Fight the Sunday Scaries with Microsoft Planner and Outlook

Do you ever get that twinge of the “Sunday scaries” as Monday approaches? I used to feel the same way until I started using Microsoft Planner and Outlook to turn my overwhelmingly long task list into an organized plan of action. Now, I start my week with confidence and clarity, and I hope these tips do the same for you. Let’s dive in so you can log on Monday morning with a sense of peace, knowing that you have your tasks in check.

Get an overview of your tasks with Microsoft Planner

Microsoft Planner is a work management tool for tracking tasks, to-do lists, and projects across different Microsoft 365 apps in one holistic view. It integrates with Outlook, Microsoft Teams, Viva Goals, and Microsoft Loop to allow for personal and collaborative task tracking. Planner is available with Microsoft 365 Business Basic plans and up.

I’ve been using Planner to keep track of the tasks entered in my team’s channel planner, my Loops, and project tasks. The “assigned to me” tab rolls everything up nicely into one view, and I can use the labels to help me color-code things. For example, client work is labeled orange, and admin tasks are labeled red. Scheduling a start date or due date helps me keep track of priority tasks, as does dragging and dropping to reorder tasks visually, while the columns Not Started, In Progress, and Completed give a big-picture view of what’s in the pipeline and the accomplishments I made that week. If you’re a list-lover like me, you will also love the satisfying “ding” that Planner gives when you check off a task! (And thanks to my colleague Carolyn for alerting me to how she was using Planner to rollup her tasks!)

Plan out your week with Outlook

When I have a lot going on and several to-do items, I’ll take some time on Fridays to plan for the following week by looking at my Microsoft Planner and then creating events to help block out my Outlook calendar. This helps me carve out focus time to execute tasks, which is especially important during a meeting-heavy week.

Things that are critical get scheduled as an event, and things that are not as critical get scheduled as “tentative.” I also use a checkmark icon, as seen in the screenshot below, to remind me that these are my planned working time blocks rather than an actual meeting.  The project managers know they can schedule meetings over my tentative time blocks as needed, but it helps visually remind me what I want to do during that time. By setting time aside on Friday to map out when I will tackle certain projects in the next week, I feel a sense of relief by the time Monday rolls around.

Here’s a pro tip for organizing your Outlook events: In Outlook web, click the icon to select a different icon. Click More options to change the status to “Tentative.”

Take back control of your schedule

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with several ongoing projects and requests on top of constant meetings. There are only so many hours in a day, and you want to maintain a healthy work-life balance as well. By effectively using Microsoft Planner and Outlook, you can regain control of your schedule, practice great time management, and reduce the risk of burnout.

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Corrie Haffly

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