Faithful LifeApps readers know that I don’t have a lot of patience with email and favor an aggressive approach to managing your Inbox.

Occasionally however, we’ll receive emails which require more time to respond to – and/or which don’t require a response immediately. OR… they’ll require collaboration with several colleagues who you’d like to meet with in order to formulate a response.

A little known technique enables you to add such messages to your calendar so you can formally schedule time for you – and your coworkers, if appropriate – to develop your response

Let’s say you get an email which requests your response by a certain date and you’re buried until that day or the day before. In this hypothetical case I’ve sent an email to myself asking that I complete a “marketing scorecard” by May 12th. Completing this task won’t require a lot of time, but let’s say I can’t deal with it until the 9th or I need to consult with someone who’s out of the office until then…

If I left click on the email, I can drag it down to the Calendar OR Task icon on the Outlook Bar. In this case, I’ve dragged it to the Task icon. I simply set the due date as 9AM on May 12th, and the start date as May 9th. Once I click on “Save and Close,” it’s set as a Task in Outlook. (Incidentally, all examples here are from Outlook 2003 – but this should work in Outlook 2007 as well.)

Similarly, the same process will actually set aside time for me to deal with the issue as a meeting on my calendar, were I to drag the email to the Calendar icon in the Outlook Bar. The full content of the email is captured in the task or meeting details.

NOTE: as shown below, the original email will remain in my Inbox. IF I delete it, the Task or Meeting will remain in Outlook.

Try this technique the next time you want to set aside time to deal with an important email.

As always, comments are welcome, and if you like what you see at LifeApps, please subscribe by clicking on the orange RSS button at the top of the right hand column. Content is updated daily, with a focus on productivity, marketing topics, DIY projects, and other items designed to help you enjoy your professional and personal lives to their fullest. Thanks for stopping by!!

-kc

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47 Comments on Outlook: Convert email messages into tasks or meetings!

  1. Oftherock says:

    Hi Kevin,
    I downloaded the expense tracking sheet and I was really blown away. Wow… I will be using it starting today. Great. I used to track my daily expenses but it was really incomplete because I did not get to track her expenses….

    Thanks Kevin.

    Oftherock

    [Reply]

  2. Hugh Donohue says:

    Kevin: Great tip! I have been using it for over a year now. I first discovered it when I found about Michael Linenberger, an Outlook and productivity consultant. His time and task-management system using Outlook can be found in his book “Total Workday Control Using Microsoft Outlook”. My time management, and especially my email management, improved at least 100% using his system. Nothing gets dropped unless I make the decision to prioritize the matter down, in favor of more important (not necessarily more urgent) matters.

    His book can be found at
    http://www.amazon.com/Total-Wo.....038;sr=8-1

    In addition to converting an email to a Task or an Appointment, he has tips to configure the Task Pad and Task Window to make them more useful. All three have made my task management much more effective.

    Thanks again for the tip!

    PS – Not sure how I missed this one the first time around…

    Best wishes…/Hugh Donohue

    [Reply]

  3. Amar says:

    Hi I was able to make an email into task but the attachments are missing in the task. Is there a way I could find the attachments too in the task.

    thanks
    Amar

    [Reply]

    Kevin Reply:

    Amar,
    Great question!! Here’s how to do it (sorry, this will be a bit lengthy)– drag the email to Tasks to create a new task; adjust dates as necessary, and minimize the task. Leave the task open. Go back to Outlook and open the email by double clicking. Minimize it. Get the new task and the email, both minimized, side by side on your desktop. Left click on the attachment in the email to highlight it. Right click on it and click “Copy.” Then go to the new task you’ve created; put your cursor in the body of the task detail. Right click, and click on “Paste.” Then save the Task. That should do it. Try it and let us know! kc

    [Reply]

    Scott Reply:

    Even simpler – after creating the task as described above just go back and drag and drop the original email into the body of the new task. Then you’ve got the everything…

    [Reply]

    Kevin Reply:

    Scott, you’re right. Since my original comment I began doing what you describe; in fact, I do the same basic thing when I create meetings from emails. Thx for the comment.

  4. Abid says:

    It worked great. Thank You Kevin.

    [Reply]

  5. Nathan Ellsworth says:

    Great tip. Is there a way to have Outlook convert a message into a meeting, and automatically have the To: and Cc: people on the email become the meeting invitees?

    [Reply]

    Kevin Reply:

    Nathan, you can drag a message into your Outlook calendar, but you’re going to have to manually set up everything – date, start and end times, attendees, etc. But the body of the message should show up in the meeting invitation. (I am writing this from memory, but think I’ve got it right.) Thanks for commenting! kc

    [Reply]

    cadafauixtepo Reply:

    FYI – Time Saving Tip — I dragged and dropped the email to the calendar and clicked on invite attendees. I was able to copy paste all the people on the email to the To section. I just needed to open the original e-mail and click reply to all to make them easy to copy

    [Reply]

    Titus Reply:

    Good tip thanks. Just a shame Microsoft did not think to put the receipts in the email automatically into the Meeting invite list. Seems obvious that the same recipient in the email are going to be in the meeting invite. I’l see if can get some feedback to Microsoft.

