So Happy Together: Combine OneNote and Outlook for a Powerful Task Management System

Combine OneNote and Outlook

Keeping track of your progress and organizing your tasks can be a challenge in itself! But, having reminders for your work schedule will help keep you on top of upcoming projects and assignments day by day. This week’s tips and tricks will save you some trouble and help you find a task management tool already built into Office365. Read on to find out the best way to stay on top of your assignments and work better with your teams using OneNote and Outlook task integration!

Outlook’s tasks feature is simple and basic. If you want to power up Outlook tasks with organization and room for details, integrate the awesome note-taking tool, OneNote, with Outlook. Setting up this integration is quick and painless and can improve your productivity and organization to make you a super employee!

How to Start Using Outlook Tasks

A task tracking feature of Microsoft’s email program, Outlook Tasks is a tool you can use to set reminders and track tasks in OneNote with Outlook. Setting an Outlook Task is easy. To make a new task in OneNote, first place your cursor next to the content you want to link to the task. This will link to whatever you want: a page title, a paragraph, photo, table, etc. Then in the Tags group, click the flag icon to bring down a drop-down menu to set the reminder date. Clicking Custom opens an Outlook window, which enables the Outlook Task to be detailed, delegated, edited, and more.

All your Outlook Tasks will be collected and listed in Outlook (not OneNote) under the Task pane. Here you can review, sort, complete, edit, create, and view all your tasks. The default sort method is by date, putting the Tasks in order by due date. Your Tasks that have a red title are past due and will be in the Today group.

Similar to the calendar and people components in Outlook, there is a pop up (aka Peek) pane, which you can keep open to the left. This pane lists all your Tasks, lets you start new tasks, complete tasks, and open tasks. You can sort the pane by right-clicking the “Arrange by” text. From the bottom of your folder list, you can click the clipboard with a check mark icon to switch your Outlook view from mail to tasks

Maximize the Usefulness of Tasks

There are different ways you can view your Tasks in Outlook. If you look in the ribbon on the Home tab there is a group called Current View. From here you change how your Tasks are displayed to fit your needs. If you assign a lot of Tasks, then Assigned would be a good view. If you are focusing on late Tasks, then Overdue would be the view for you. Personally, I stick with the To-Do List view for an overview of what I need to get done.

Like email, when you click on a Task in the list opens more detail in the view pane. While viewing Tasks in the list there are three icons to the right of ever Task. They are: the folder icon, the category icon, the flag icon. The folder icon signifies if the Task was created as a task (clipboard and checkmark icon) or was created from an email (blank or auto-reply icon).

Decoding the Symbols in Outlook Tasks

The middle icon signifies the category the task belongs to; if none have been assigned it will be white and the final icon is the flag icon. A bold flag signifies that your task is due today. A lighter flag signifies it is due in the future. Clicking the flag icon will complete the task and hide it from your To-Do list.

Double-clicking a task will pop it out into its own window and provide you with more options. From this popped-out view, you can set all the per-Task options. Such as reminders, start and due dates, complete percentage, priority, status, recurrence, categories, follow up and assignees. Tasks behave like a combination of emails and meetings in Outlook.

When you are starting an Outlook Task from OneNote there will be a link to the location in OneNote where the Task was started. This makes it easy to alert co-workers to action items, meeting notes, issues list, and more. OneNote, however, does not track and update the status of the Task; for that you need to use Outlook.

Get Started with A OneNote Task Management Notebook

First, open up OneNote and create a new Notebook just dedicated to Task Management.

Now inside the Task Management notebook, you can create new sections for each individual project that you’re currently working on. Keep in mind each tab should be a separate project and each page within the tab should be a separate task. This will allow you to keep all of your notes for each task on a unique page for more detail. If you are just looking to manage your daily tasks, you could create a tab for a to-do list and then each daily tasks would be a page.

All the tasks in your Outlook Tasks page will typically fall under one project or another. Unfortunately, in Outlook, it is not as easy to visually organize these tasks by project. They all simply show up in a big, lengthy list. There is the category to work with, but that is just a column. Visually, the list looks quite intimidating.

But by adding sections in OneNote for each project, you’re creating this nice, clean visual layout that lets you organize all of your tasks visually into projects (which we’ll get to in a moment).

So, now that you’ve got OneNote set up with projects, you can start loading it up with Tasks as they come up.

Using Your New Task-to-OneNote Integration

Whether new tasks arise from an email your boss sends you, assignments provided by a project manager, or anywhere else, the process is the same; create the task in Outlook Tasks, highlight it (by clicking on the task) and then click the OneNote icon at the top of the Tasks page.

What happens when you do this is magic.

First, OneNote will ask you what section you want to place this new “page” into. This is where you select the Project where this task belongs

Once you do that, OneNote will automatically import the Task from Outlook into that OneNote section as a new page.

Once again, sections (tabs) are projects, and pages are tasks. So, with this setup in OneNote, all of your projects will be listed along the left navigation bar. As you click on a project, you’ll see all of the related tasks along the right side navigation bar.

Once you’ve used this setup for a few days, you’ll appreciate just how intuitive and clean it is. Even if you have 4 or 5 projects all going on at once, this setup allows you to focus right in on a specific project and see only the tasks associated with it, without all of the clutter of unrelated tasks.

Keeping Your Task Records Organized

By bringing your tasks into OneNote, you provide a central space where everything related to that task can be organized. And the things that you can organize on your Task page in OneNote is impressive.

You can insert tables of data (or insert an actual Excel spreadsheet if you like), attach any kind of file, take screen clippings, insert pictures or scanned images, make audio recordings, and of course add all the hyperlinks you like.

You could even create another to-do list within this individual task. What you organize in this space is completely up to you, but the point is that it allows you a centralized location to focus in on your task, without wasting time hunting through you directories for related files. Link everything here, and it’s all at your fingertips.

To Learn more about OneNote and Outlook or how you can begin using these features, contact Onpar Technologies at