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and interviews with experts who share
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case management

 

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In this series, we explore organizational techniques,
software and hardware that will help you clear the
mess from your desk, be more productive, and cut
office overhead.

This article presents some software solutions for tracking to dos.
If you missed previous Computer Corners:

How to Calculate Settlement Values and Organize Issues and Evidence with a Downloadable Settlement Spreadsheet. click here.

“How to Organize Medical Issues and Evidence” with a Downloadable Medical Manager Spreadsheet click here

"How to Store It, How to Find It with downloadable folder tree and icon" click here.

“How to Work Faster, More Efficiently, and with
Lower Overhead” click here.

"A Case Management Adjunct" click here.
 

Do you have various to-do lists, written or electronic, piles of post-its, or scraps of papers to remind you of various obligations? Perhaps even a to do list of your various to-do lists? An easy solution is to use Outlook to organize your tasks.

There are several ways to open a task in Outlook:

  1. From anywhere in Outlook, use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Shift+K.
  2. You can also put a Task button on the menu bar: click on the Tools menu (or just right click on the menu bar) and select "Customize." Click on "Actions" and drag the "New Task" button to the menu bar.
  3. Or you can put a button on your launch bar by creating a shortcut on the desktop and dragging it to your Quick Launch bar. Right click on the desktop, choose “New” then “Shortcut,” then paste in "C:\Microsoft Office\OFFICE11\OUTLOOK.EXE" -c IPM.Task /m "%1" Make sure to include the quote marks and the correct folder where outlook.exe is stored.
  4. You can drag and drop an e-mail to the Task bar on the Navigation Pane (Alt+F1). This works too with Contacts, Appointments and Notes.
  5. If you use OneNote, you can send a Task to Outlook. You can also do this from Access and Accomplice.

Once you have opened a Task, you can use Insert on the menu bar to insert files or Outlook items. If it is a simple task, it is enough to put some language in the subject field, but in a more complex task you can organize notes, with links to other information, you can paste in text or graphics, send the task by e-mail, etc. You can even make the task into a to do list for a project.

There are various books that detail how to use Tasks for full efficiency: Total Workday Control Using Microsoft Outlook, 2nd Ed. by Michael Linenberger is excellent, as is Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen. Depending on your level of compulsivity and obsessiveness, you may or may not want to follow the authors’ systems.




Here is a simplified version that only requires reading this article.

Make it easy to open a task, using the methods listed above. For a quick look at what you have to do today, this week, or this month, you can view your tasks in conjunction with the Calendar by making the TaskPad visible: click “View” on the menu bar and select “TaskPad.” Then click on “TaskPad View” and select the tasks you want to show. As you complete tasks, check the box and they disappear from view.

If you look at the tasks in Task rather than Calendar, you can see your tasks in many different ways. On the menu bar, click “View” then “Arrange By” then “Current View” to see the different choices. You can make this process much easier by placing a button on the menu bar that allows you to go right to Current View: right click on the Tools menu (or just right click on the menu bar) and select "Customize." Click on "View" and drag the "Current View" button to the menu bar.

Some other neat features of Tasks:

  1. Recurrence: click on this button on the menu bar and set the times you want this task to recur automatically. For example, your professional liability insurance. In the task, you might want to insert the contact at your insurance company (on menu bar, click Insert then Item. Go to Contacts and find the one you want, highlight it and click OK). You can also insert a link to a scanned copy of your policy.
  2. Assign Task: click on this button on the menu bar and send the task by e-mail. When you click on “To” your address book/contact list opens.
  3. Status Report: click on “Actions” on the menu bar and select “Send Status Report.”

 

Putting it all together
Here are some scenarios for making Outlook Tasks an effective way to manage your to do list:

  1. You receive an e-mail from the adjuster requesting a settlement demand. Drag and drop the e-mail to the Task bar in the Navigation Pane. The Task will open with the data from the e-mail. If someone else is to prepare the demand, assign the task using the "Assign Task" feature. Note what needs to be done in the memo field. Insert links to relevant files, If any. If your Settlement Analyzer is not up to date, there may be a number of sub tasks that need to be completed in order to prepare the demand (e.g., research future medical costs for the client's worked-related conditions). Insert the due date and priority level and save the task. You can also save a copy to the client's folder by clicking on "File" in the menu bar, then "Save As" and selecting Rich Text Format. This will preserve any links from inserted files or graphics.
  2. You are reading posts on the legal forum and see a great question to ask in an upcoming deposition. Block the text and drag it to the Task bar. A task will open with the text. Insert the client's name and other data in the subject line so it is easy to find later, and save this until you can incorporate it in your deposition questionnaire.
  3. You have a deposition of a doctor coming up in a remote location and need to make travel plans. Drag the calendar item to the Task bar. Copy and paste directions, flight schedule, etc., into the memo pad. There is a picture of the doctor on his website which you also can copy and paste into the memo. Find a good nearby restaurant and paste in that information. Before leaving, print the Task. You have everything in one place instead of on bits and pieces of papers and Post-its.

 


If you want even more flexibility, consider Accomplice, inexpensive software that integrates with Outlook and allows you to make customized Activity Lists, add subtasks and notes. The program can be installed on a Windows PC or a U3 Smart USB flash drive. By syncing with Outlook, not only are your Tasks and Calendar Items readily visible, but you can quickly search in Accomplice for Tasks, notes and E-Mails.
< Click image to enlarge


> Send in your tips for office organization or
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Computer Corner:
Getting on Top of To-Dos

By Marjory Harris

> The Doctor's Office: Chiropractic
> Multiple Impairments & DFEC
> Defense Perspective: EAMS
> Computer Corner:
Getting on Top of ToDos
> Carving up PD: Part II