I’m a heavy user of Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Tasks especially. One major frustration I have with the redesigned Office 2007 productivity suite is that Outlook Tasks now have a default due date of “TODAY”. So how do you change the default?
Unless you open a full task form, you can’t set a due date and Microsoft, by way of being helpful, adds the default due date of “Today” for you. Previous versions defaulted to “None” as the due date. Walking back through the long form for each individual task just to set the due date is painful and awkward. Worse, the due date isn’t visible in the “Outlook Today” main page of Outlook, so you can’t detect this until you start getting warnings that tasks are overdue. That set me to seeking a way to change the default due date on Outlook Tasks.
That was a nasty shock the first time I encountered it–right after porting over my list of more than 60 tasks from my planner and hand scribbled notes from my last meeting. If you are like me, you really don’t like being rushed. Having Microsoft force all your tasks to “Today” is really not good for your blood pressure, especially when it does it secretly when you aren’t looking.
Isn’t that why you create lists in the first place? Lists let you tell yourself that everything is under control, right? If you are a Franklin-Covey user, you know that not every task needs a due date, especially those Quadrant 3 and 4 tasks that are unimportant and may not even have a deadline. I just need to see what needs to get done in a simple list–a reminder of what needs to get done and the priority/order of when to do them. To me, a due date is somewhat redundant.
My method for task management is to create a list of everything I can think of that I need to do, add anything that comes up later and leave due dates and priorities until after I have put the list together and am confident I have recorded everything I can think of. Stopping to assign individual due dates blocks the data entry flow into Outlook and causes me to forget the list I had in my head. As everyone knows, it’s always the one item you forgot that comes back to bite you later.
So, I set upon my Holy Quest, to change the default due date on Outlook 2007 Tasks. After nearly two months of searching on and off for a solution, I stumbled upon a page at Microsoft’s site. Now, I’m going to share that solution (and the Microsoft Web page address) with you.
Here’s how to change that pesky “Today” default due date in Microsoft Outlook:
Now all Outlook 2007 tasks you create from now on will no longer be forced to be due Today.
<sarcasm> Clearly, ignoring the Tools > Options menu where Microsoft has always placed it’s program options, and changing this default program setting in a new task is the *obvious* way to change a program-wide default, right? Completely “intuitive”.</sarcasm>
Here is the URL to the Microsoft Instruction. You can’t find it unless you use “Quick Click Flag” in a search at Google. Microsoft’s site turned up zilch when I searched any combination of the words Outlook, tasks and “due date”.
Now that I’ve fixed that, I can finally start using my Task list again in Outlook.