    [Reply]

  6. Kristen says:

    Hi Kevin,

    I like the ability to drag an email into the task folder, but what happens when I want to respond to that email?

    Everytime I do this, the email body comes up, but I’m unable to hit reply, and then I spend more time digging through my folders to find the original email and click respond.

    Any ideas?

    Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Kevin Reply:

    Kristen,

    Thanks for commenting. With Outlook 2003 (yeah, I know!) if I drag an email to Tasks, I can set it up as a task, establish a due date, etc. The original email stays in my Inbox – so I can move it to a folder, save it to my hard drive, or leave it in the Inbox. If I need to respond, forward, or otherwise react to the message, I can do so.

    Perhaps you’re using 2007 and it’s different?

    [Reply]

    Chris Reply:

    Hi,

    I try to use the same method on Outlook 2010 but nothing happen on task or calendar. Any idea what could went wrong ?

    [Reply]

    Kevin Reply:

    Chris,

    Sorry, I’m using Outlook 2003 (I know, I know) and it works just fine – I use it at least a couple times a week. Perhaps someone else can comment.

  7. Joel says:

    Actually I found that if you rightclick and drag the email to the task icon it prompts you to create a task with the email as an attachment which copies the actual email and any attachments. This might be useful.

    [Reply]

  8. d3l3t3m3 says:

    Another tip:

    You can RIGHT+CLICK and drag/drop the e-mails to calendar/tasks. This will allow you to create the object with the e-mail attached to it.

    [Reply]

  9. Lara says:

    Hi,

    Is there a way to go the other way? I have a huge list of tasks with contact, due date, percentage done, etc. attached and I would like to see all of these tasks appear on my calendar on their due date with all of their information. Is there a way to do this? I haven’t had any luck dragging and dropping in calendar as it just creates a new appointment on the current date, not the due date of the task. Any help would be GREATLY appreciated.

    Thanks,

    [Reply]

    Kevin Reply:

    Lara,

    I won’t be able to check this out myself for a few days, but when you drag a task to the calendar and it creates a new appointment on the current date, can’t you change that date? — to your task due date?

    [Reply]

    Lara Reply:

    Hi Kevin,

    Thanks for getting back to me. When I drag the task into the calendar it creates a new appointment with the current date (today’s date). I can change the date to be the due date of the task but all other info, the percentage done, who the team for the task is, etc. is in the body of the calendar appointment. I was just wondering if there is a way to keep that functionality on top where the start/end time and day are?

    Also, i just figured out that if you drag a task and drop it into the to-do bar calendar on the date that its due, it creates an appointment on that date. I think I just solved my problem. :)

    Thanks,

    [Reply]

  10. Tony says:

    Is there a way to carry over the adresses as well. For example If I receive an email form a list of users. I want those same users to attend the meeting. If i click and drag the email to the calendar i loose the addresses and have to reneter them

    Thank you

    [Reply]

    Kevin Reply:

    Tony: this is based on Outlook 2003 – with the message open, click on “Reply to All.” Put your cursor in the address bar, click Ctrl-A to highlight everything, and copy all the addresses. Go to your calendar and double click on the time you want to have the meeting. Click on the “Scheduling” tab and enter the name of ONE of the attendees; go back to the “Appointment” tab and paste in all the names of the attendees. Fill in the other info, and you should be good to go.

    Let me know if this does not work for some reason. Thanks for the question!

    [Reply]

  11. Lliam says:

    Is there a way to set up a rule that will automatically set emails with a specific category/flag colour to have a task for completion in three days from when the email is received?

    Is there also a way to duplicate the task to another email account such as management?

    [Reply]

    Kevin Reply:

    You can set up a rule whereby flagged messages are set for follow-up within a specified number of days, but I’m not aware of how you would create a related task — perhaps someone else can comment.

    [Reply]

    Joe Reply:

    You can have the rule also copy the message into a specific folder, in this case, the TASK folder. It will create a task but you will need to open the task and edit the details. The rule basically does the same as if you were to drop a message on to the TASK folder but it keeps the message in your inbox too.

    [Reply]

  12. Valerie says:

    Can contact information in an email be “dragged & dropped” into my contacts without having to retype the info. in the proper boxes, i.e. name, phone number, address, email, etc.? I see it can be done in tasks & calendar, so I’m hoping this is possible.

    Thanks.

    [Reply]

    Kevin Reply:

    Valerie,

    It works, but you might have to transfer, or cut and paste, some of the info into a few of the fields.

    [Reply]

  13. Edward says:

    Well, I never knew that! Fantastic – a million thanks!

