Outlook for Everything

wfmw.jpgFor 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

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  • Comments

    1. Hey Ann,

      Thanks for popping by my blog and thanks for the encouraging words! Glad you’re enjoying my Paris posts. I have a few more up my sleeve. Btw, in reading the above post I have decided that you are WAY too organized for me. ;)

    2. My husband is frequently trying to teach me about the cool things Outlook can do, and how helpful it can be. Sounds like you’ve learned the system well! Perhaps I should recieve his lessons more willingly and find my life simplified.

      I’ll just not tell him it was another woman who pushed me over the edge. He can think it was all him! :)

    3. How I miss Outlook. It is a phenomenal tool but last year I found myself using several different computers throughout the course of a day and my contacts and to do’s kept getting scattered about between them. Now all of my info is in Yahoo! which is great for mobility but not as great in functionality as Outlook.

      I like the idea of having a day’s chores pre-defined and simply printing out the list. Keeps one from re-inventing the wheel each week.

    4. Joni: Oh! If you only knew how unorganized I am in most of my life, you would totally change your opinion. I’m looking around the room as I type, shaking my head.

      Karen: The ideas I tossed out are really simple. There’s a lot, lot more that Outlook can be used for, especially for your ministry stuff. I would urge you to give it a try–pick one thing that would truly help you out and see if you like it. You’re already pretty technically minded, with your e-newsletters and such.

      Toni: You know, a friend of mine was using Yahoo! for her calendar and other applications. I’ve never even tried it. Mobility is good. I guess one has to determine a system’s pros and cons, and pick the best pros and the least bad cons. My writing partner and I actually used Plaxo to link up our shared address list, so sometimes combining an online system with what’s on the computer can work well. I wonder if Yahoo would have some elements that would complement Outlook?

    5. Michael says:

      Ann, Can you help a fella out?! I am with you almost 100% of the way on using Outlook categories instead of, for “ease of use” breaking up all my contacts into folders that don’t really make sense in today’s “my-doctor-could-be-a-client” world. I need one big file with all my contacts in it, but I also need to sort by categories then print out labels for written communication with them. I can sure sort by the categories, but I’m having trouble getting prompted when I do that for the label template. When I use work and come in through the back door on a Mail Merge, it won’t let me sort by categories….what to do?!

      Any ideas. Thanks md

    6. I’ve not yet done a physical mailing–though I’ve used categories to send out group e-mails.

      My quick idea would be to set up a folder that you just call “mailing.” Leave it empty. Go to your main list of names and sort by category. Click on the bar or label for the category of choice. Right mouse-click. You should get some options, and one is to “move to folder.” You can just move that list of names to the “mailings” folder. Go through the steps of addressing mailing labels per your Avery instructions/wizard, and when it asks for the folder, just tell it that folder. When you’re done with that mailing, just delete everything in the folder or delete the folder. Repeat as needed for specific mailings.

      Now there are probably multiple ways to get what you want. You may have to export just the categories to some other place (maybe excel? I don’t even know) and do a mail merge. For more sophisticated options, check out these explanations at the Microsoft site. If these don’t help you through that one glitch-y moment, try typing in more keywords and browse what it brings up. I found answers to my mass e-mail questions there:

      http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/word/HA011269731033.aspx?pid=CH011218841033

      http://support.microsoft.com/kb/287561

    7. realy it is agood program but you like hill in that picuter up there lady so work on it first than we will take about you life in the next time of you sely website .

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    1. […] edge might actually help them skid to a stop.  What’s better?  Either type the note into the Task section of Outlook (no paper involved) or in a notebook (it stays attached to the […]

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