The Daily Task List: Tasks on the Calendar

Part of efficient time management is making time for one’s tasks. To help our customers get an accurate view of their time commitments, we have added the Daily Task List in the Calendar.

Outlook 12 Calendar

The Daily Task List sits below the main calendar surface and shows tasks arranged by start date or due date. In this way, you can see your tasks along with your appointments to get a full picture of what you need to do on a given day or over a week. For example, on Friday I have more appointments than on Thursday, which means that I have less time for tasks on Friday.

Outlook 12 Calendar: Daily Task List Close Up

The Daily Task List is a great place to balance your tasks and appointments. You can rearrange these tasks by dragging them from one day to the next. If you know that a particular task is going to take some time, you can drag it onto the Calendar to make an appointment - without coercing a dialog. For example, I know that a customer call always takes some time, so I dragged a task "Call Customer" onto the Calendar to create an appointment. Once I finish the call, I can mark the corresponding task complete. Dragging a task onto the calendar creates a 30 minute appointment and keeps the task in your task list. Once the appointment is on the Calendar, you can move it, drag it to make it a longer or shorter appointment, or open it to add more information; it is just an appointment. You can drag a task onto the calendar multiple times - sometimes one 30 minute block of time isn't enough. In the task, there is a note in the infobar letting you know when scheduled time in your calendar to do the task.

The tasks that are shown in the Daily Task List are the same tasks that are shown on the To-Do Bar, and in the same order – rearranging one effects the other. Like the To-Do Bar, uncompleted tasks roll over to the next day. Tasks without a start date or due date don't show up in the Daily Task List. The calendar and the Daily Task List together can be used as a record of how you have spent your time and what you have accomplished; regardless of the arrangement, completed tasks appear on the day they were completed. If you like a cleaner look, you can also turn off showing completed tasks all together. 

Like the To-Do Bar and the Navigation Pane, the Daily Task List can be minimized or expanded to provide more room for viewing the calendar surface, as shown below. When the Daily Task List is minimized, it shows you the number of active and completed tasks over the period shown. You can minimize the Daily Task List either through the View menu or by dragging it closed. Similarly, you can expand the Daily Task List to show more tasks by dragging it.

Outlook 12 Calendar: Everything Minimized

Throughout the product, we wanted to make it easy for you to enter tasks – to get them out of your head. Like the easy task entry line in the To-Do Bar, you can enter tasks directly into the Daily Task List. Click anywhere in the Daily Task List to enter a new task. The new task will appear in the column where you clicked.

Close up on "Click to Add Task"

Hopefully you will find the Daily Task List a useful addition to the overall task management suite.

Comments (30)

  1. Brian says:

    What great features! I can’t wait for the final release! Thanks for the overview.

  2. JPMcDonald says:

    Having a daily task list below the calendar could be extremely powerful. It gives you at least an idea of the time committment you’ve made for the day. What would be really great is if there were a way that in addition to the time commitment you’ve got for appointments the discretionary time you’ve committed could be displayed as well. An easy way to do this would be to change the color of the background on the calendar (Grey out or something similar) based on the Remaining Work estimated for the daily tasks. e.g. Total Work less %complete…

    Alternately the size (Height) of the task widgets could coincide with their estimated Work effort.

  3. Kefir says:

    It just so happens that I am researching at the moment ways to implement the basic time&task management techniques with Outlook. I am glad that Melissa and her team have looked for inspiration at GTD (David Allen) and PlanPlus (Franklin Covey).

    I am very encouraged by what I see so far slated for the next Outlook. Daily Task list is brilliant.

    The one major feature that I haven’t seen mentioned so far is hierarchical tasks: multi-level grouping of tasks akin to Word outline and PlanPlus Projects. That is a basic requirement for any kind of effective task management, I belive several people mentioned it in other posts as well.

    Melissa, can we expect that feature in Outlook 12?

  4. Nuno Lopes says:

    I’ve been using Outlook and PlanPlus for Tablet PC together becouse I’m forced to. The main reason I use PlanPlus is becouse it supports ink all the way plus the way it presents information. I ink an appointment, task, contacts, drag and drop items with a pen, etc. "What I write is what I see" and that is awesome feature in PlanPlus. Will I see that in Outlook 12? Solutions like TEO are at most cumbersome. How can the best personal agenda/planning system as Outlook 12 probably pretends to be will probably not seamlessly support ink nowardays? OneNote is awesome, but true inking facilities needs not to stop there in Office. Hope I see improvements on this in Outlook. Tired of using paper based planning systems, combined with outlook and planplus.

