How to DEFER your Outlook Emails till you need them (no Outlook addins needed)

By: standss , Jul 9th, 2010

Here are a few ways to automatically get reminded to work on an email that you have received but do not need/want to work on till some date/time in the future.

Option 1: Flag the email with a reminder

This is an OK option if you don’t mind keeping the email in your Inbox (I’ve got some options later that will even remove the email from your Inbox until you need it).

Right click on the email, click Follow-up and then click Add Reminder.

Enter the relevant information in the screen and click OK.

The problems with this method are:

  1. The email actually stays in your Inbox which can be a distraction and affect your productivity.
  2. You can’t add any notes to the original email (unless you are using Email Notes for Outlook)

Option 2: Convert the Email to your Calendar or Task List (drag-and-drop)

Many Outlook users do not realise this but you can convert an email to a Task or Calendar by dragging it to the Task or Calendar folder.

A new Task or Calendar Item will be created and opened with the email content in it. You can set the appropriate date to be reminded.

I prefer to drag-and-drop using the right (instead of left) mouse button. This gives 3 options when I drop the email:

Copy here as Task with Text

Copy here as Task with Attachment

Move here as Task with Attachment

I choose either Copy or Move with Attachment options. This way the new Task has the email attached to it. I can simply double-click the attached email to respond.

Option 3: Use QuickFile for Outlook to remove your emails and have them magically reappear at the correct date and time

In an earlier post, we mentioned how QuickFile for Outlook can be used to DEFER emails. If you are a QuickFile user then this is the nicest option.

3 Replies to “How to DEFER your Outlook Emails till you need them (no Outlook addins needed)”

  1. I use a very similar method: I set a follow up reminder on such emails, and drop them in a specific directory (its called @Tickler as I implement some form of David Allen’s Getting Things Done). When I open Outlook, it autoruns a macro to check all emails in that folder, and move those whose time has come back into the InBox. Obviously this only works on a day basis, but that’s sufficient for me.

    Hope this helps someone.

    My code follows. It’s not professional, but it works for me. I reused another of my macros (and based some code on the site referenced), so this contains some redundant code that changes the Categories I use with GTD)and copes with multiple files (which makes it not a quick job to strip it out for you):

    ‘You might need to place this first Sub under ThisOutlookSession – already had an Application_Startup() routine there, so just had to add the one line and can’t remeber the details

    Private Sub Application_Startup()
    ‘Check if @Tickler folder items need moving into Inbox
    Call sjbMoveDueTicklerMessagesToInbox
    End Sub

    Sub sjbMoveDueTicklerMessagesToInbox()
    ‘March 2010
    ‘Want to move mail items in Tickler folder back to Inbox
    ‘Will probably invoke on a daily basis

    ‘Based on empty junk folder from
    ‘ modified based on Move example in help

    Dim outApp As Outlook.Application
    Dim myInbox, TicklerFolder As Outlook.MAPIFolder
    Dim TicklerItems As Outlook.Items
    Dim MoveItem As Object
    Dim sFilter, sCats As String

    Set outApp = CreateObject(“outlook.application”)
    Set myInbox = outApp.GetNamespace(“MAPI”).GetDefaultFolder(olFolderInbox)
    Set TicklerFolder = myInbox.Parent.Folders(“@Tickler”)
    Set TicklerItems = TicklerFolder.Items

    sFilter = “[FlagDueBy] <= '" & Format(Now, "ddddd h:nn AMPM") & "'"
    Set MoveItem = TicklerItems.Find(sFilter)
    While TypeName(MoveItem) “Nothing”
    ‘Want to have only one instance of Category “~3 Tickler”
    sCats = MoveItem.Categories
    If Len(sCats) = 0 Then
    ‘No categories to delete
    MoveItem.Categories = “~3 Tickler”
    ‘Delete main 3 GTD categories
    CatArray = Split(sCats, “,”)
    CatArray = Filter(CatArray, “~1 Next Action”, False)
    CatArray = Filter(CatArray, “~2 Waiting For”, False)
    CatArray = Filter(CatArray, “~3 Tickler”, False)
    sCats = Join(CatArray, “,”)
    ‘Now need to add the tickler category
    If Len(sCats) = 0 Then
    ‘No existing categories left
    MoveItem.Categories = “~3 Tickler”
    MoveItem.Categories = sCats & “, ” & “~3 Tickler”
    End If
    End If
    ‘item changed so need to save (without prompting)
    MoveItem.Close olSave

    ‘Move it
    MoveItem.Move myInbox
    Set MoveItem = TicklerItems.FindNext

    Set MoveItem = Nothing
    Set TicklerItems = Nothing
    Set TicklerFolder = Nothing
    Set myInbox = Nothing
    Set outApp = Nothing

    End Sub

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