Setting up my “Control Panel” in Outlook

Office 365 / SharePoint Blog

In a previous post, I mentioned that I generally follow the advice of Sally McGhee and John Wittry in “Take Back Your Life: Using Microsoft Outlook 2007 to get organized and stay organized” when setting up my Outlook. They have a slightly different twist on David Allen’s “Getting Things Done”, which is a method of task and time management that I have followed for close to a decade now. You will see me refer to GTD more than once in coming posts, I am sure.

A great resource for setting up your Control Panel is “Office 2013 All-In-One Absolute Beginners Guide.” It contains step-by-step instructions for setting up things as I am about to describe.

Set up your To-Do Bar

From the View tab, click on To-Do Bar and turn on the Calendar to-do bar, then turn on the Tasks to-do bar. I personally don’t like seeing the agenda – I just like seeing the calendar in the top, so I slide the tasks section up to where it just shows the calendar and hides the agenda. I don’t use the contacts bar.

The tasks to do bar is really my bread and butter. It shows all the emails I have flagged, and any tasks I have set for myself. It does not include the tasks I keep in SharePoint, but that’s for a different post.

Folder Pane

I also customize the Folder Pane and choose Options, a maximum of 4 visible items and choose Compact Navigation. I don’t like wasted real estate on my screen if I can help it, and so I now have four icons at the bottom of my window. Not that it really matters, but I have Mail, Calendar, Contacts, and Tasks listed as my top 4.

Follow Up Default

The next step is setting my default follow up to be next week. Click on the follow up button and choose Set Quick Click. Choose your default option.

Views for different purposes

I set my calendar to show a work view. You can manage your views or control panels by folder, or by type of work you’re doing. So, I saved one for my default view when I am in emails and applied that to all the folders. Then I created a different view for when I am in calendar mode.


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