Windows taskbar on the left [personal productivity]

Windows taskbar on the left [personal productivity]

My Windows taskbar is on the left instead of the bottom of the screen. This works very well for me but it is not a very well-known option in Windows. This post describes how to set it up as well as the benefits of this method of working. The tip and configuration has (mostly) be available since Windows XP.

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Productivity tip: automatically color appointments in Outlook calendar (conditional formatting)

Productivity tip: automatically color appointments in Outlook calendar (conditional formatting)

I did a video/podcast with Modermodemet last week, concerning personal productivity (note: English and Swedish). It was a fun chat that covered your own personal assistant (Jarvis?) to how to manage multiple calendars.

During the conversation, I mentioned two things that seemed to make an impact:

  1. I include travel time in my agenda.
    Especially when you travel to multiple locations, having this time booked means you have a much better chance of not being double booked.
  2. My travel time automatically gets a special color (conditional formatting in Outlook)

This is a very simple example from my calendar:

conditionalformatting1

I am running Outlook 2013 in this example, but I have been using this since Outlook 2007 or so. I know it got a little bit more complicated in Outlook 2010, so here’s an example for configuring appointments with “travel” in the subject to be a specific color.

  1. When viewing the calendar, go to the view tab in the ribbon and click on “View settings”:conditionalformatting2
  2. Click on “Conditional formatting…”
    conditionalformatting3
  3. In this dialog, you manage the conditional formatting rules. Click “Add” to create a new rule. In this same screen, add the type and choose the color. Finally, click “Condition…” to configure.
    conditionalformatting4
  4. For this example, just fill in “travel” in the subject. The conditions can become far more complex if you want to.
    conditionalformatting5
  5. Click “OK” to finalize all changes and return to the calendar view. My travel appointments are now the blue color I configured them to be automatically:
    conditionalformatting6

During the discussion, I also mentioned that my partner and I generally don’t share a calendar. For example, if we have a work obligation in the evening, we create an event and label it with either “H: event title” if it is me, or “F: event title” if it is him. Then we invite the other person to it.  In my calendar, anything that starts with “F:” automatically is turned red so I know it is an appointment for my partner. It’s a very similar idea to the conditional formatting for the travel time.

conditionalformatting7

This is such an easy thing to configure and the automatic colors make it so much easier for me to see what’s in my calendar at a glance.