    Best regards.


  5. Jean-Michel lasne says:

    I’ve been looking for some time about information about task list management.

    In particular, the best way to work simultaneously with Outlook, Project and Sharepoint. Today (in 2003 environement), we have to manage independant tasks and calendars in Project files, Outlook clients and Sharepoint task or events lists.

    I found out a blog about WSS3 and tasks( which sent me to your blog, which doesn’t give me more clues about it.

    Do you know where I can find relevant information about the way to handle globally tasks in O12 environement ?



  6. Alex says:

    Melissa, thanks for your blog! These descriptions help me to use even O2003 much more efficiently!

  7. I love the graphical overhaul in Outlook. It looks much prettier and despite what many think, it’s very important for a product like Outlook to be easy on the eyes because many people look at it for hours a day.

    Hey Nuno, hope you’ll check out TEO 3.0. While it may be cumbersome to have an add on for ink input in Outlook, there’s nothing integrated from MS on the horizon.

    Give TEO 3 a look at

  8. Jim McGowan says:

    While this is a slight improvement (very slight), why couldn’t the tasks be incorporated into the calendar itself? Why not just place the tasks on each day – within that day’s individual block? Seems to still be a mindset that tasks must be separated from time; that if a task is timebound, it should be a meeting or appointment.

    Not true. Outlook 12 will still offer no meaningful task management, it appears.

    Without calendar incorporation, and a hierarchy, how does one truly manage tasks in Outlook?  (Answer: They don’t!)

  9. m | power says:

    A column by Jason Fry in the WSJ (registration required) talks about how he’s changing how he uses his…

  10. Doug Haworth says:

    I have been a long time user of outlook and version 12 looks promising, however there is no doubt that whomever does the programming for outlook must not truly understand task management. For tasks to be managed properly you must have hierarchical available and definitely tasks have to become incorporated into a calendar. Without scheduling of tasks which requires time committments there is no way to effectively incorporate them into the calendar. A product like taskline is of some help but again it is too structured to be of service to those who plan daily. Simple things like marking an appointment as completed and then scheduling a follow through is just not plausible with outlook. Our company has struggled for years with outlook and in the end we still have had to go with addons to accomplish true task and time management needs. Why the programmers of outlook cannot seem to get it right is baffling. As my boss said, perhaps the people who program this software just don’t use it for anything other than email. The simple changes that are needed to make outlook truly beneficial would take very little time to incorporate. What seems to be the problem?

  11. m | power says:

    The tickler file is another concept that I first encountered in David Allen’s Getting Things Done, though…

  12. Nigel says:

    It is about time!!  This has been on ongoing request since at least 1998.  

  13. john says:


    Anyone had Outlook’s 2003 plan plus plug-in having a problem holding compass big rocks.

    I’ve been trying to search for a fix for a year, I tried all the suggested fixes: Sunday 1st day: check the check boxes in plan plus options: close outlook relaunch : get netframe update, but still no joy.

    Ironically I set a joke goal in the sharpen the saw goals in June and it holds that rolling over the weeks. But not the big rocks on ‘Sunday’ 9th April 2006, in the 10 roles I set for myself.

    I think Stephen Covey got it right in the book, but the plug in is not working, in compass, holding big rocks and it’s like having a diary again, having to re-enter your info every week.

    There is even a possible solution on Franklin Coveys Technical support pages for Outlook [but its not in Outlook pages you have to search entire site to find it] for Outlook 2003 suggesting that this is a good thing!! Because you need to relook at you life on a weekly basis anyway.

    Err No it’s Not. But we don’t want to move house every week which is what they’re suggesting in this gem of a technical fix.

    Obviously the employee who wrote that one, ought to have a look at the book again, because having the big rocks in all your roles with you and available anytime anywhere is what Steven Covey teaches, so we can be effective 1st & work on efficiencies second. we don’t want to redo things we understand and have delt with in a fundamental way.

    This means we are achieving our big rocks and ultimately big goals, dealing with the problems from the root solving for good, things we had been fighting for years.

