’s read my blog for any length of time (1) has my sympathy and (2) will know that I’m a fan of tasks in Outlook. I’ve written extensively on the subject. Here’s a selection of my favourites.

One aspect I’ve never shared publicly is how I create a subject line for my tasks. When I convert an email into a task (using the magical SHIFT+CTRL+V, T, Enter shortcut) the subject line is pre-populated with the subject line from my email. It’s worth editing this is little bit or adding some simple abbreviations to make trawling through your tasks a little quicker. Here’s my system:

  • If the subject line is clear, I make no change. No point wasting time here!
  • If the content of the email needs careful reading then to be filed, I type RDF (which stands for Read, Digest, File!) before the existing subject line
  • If the content needs reading then some response, I type R&R (read & respond)
  • If it just needs reading then deleting (maybe it’s not worth keeping or I’ve already filed it) I type R&D
  • If the task calls for anything more complex I simply type what it is, e.g. "Book travel then notify team"

There’s no right or wrong here but if you regularly create tasks from emails it’s worth figuring out a shorthand code to make task creation quicker. Not only that but it also makes sorting through tasks easier. For example, if I’m tired I’ll avoid an RDF as I need to be switched on enough to remember the content. If I’ve had a day away from the keyboard then wading through a few R&Rs gives my fingers some exercise and avoids my having to deal with these when I’ve been typing all day.

Give it a try and let me know what you think.