Hidden Pages

Email tip #6 - How to Convert an e-mail to a Task or Calendar item


When the NEXT ACTION for an e-mail will take more than two minutes, it can be converted to a Task or Calendar item. In this way, you can take an incoming task (that usually arrives unexpectedly, uninvited and often un-negotiated) and turn it into planned, prioritised work to be done at a more appropriate time. 

As a result, you’ll work in a more calendar-based, plan-driven and pro-active manner instead of an inbox-based, interruption-driven, reactive way!

Here’s how to convert an e-mail to a Task or Calendar item;

  • Click on the e-mail message to select it.
  • Left click on the message and hold as you drag and drop e-mail message to the Task or Calendar folder. If the message has an attachment, right click, drag and drop and select either Copy Here as Appointment with Attachment (leaving the original in the in-box to then be moved to an appropriate folder) OR Move Here as Appointment with Attachment. Alternatively, you can use the shortcut keys to copy (Ctrl + C) or cut (Ctrl + X) the e-mail and then go to your Calendar where you can see your overall schedule and then click on the appropriate date and time and then paste (Ctrl + V) the message.

To ensure you stay in control of the task:

  • Make sure the Subject line description is action-oriented (the first word must be an adjective or ‘doing’ word).
  • Select an appropriate colour for this task (under the Categorise icon)
  • Establish the Priority, add a Reminder if necessary, make it Recurring if appropriate.
  • click Save and Close

Converting to Task or Calendar: which is better? 

When converting an e-mail, you have a choice of moving it to your Task or Calendar . . .  but which would be best? 

The problem with adding another item to your Task list is that it doesn’t address the question of when you will do it! Most of us don’t have a problem knowing what we need to get done; it’s deciding when we will do it that is the struggle! Given that we have to make that decision sooner or later, it is better to decide on the next action required as the work ‘shows up’ rather than waiting till things are about to ‘blow up’ with a pending deadline or other crisis. 

Take a little extra time to ask yourself ‘how long will this take?’, and then look at your Calendar to see ‘when do I have time?’ and ‘when would be the best time?’ for scheduling this task. Questions like these help you to be much more realistic about the amount of work you’re taking on, how long it will take to complete and integrating it with what you already have in your workload. Your Calendar will then quickly tell you when you are overloaded and make it easier to then negotiate workload and timeframes accordingly, instead of being overwhelmed and falling behind. 

So, it’s best to convert that e-mail into your Calendar. It takes a little extra time and thinking, but it gives you a far greater sense of being well organised and in control. What do you think?

All the best!

Steuart Snooks