    But not when you lose your big rocks that you didn’t complete last week and will most likely have another crack at this week if only you could see it in this weeks compass and not forget it because it don’t roll over.’

    when I bought ‘the seven habits of highly effective people’ book, it boasted 10 million copies sold in 17 languages ish, so at least that number will be encountering this problem eventually,’ and its one that needs a fix, because its so pivotal to the work. Tools need to do their job or they get replaced.    

  14. man says:

    Subject: RE: Big Rocks not carried forward Issues. (LTK30015972132X)

    Dear Joshua,

    To copy everything out of plan plus’s apps, is a mamouth task the way you suggest, I have the outlook .pst file backed up and i’d prefer to re-install using that file and creating a new .pst profile then rename after deletion of the data if the detect and repair tool deletes it.

    You reminded me of another issue with Outlook Plan plus, the projects folder enters the data onto the task list [where it’s not wanted] I havent got into that bit deeply yet, as i didn’t like what it did when migrating from Schedule Plus. and I manually copied and pasted 1500 tasks into 110 projects. All the data is still there. [Also private checked folders or tasks are unchecked upon an import under data file management/file import/export in Outlook]

    Obviously this is an issue too, because its not desirable to have all the projects showing on the task list in Outlook, because the’re ‘Projects’ and need to be seperated within a Project, under Parent/child tasks from there they can then be bought onto the Goals page, But that is an issue too, the goals page does not allow the user to collate the goals from within thier respective roles unless you create them. However when you create the Roles in the goals page to gain Order over the goals and to associate the roles which drive/govern them, you aren’t able to use the parent child task feature as its not built into or activated in the goals page.

    This means if one enters a goal it has to be as a Intermeadiate step because the roles have now taken the position of a Goal in the [Goals Page] Now you need to enter tasks for the gaols but you can’t make them intermeadiate steps because the option has been used already.

    The project parent child task feature is needed in the goals page. And also all the goals are deleted when you re-install anyway. The goals which I changed to represent roles are kept but the Intermeadiate steps are deleted, so I haven’t used the goals feature for a while as I lost them on installing a few times ago.

    Which is why I contacted you chaps for a fix because I’d been using the compass to act as a roles & goals page


    1] it shows all the roles they don’t change often,

    2] the goals can stay in their roles and roll over where I see them weekly and can assign them to a day and then an activity within that day, except it only works if the roles and their goals, roll over. Intrestingly the roles roll over each week.

    I’m currently using an excel spread sheet for the roles and goals and missions are kept in word docs, and I’m learning Microsoft project 2003 to see if it will provide a solution and allow me to apply the Seven habits process from within there.

    I did try the fix you suggest having read it on the help index somewhere, but it didn’t work.

    Thanks for your help anyway maybe the boffins need to take a look at it and provide a fix.

    Kind regards

  15. Here is a post from Hank Leukart about the Outlook 12 Calendar.


    Over the past 15 years,…

  16. Recently, I received the following e-mail and I thought I would post my response:

    Hi Melissa,


  17. John says:

    Has anyone used the palmtop/handheld from the early to mid-1990’s?  The HP100LX or the HP200LX had the To Do and Appointment features right the first time.  It is surprising that Outlook has not been able to implement the basic features required for time management given that a near perfect model already existed.

    Of course the HP100LX/200LX did not have everything.  What it had were the most important things:  

    1. A rolling To-Do list by date like the one that is only being developed now for Outlook 12.  

    2. A simple sort field that gives one a easy method to code priorities and categories as one wishes.

    3. And the planning essentials such as the calendar and the clock are always visible on the screen.

    Most Outlook users don’t need anything fancy.  Just a simple Daily Task List that one can easily prioritize and status with simple keystrokes would help.

    Let’s get the Outlook development team to start using a simple To-do list to priortize the implementation of the most important features first.  

    Also recommend checking out Developer One Agenda Fusion.  THAT looks a product designed and implemented by people who use time management to do their work effectively.

    Pardon my angst, but 10 years of Outlook and still there is no useful daily To-Do list?  Give me a break!

    Good luck team.  

  18. Liam Goudge says:

    Many nice new features.

    However, the task manager is still missing some form of hierarchy management. This is a gating feature that makes Outlook useable (or not) as a task management system.

