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Rediscover the robust task management features in Microsoft Outlook 2010. Author Gini Courter explains the difference between Outlook tasks and To-Do Lists, and shows how to use Outlook 2010 to handle both business and personal schedules, from making appointments, to creating and completing tasks, to color-coding calendars and tasks for at-a-glance review.
Well, there are six built-in categories in Outlook 2010, you're not limited to six categories, you can create more. So, all I need to do to start is to be anywhere where I can access Categorize. So I can right-click any item and I can choose Categorize and then All Categories. I can select it here, if I'm in my Inbox or in a context folder. If I'm in my Calendar, I actually don't have access directly to Categorize, but I do if I select an item and as soon as I do I get that Calendar tools tab and I have Categorize again.
No matter how I get to the Categorize group, I want to choose All Categories. When I select All Categories, the Color Categories dialog box opens and shows me Color Categories and displays the Color Categories including showing me which ones are used by the current item because they have checkmarks. So what I'm going to do is I am going to actually create a whole new category that doesn't exist. I can easily go in of course and rename any of these just as I did when I used Orange and Green the first time, just click the Rename button if you wish.
If you want to get rid of a category, you don't want to use it at all, you can simply delete it, but I'd like to create a new category that doesn't exist already. And the category that I would like to create is a category for Errands. I can choose a color for that. There are 25 different colors you can use here. I've talked to a couple of graphic designers who told me that really you probably don't get good use out of more than about 16 to 18 of these, because when they stand alone it's really hard to discern let alone to remember the difference between Dark Peach and Dark Orange.
So think of these as color families. For example, all of the travel categories that I have are in the Orange-Peach range, so I use this color, the Dark Orange, the Dark Peach and then I use the Orange and the Peach. So Peach is what I use for rental cars, this is for hotels, this is for flights and trains and so on. I have another set that I use for budget and finance, for things like a financial proposal that needs to be end, for bank deposits that need to be made and I keep all of those in the Green family. So you can choose to use these as groups as set, so that when you see something that looks vaguely green, you'll know it's about finance, it's vaguely orange, you'll know that it's about travel or about a particular project.
I'm going to simply choose this Dark Blue for Errands and say OK and I've created a new custom category. I can also assign a shortcut key, I only have access to 11 of these and each of these is a combination of Ctrl and one of the Function keys, so you hold the Ctrl key down and you hit Function two (F2), Function three (F3) and so on. There's nothing that is going to remind you what these are used for. So if you had 11 categories unless you spent all day categorizing items and calendars you probably would forget what they were.
But if there are two or three that you use frequently, you might want to assign a shortcut key to one of them. So I might use for example Finance very frequently and say I'd like to assign a shortcut key to Finance, I'm going to assign Ctrl+F2, so that when I choose that, it will automatically assign the Finance category for me. I don't have to give every single category a different name. For example I might have Advertising and I might also have Marketing. Now those are two different things even though they're related, actually I might meet sometimes with advertising folks in my organization and I might have marketing meetings and to me they're a lot the same.
So I could create a new category. I could call it Marketing and I could choose to assign exactly the same color that I'm using for Advertising. So in my Calendar, they'd both be orange. However, I could still sort, filter and group by category and they are two separate categories. They just share a visual color in my Calendar for example. So this is the way you create a color category, let's see what it looks like to actually use the shortcut key here.
So if I choose an item and I hold Ctrl and I hit F2, notice that this is a recurring meeting and since I categorize one of them, they'll both be categorized. Again if I want to remove the category here, I can right-click, choose Clear All Categories and because it's recurring, the category will be removed from both meetings. If I go back to my Mailbox and I did some other categorizing, so for example here's another item that I could reasonably assign as Advertising, I have another item that I could reasonably say -- oh, that's about Finance, I actually have a few of those.
These have something to do with Finance as well. So one of the views I have access to is a view that's sorted not by date, but sorted by category. So if now I choose Categories, notice that I have first these items at the top, here that are in Advertising then Finance and so on, these other categories. If I go to my Calendar, you can see my categories quite easily, if I go to my Tasks list, on my To-Do List, I have this item, so I can say well, let's go back to View, show me my To-Do List by category and I'll see those have fallen a particular category and those have fallen none.
As you are creating categories, there are a number of different approaches you could take to this. If you have a handful of projects and you want to make sure that you're keeping track of the tasks that you do for those projects it would be good to create a category for each project. Then you can group the tasks by category and you're actually seeing them by Project. Another way to categorize is to think about what you'll be doing when you do a particular type of work. For example our category that was called Errands is very much a category that you might create if you had, for example a category called Errands, another category called Travel for when you are out of the office, another category called Computer for when you were doing work in the office at your desk.
So, sort of organizing your work by how it will be done. So project-based, tools and organizational-based is another. Some folks who support multiple staff people, if you're in a supporting role whether you're an IT or an administrative professional, you might set up a category for each of the people or the departments that you support and then you'll be able to easily go through and to sort all of your incoming email to see what department it's coming from, if you've assigned categories, in the same way that you could assign projects if you were project-based rather than support-based.
So think about how you'd like to use Categories to be able to help you better organize your work. Weather it's looking and saying I have five tasks for this project, 12 for this one and attack them in that manner or say here are the tasks that I have that are related to a particular person I support, before it go meet with them I want to make sure that I can go through all of the tasks that I have, that I need to complete. For instance say, yup, all the tasks that Bob assigned for me have all been done or all of the tasks that are related to the Northern California Expansion Project are done and I want to make sure that that's the case before I go to that meeting.
So, Categories again are a great tool to help you organize your work. Create as many categories as you wish and make sure that you keep them at a level where they're actually effective for you when you're using sorting and grouping as well as effective visually here in your Calendar.
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