Work is never-ending. Action points, KRAs, delegated work, recurring routine tasks and more. I am sure you have your own method to manage tasks. But the Microsoft To Do app is worth considering as the single place for managing all kinds of work. Reading time 7 min.
Types of tasks
- MY tasks – which could be personal as well as business / work related
- OUR Tasks – related to projects where you are part of the team
Multiple, scattered task lists
Whether you like it or not, task lists get scattered. All kinds of places end up having tasks.
Problem: Can’t prioritize and monitor easily
Multiple lists, multiple technologies (mind, paper, desktop, mobile) – Therefore, you cannot sort, filter, prioritize, merge, delegate and monitor? This mean you are going to miss important things and waste time on less important things – without realizing that you are doing it! Bad.
Solution: Single list for your work – Outlook Tasks
The recommended place is Outlook Tasks folder. NOT the To Do list.
Tasks may originate in many places – for example – meetings, mails, chat, phone calls, notes, training… but still add an entry into the Tasks folder in Outlook.
We just created a master list. Keep this list updated. You can now use it to sort, filter, prioritize, plan, monitor and execute.
How to see Outlook tasks on the mobile?
The Outlook mobile app or the default email apps on android or iOs do not show Outlook tasks.
That is why you need the Microsoft To Do app. In addition to the Outlook tasks, it shows the list of flagged emails as well.
What about shared tasks in a project?
Good question. You may be a part of multiple projects or team initiatives. Each of these projects will have a task list – the project plan.
The recommended place to manage project related teamwork is Microsoft Teams. Shared project plan is created using Planner. Each team in Teams usually has at least one Planner list.
In each of the projects you will be responsible for some tasks. You need to monitor and execute these tasks as well.
You can go to each project planner and filter tasks assigned to you. But this is a repetitive activity.
Problem: How to get my tasks across projects in a single place?
No problem at all. In Teams menu (left side vertical menu) choose … and select Planner. Now you can see My Tasks tab.
My tasks tab in Planner lists all your work across projects. You can group it by status, project or due date. Great.
How to see my work and project work in one place?
Again, the answer is the Microsoft To Do app. This app is an aggregator of tasks from various places. That is why it is such an important app for monitoring and execution of tasks.
Microsoft To Do App download
TODO ANDROID AND IOS IMAGES AND LINKS
What does the Microsoft To Do app show?
- Outlook flagged emails (Outlook ToDo folder)
- Outlook tasks
- Tasks from Planner – across all Teams
- Planner tasks assigned to me
- Your own checklists
- Your shared task lists
- My day – for planning what to do today
All section in To Do App
This is a combined list of all possible tasks. From Planner, Outlook and even your custom lists. Soon, MS Project tasks are also likely to appear in this consolidated view.
How to find time to do the work?
The best way is to block time to do the work well in advance. Despite your best efforts, some things will still be executed in a random, ad-hoc manner. But still, no harm in trying to block time at least for important tasks in advance. Here is how you do it.
Block time for Outlook tasks in calendar
This works only on the desktop. Open Outlook Calendar in a separate window. Go to week or work week view – for current or next week.
Open the task folder in a separate window (right click on the Task icon). Make the task window smaller.
Choose important tasks and drag drop a task on the desired day and time slot. That’s it. You blocked time and increased the chances of executing the task.
Synchronize Planner tasks with Outlook
This is also possible. It is a one-time process… but a little irritating! Go to Planner on browser (Office.com – login – choose Planner). Now go to My Tasks. In the menu, there is an inconspicuous, easy to miss ellipsis (…)
Click and choose Add “My Tasks” to Outlook calendar and follow instructions.
A new calendar called Planner – My Tasks is added to Shared calendars.
Now you can see it side by side or overlay it on top of your base calendar. How to overlay? Click on the left arrow next to the calendar name tab.
The disadvantage or shortcoming is that the items come as an All Day appointment. You cannot add it at a specific time slot (like we did for the Outlook tasks). But despite this problem it is a useful thing to see Planner tasks inside Outlook calendar.
Daily planning using My Day in Microsoft To Do app
This is for short-term planning daily. Any task you see in the To Do app can be added to My Day.
If you don’t mark it as complete during the day, it stays on for next day as well. Use My Day only for very short-term planning. Do not rely on it for overall time management.
Shared Task lists / Checklists in Microsoft To Do App
The app also allows you to create stand-alone checklists which you can share with others.
Microsoft To Do app integrates with Teams
Now, the To Do app works right inside Teams and provides the same items as the mobile app. Click on the three dots in the main menu (left side vertical) in Teams and choose To Do.
Cortana Daily Briefing – add tasks
One recent but extremely intelligent feature is Cortana Daily Briefing. If you are using Office 365, but not receiving these mails, please talk to your IT team to enable it.
Outlook checks all mails you are working on and finds items which could potentially be tasks. It then reminds you by asking you – have you done this? If not, you can actually add it to the To Do app as a task item – right from the mail.
After I started using Cortana Daily Briefing, I can imagine how many actionable items I must have missed in life – wrote something in the email, and totally forgot about it…
Microsoft To Do app – the task aggregator
In short, the To Do app is a really powerful tool to help you look at your workload in a single place and manage it proactively as well as efficiently.
Try it out 👍