It doesn’t really matter which version of Outlook you have, you can use it for more than email (indeed, this applies to just about every email/calendar/to-do application out there) and keep stuff clean, paid and current. Years ago I used to keep up with annual stuff (like physicals, vet appointments, car registrations), seasonal stuff (air filter changes, fire alarm batteries) and even weekly and monthly things using either a paper calendar or index cards. I quit doing that several years ago and switched to using Outlook so I wouldn’t have to think about things until they came due.
I use two features – the calendar for things that occur on specific dates or in certain months and the task list for recurring and one time “just do it” items. Starting with the task list, just open up the list and start entering things. Don’t worry about setting them up perfectly yet – you are going to do that as you get to them. Some example things to add are:
- Pay bills & deposit checks (I do this twice per month though most of my bills are autopay, I also take a look at the bills just so nothing sneaks by me)
- Car, people and pet maintenance – oil changes, physicals, vaccinations, registrations and so on
- Cleaning – daily, weekly, monthly and seasonal. I do them individually by room or section of the yard so the actual task is smaller and I get to check off more things.
- Goals and resolutions – a few years back I quit making a huge list of big annual resolutions and make 12 per year, 1 per month.
- Errands – I have a weekly task for grocery shopping in the body of which I add that week’s list. When it’s time to go, print the task and you’re off!
- Monthly bill/investment reviews – this is different from looking at individual items. Every month I have a different bill type I look at (insurance, phone, cable and so on) and research whether it’s still competitive, useful, new features, features to drop and so on.
Once you have your tasks listed, as you do them the first time, open them up and set how often you want to do them. There is a “Recurrence” option that lets you set daily, weekly, monthly and annually as well as whether it resets for after you do it or whether it turns red (overdue). You can also set a time span for that particular task – I use that for things like vacation packing and planning which obviously ends after you finish the trip. Use help in the options to understand exactly how you are setting things up and don’t get all stressed about it, change and modify as you go until you hit the right balance.
For calendars it’s even easier – if there is a regular date for it, especially things you tend to forget like that dentist appointment in 6 months or which pet is due for which shot when. There are also recurrence options and alert/alarm options that let you know something is coming up. Of course, also include those things like Aunt Effie’s birthday and the family reunion (and set the reminder enough in advance to get that gift ordered).
If you are using an online email/calendar/to-do application, you also have the ability to view and take all of this with you on your phone or tablet so you don’t even need to print out that grocery list or try and remember what that other errand was that needed to be done on Tuesday. It’s right there, you can check it off and bask in the accomplishment! This also lets you add things on the fly as you are thinking of them.
Finally, a word of warning – don’t become a slave to this. It’s supposed to help you, not turn you into Polly Perfect. If you don’t feel like cleaning the den this week (or if it just doesn’t really need it) mark it off and move on. If you think something needs to be done every day but you never actually get it done every day, move it to every other day or even (gasp) once a week – perhaps you simply don’t have the time or it’s really not that important. Never be afraid to look at your list and just skip an instance or change the frequency – going outside and enjoying the day with friends or family is always going to be more important and better for you than cleaning the grout. No, really. I promise. 🙂