The Best Way to Combine Outlook with Your Paper Planner


Do you have a paper planner and Microsoft Outlook but can’t decide which to use?

The good news is, you don’t have to give up one for the other – you can successfully combine Microsoft Outlook with your paper day planner for a dependable and productive planning solution.

Here is some practical advice for making them work together:

Know your roles:

The Outlook and day planner relationship works best if you properly define the roles of each tool. Outlook should be your “master” scheduling device. You should maintain all time-sensitive data here. If it’s tied into your work network most appointments begin here already, and it offers terrific reminder features.

Your paper planner, on the other hand, should serve as your portable all-purpose tool. It works great while on the go or at your desk — just flip it open for access to your daily plan. (Outlook can be a distraction, especially while working in other computer programs.)

Follow this daily routine:

  • Sync your day: Establish a time for planning your day ahead. Typically, I recommend the morning for this activity, however many enjoy planning at day’s end. Make it a routine by setting aside at least 15 minutes each day.
  • Review on paper: Run through your day planner and extract all task and appointment notes from the previous day. Input this information directly into Outlook, making certain to include start dates and due dates.
  • Important tip: Always reference in Outlook where the task or appointment request was found in your paper planner notes, in case you want to refer back later.
  • Process your email: Scan your past day’s messages and create tasks from those that require follow-up action. Simply open the message, open the “File” menu, choose “Copy to folder,” and select “tasks” from the drop-down menu.
  • Another Important tip: Create new task subject headings that more specifically address the action required.
  • Update your paper planner: If you perform this routine daily, keeping your tasks and schedules in-sync is a quick, reliable process.
    1. First, go to your Outlook task screen and copy into your planner the tasks you need and want to do today.
    2. Next, go to your Outlook calendar and update today’s appointments in your planner.
    3. Then, go to your monthly calendars and copy into your planner any schedule updates for the week and month ahead.

Notes to remember:

  • As you go about your day, use the tool that is most convenient. In other words, hand-write notes for new tasks and appointments if you’re using your planner for activities such as taking meeting notes, and create Outlook tasks and appointments if you’re reading email. As long as you perform the daily sync your system will be current.
  • Printing out your Outlook schedule is the preferred choice of many. Use Day-Timer’s Print Your Own planning pages.

A final thought:

Stick to your daily plan. As new urgent tasks arise through the email and conversations of your day, you must decide whether they take priority over those that you’ve already assigned yourself.

How have you found success in achieving your goals? Please share your ideas by commenting to this post. If you enjoyed this post, get free updates by email or RSS.

7 thoughts on “The Best Way to Combine Outlook with Your Paper Planner

  1. I have purchased the Print your own pages from Daytimer and I print out my calendars twice a week. Is there a way to print all my contact from Outlook onto the Daytimer paper and put in my Daytimer desk planner? That would be a huge benefit for those of us using Outlook & Paper. My original contacts are so messy becuase of all the changes but with over 600 contracts and I not going to rewrite by hand. Thanks for a solution to my problem.

  2. wow, i had left daytimer long ago, thinking it was a dinosaur. i am trying to get more productive and have day-timer liked on facebook so i saw this article, I read through it and got curious about the “use daytimer print your own planning pages” so I clicked on it. lo and behold, it is out of stock! I guess my initial assessment was correct. Day-timer IS a dinosaur and destined to die as a company, what value is left with them now

    1. Hi John, I have updated the copy to reflect our in-stock printable pages, thanks for the head’s up. Regardless of the product you use however, paper planning is a reliable and positive method for managing time and prioritizing tasks.

      As you’ve suggested — planning is never a one-size-fits-all method — please write back and share what system you are currently finding success with.

      Enjoy your time — Jeff

  3. I have spent all afternoon, as time permits looking for something to keep printed Outlook calendars in. Bless you for such a timely article. I really enjoy your blog.

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