  19. Now that Beta2 is out, it seems like high time I explain how I use the new time management system in…

  20. Aquiles says:

    I’ve seen that a typical cause of delays are that the project team is not focus in their daily activities and the personal task managing normally is poor.

    To avoid that situation I take the tasks that are in the project schedule and insert them as appointments into the Outlook Calendar. I don’t like to handle them as tasks because there are more chances that a person could not pay attention to those tasks and if there is not time allocated to do the task it is not normally done. I’d like to go to a lower level of scheduling and put the specific task into a day and into some hours in the calendar. I’ve been doing this manually, but it is a difficult task that takes much of my time, specially when you have to replan and move the dates or hours of some appointment.

    This Outlook 12 could do something to synchronize (in both ways) MS Project and Outlook Calendar. I imagine the following scenario:

    Scenario 1

    1: You create a task named "Analyze Requirements" into MS Project with a duration of two days with 4 hours of effort in total. Starting on September 4th, and finishes in September 5th. In September 4th you say that the task starts at 9:00 am and ends at 11:00 and the same for September 5th. You place the following note: “Objective: Gather the requirements from the marketing area” into both taks in MS Project

    2: You synchronize with Outlook Calendar

    3: Into Outlook Calendar two appointments are created. Analyze Requirements created in September 4th, from 9:00 to 11:00 and other task also named Analyze Requirements created in September 5th. From 9:00 to 11:00. In both appointments the note ““Objective: Gather the requirements from the marketing area” is placed.

    Scenario 2

    1: For any reason the task of September 5th is changed to September 7th.

    2: You move the appointment in the Outlook calendar to September 7th, from 11:00 to 13:00

    3: In MS Project this tasks is changed

    Having this kind of functionality will save me (and my partners) a lot of time in schedulling and managing our plans.

    Does Outlook 12 will help in managing this? Is there other software around there that could cope with this functionality.

  21. Dan Maltes says:

    I agree with other users that Tasks should appear in the Calendar by default.  They could be color coded or symbolized seperately from appointments, but it’s important that they do appear in the Calendar.  Afer all, the calendar is the primary focus of many Outlook users, so placing tasks within them fits much better into the way users do their work.

  22. Dan Maltes says:

    To expand on my previous post, the Office team needs to think broader about calendars than just having them represent appointments.  They need to think "activities".  Thinking this way will pull-in both appointments and tasks into the same calendar more naturally and fit better with users goals and their workflow.

    Dragging tasks into an appointment calendar is not fluid and does not focus on activities, like users do.

  23. The following is the first in a series of two posts from Jon Kaufthal, a program manager from the Project

  24. Hi.

    I am looking for above software

  25. Greg says:

    Like many of the previous posters, I too have been frustrated with the lack of task management capabilities in previous versions of Outlook (i.e., hierarchical tasks and tasks integrated into the calendar).  But the Daily Task List at least seemed like a move in the right direction so I downoaded the trial version of Outlook 2007.

    Is it truely impossible to sort tasks alphabetically, or by category, on the Daily Task List?  I only see options for sorting by start or due date. Having that capability would at least allow me to simulate hierarchical tasks by prefacing related tasks with the same phrase (e.g., "NSF proposal – 1) revise budget" , "NSF proposal – 2) submit final version", etc.)

    And why hasn’t this fundamental sorting behavior yet been implemented in teh outlook today screen?

    Please, oh please, tell me I just have to wade through some menus to tweak the settings for the program to accomplish this.

  26. Greg M says:

    did you ever figure out how to sort tasks by subject?  if so, tell me how?  i hate that i can’t do it now!

  27. Cat says:

    For sorting by Subject, I replaced the "Task Subject" field with the "Subject" field and it works.  Now to figure out how to stop it from grouping every time I sort.

  28. Harl Rosenthal says:

    Sorting tasks by subject:  Why is the sort in the Outlook Today unable to choose *every* column?  Word can do it, Excel can do it . . . Why does every program from Microsoft appear to have come from a completely different development shop?

  29. David says:

    Is there a way to filter the tasks that appear on the calendar?  I know how to filter those on the Task Pad, but don’t see an obvious way to filter those on the calendar.

  30. Matt says:

    My organization uses Outlook 2003.  Is there *anything* that can be used now along these lines?

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