    [Reply]

  14. scott says:

    I convert a lot of my emails to tasks via dragging & dropping to the task icon (from my Inbox screen) -and then I prioritise and complete them in the tasks screen. This can be tiresome having to click ‘save&close’ in the dilogue box that pops up each time.

    Is there anyway to stop each drag & drop action from opening the new task dialog box? for example, just drag and drop to the task icon and have it convert and save as task with the default settings?

    thanks

    [Reply]

    Kevin Reply:

    Scott,

    I don’t think you can avoid the Task properties/dialog box.

    [Reply]

  15. jane says:

    My emails are automatically going to my tasks. How can I undo that? I don’t drag them; they just appear.
    Would appreciate any help anyone has.

    [Reply]

  16. Roxie Lyons says:

    When I sync tasks from my Blackberry phone to Office 2010, the field is too small to accept the whole task if it is longer than 150 characters. How do I expand the field to accept an infinite number of characters? My previous versions of Office did not limit the size of the tasks.

    [Reply]

  17. CA says:

    This was exactly what I was looking for. Because I used another option to put a date reminder on the old outlook, I did not know this method for the new outlook. Your “how to do” description was done well. Thank you so much!!

    [Reply]

  18. Renu says:

    We are into education and the help I want is:

    I am using the task list to create and update tasks. But when the task owner sends a reply with a message with the task status, the message appears in the mail box, how do we get this message to be viewed along with the tasks that I have assigned, in the task window. If I drag and drop it will save as a new row but does not link itself to the task.

    Please help in this regard, Thanking you with anticipation…

    [Reply]

  19. Emma says:

    I am finding that certain emails, especially those sent from iPhones are dumping into my ‘tasks’ instead of going to my inbos. Any advice?

    Thank you so much.

    [Reply]

    Kevin Reply:

    Emma: Wow. Haven’t a clue. Is this a work account or personal? If work, definitely chat with your IT folks.

    [Reply]

    Emma Reply:

    It’s my work email, but unfortunately the IT guys have no clue… so I’m trawling the internet! Thanks anyway :)

    [Reply]

  20. Bernard says:

    I have always wanted to be able to automatically create a task that would result from an e-mail that I send to one of my team mates. Any thoughts on how this might be done short of just creating a task assignment? Sometimes the e-mails can be fairly long or include attachments that result in the need for one or more peopple to respond. Any thoughts? Thanks – Bernard

    [Reply]

  21. Deb says:

    I am the email point of contact for 50+ people from multiple departements that send their job requests to me. In any given day, I can get 40-50 different job requests.

    In turn, I assign the job requests to employees to complete. The employees are to respond to me and the original sender with their response.

    My problem is the tracking to make sure that assignments are completed.

    Currently I send the request and cc myself. I move the original email, my cc in a folder that I have marked assigned. When the person that received the assigment lets me know its completed, I move the original email from assigned to completed along with the response and delete my cc.

    As you guessed it, this does not work out well. On top of this, my email box gets about 400 emails per work day. (yikes)

    I have been told that I need to make sure that I make the assignments completed daily AND I have to follow up on uncompleted tasks.

    Any help on how to manage this in outlook 2003 on a network would be appreciated. This is a new process and I am trying to insure that I have a handle on this.

    [Reply]

  22. sachin says:

    Nice tip…

    [Reply]

  23. Keith G. says:

    Kevin, using Outlook 2007, if I receive an e-mail from a person and there are other recipients listed and I want to invite them all to a meeting, how can I do this. I googled and found someone saying something about “reply with meeting request.” I do not have that option. I checked in my customize toolbar area to see if it was an option I could add to my toolbar, but it isn’t there. Any suggestions?

    Thanks,
    Keith G.
    Pensacola

    [Reply]

    Kevin Reply:

    Keith,

    I’m still (!) using Outlook 2003. In 2003, all I can do is drag the email to Calendar and then manually add the attendees. The email will appear in the meeting notes. Sorry I can’t be of more help.

    [Reply]

  24. Carol says:

    Is it possible to add a link to outlook of individual items in an email? Example:

    Monday: lecture on eating. “click this link to attend”
    Tuesday: lecture on sleeping. “click this link to attend”
    etc.

    [Reply]

    Kevin Reply:

    Carol,

    You can email an iCalendar attachment in an email. The recipient can use the iCalendar link to add the event to his/her calendar.

    But I’m not certain that’s what you’re getting at. Can you describe a specific situation in which you’d use this?

    [Reply]

  25. Carol says:

    I use Outlook 2010

    [Reply]

  26. Danielle says:

    Great Tips! I will never forget an appointment or task again! Thank you!

    [Reply]

  27. Carol says:

    I am a delegate for my boss and create all of his calendar items but if I follow these tips to create a meeting/task/appt. from one of his emails, it still goes to MY calendar and not to his, so I still have to copy and paste everything. Any solution to that??

    [Reply]

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