For years I’ve kept a simple address list on Outlook, updating it when Christmas cards arrive. That was the only way I used it until I switched over to Outlook to receive my e-mails.Then I started managing all kinds of things with Outlook.TasksUsing Tasks, I keep my running to-do list. For most items, I jot a few notes like I would on a piece of paper. When I complete the task, I check it off (clicking an electronic feature keeps the item on the list in gray tones with a gray line through it, so that it’s crossed off but I can still refer to it. To never see it again, I use “delete.”).I print off a hard copy of the list to carry with me each day, scribbling notes, adding new items, crossing off completed items. At night I update it electronically so that the new list reflects my progress and can be printed off the next day.Some of the tasks are big and involved. A nice feature with Outlook is that when I double-click on the task, I get a bigger screen in which I can type notes. Here’s an example of how I use that feature: One task that shows up on my shorter, printed to-do list simply as “Mon Chores” can be double-clicked when I’m at my computer to bring up a bigger screen. That page shows a long list of chores I expect the kids to complete on Monday (I have one for each day of the week). I print off that page in the morning and set it on the counter. The kids are supposed to complete those tasks right after breakfast. If they put off the chores, fun activities are delayed until they check them off. I know; I’m tough.The Task/To-Do list stores the longer list for easy access.CalendarI have several electronic calendars on Outlook. One has nothing on it so that I can easily print a blank monthly or weekly calendar for any reason (to organize a long-range project, to fill in details of an unusually busy week, to jot a few notes for a simple journal, or to list homeschool plans and activities). I started another to keep track of meals that people are taking over to Ben’s family. And then I have a master calendar for myself. I like that Outlook alerts me to scheduled events with a popup alarm.ContactsAs I mentioned, this is where I keep my master address list. But I have another one that has business addresses and still another with names and contact information for people who are taking meals to Ben’s family. I like separating them like that.If I don’t want to separate them into entirely different lists, however, a nice feature under Contacts is Categories. I can assign a category to someone in order to sort the larger list and isolate specific categories of people.For business, I have categories such as “Closed,” for a company that no longer uses my writing services. “Open” for someone I’m in the process of contacting. I simply make up categories that make sense to me. Each contact can have as many categories as apply–just one click (Current View: “By Category”) and they instantly sort.For my personal address list, for example, I could have a category such as “Postcards” and sort only those people whose addresses I’d want to print off and take on vacation with me–to send a postcard. Same with Christmas Cards–there could be a category for those who should receive a Christmas card or newsletter.I’ve thought about typing in all of my physicians and then using that as a category. Then when I’m looking for a doc, I can sort by category “Physicians” and isolate those from the rest, instead of scanning for his or her last name.Over the years, my address list has grown quite long, and some people are in there that I don’t know super well. I’ve needed to contact them, though, so their info is in the database. Because of this, I have also thought about putting a category for how I know a person–creating a “Church” category, “Neighborhood,” “Soccer Team,” “Swim Club,” “School,” etc.The notes section for each contact is handy for any information I want to remember about a person: kids’ names, gift ideas, what I gave them for Christmas last year, what they were hospitalized for last year, which kid caught the chicken pox, directions to their house (if they e-mail directions, I just cut-and-paste from the e-mail into the notes section of their contact screen). When I bring up their name to phone, the notes remind me of something they’ve told me.Contacts has a Phone List sort, so that I can print out only phone numbers to take with me or keep in the car.I’ve only just begun to tap into the possibilities, but I’m finding that Outlook is helping me organize not just my business, but my life. Schedules, contact information, to-do lists. It’s all in one place–easy to manage; easy to reference. I can keep it on the screen, or print it out for portability. I don’t know if I’ve explained it well, but after setting everything up and inputting the information, it’s really simplified my life.For someone who sits at the computer screen more than she ought, Outlook really works for me.Please visit Rocks in My Dryer for more great ideas!
My previous Works-For-Me-Wednesday Ideas:Works for My Daughter (tent for a little solitude)21st Century Calling CardsBuying LocallyWorks-for-my-Friend Wednesday (Storage for Hospital Stays)When Life Is Crazy-Busy, Do the Next ThingProjects Contained and PortableCastile Soap for a Simpler Life (and blemish-free face)Post-It Annotation for Library BooksEveryday Mom-Mobile Essentials & Travel NotebooksMoney-Motivated KidsDrawers-by-the-DoorMake the Most of Internet Lag TimeStoring Dishes: How Low Can You Go?Crepes? Mais, Oui!Containerize Kids’ LaundryLet It Snow, Let Us Slow (Crockpot Steel-Cut Oatmeal)Family LoveFestJoy of Lifelong Learning–For Free!MP3 AccompanistMP3 Note-taking