Friday, September 04, 2009

Email enabling your Outlook 2007 To Do List

I use the Outlook 2007 Tasks, aka To Do List, regularly at work.  Occasionally when I’m out and about and I think of something I need to do, I send myself an email from my iPhone (before my memory is garbage-collected) because I know if I fail to write it down immediately it will be lost from my memory forever.  Then the next day, I can take that email and copy it into my to-do list, set a follow-up date, a project category, etc.

Wouldn’t it be nice if I could just have that all triggered from the email itself?  I thought so, and I started imagining how I could program a script or Outlook Add-on to handle it.  But thankfully, anyone can do this very easily using just built-in Rules for Outlook 2007.

First, create a new rule in Outlook by clicking Tools > Rules & Alerts.  I chose to Start with a Blank Rule then clicked the Check messages when they arrive option.

On the first step of the wizard, I selected a few conditions.  I wanted this to only run if the message was sent only to me, was sent only from one of my few email addresses, and only if there were specific words in the subject.  I entered TODO: as the specific word that triggers the action.


For step 2 of the wizard, I chose to mark the email message as read, flag it for follow up, assign a specific category and move it into another folder (i.e. out of my Inbox)


And that’s it!  Click past step 3, and then click Finish.  The system works great, with the only downside that Outlook must be running for this rule to work.  I leave it running usually while I’m away, so that is not an issue. 

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