Microsoft To-do! Due dates based on E-mail Importance

I recently read this blog post from Luise Freese about Microsoft To-do – 11 reasons why I fell in love with Microsoft To-Do and I couldn’t agree more. In-fact, I can add 10 more to that list! 🙂

One of the reasons mentioned was around moving flagged e-mails to To-Do using Microsoft Flow . To take this a step further, I wanted a way to assign due dates and reminders for the e-mails based on some priority level. Below is a step-by-step approach to achieve this –

Note: This applies only for desktop Outlook

  • Step 1: Create Outlook shortcuts to flag an e-mail and assign an importance level.
2019-02-04 09_31_45-Inbox - - Outlook
Open Quick Steps in Microsoft Outlook.
2019-02-04 09_34_20-Manage Quick Steps
Click on ‘New’ or if you already have a configured quick step, click on ‘Edit’.
2019-02-04 09_35_07-Edit Quick Step
Click on “Add Action” and choose “Set Importance” action and then select the Importance level from the drop down. Also, select the shortcut key so that you can assign the quick step from your keyboard.
2019-02-04 09_36_55-Edit Quick Step
Similarly, set up similar shortcuts for the 3 different levels of Importance. Choose the shortcut keys wisely! For the High Importance I chose the “Ctrl+Shift+1”, for Medium Importance – “Ctrl+Shift+2” and for Low Importance – “Ctrl+Shift+3”.

So now you can use these shortcuts to quickly assign an importance level and flag the e-mails.

  • Step 2 – Set up the Flow in Microsoft Flow to assign the flagged e-mail as a task in To-Do with a due date based on the Importance. (Download the Flow files from here)
2019-02-04 10_01_44-Edit your flow _ Microsoft Flow
Start with the trigger “When an email is flagged” and  then use the “Initialize variable” action to store the number of days before due date.
2019-02-04 10_02_34-Edit your flow _ Microsoft Flow
Based on the ‘Importance’ value from the e-mail, set the DueDays variable value. Personally, I wanted to set High Importance – 1 day, Medium Importance to 3 days and Low Importance to 5 days. For e-mails where I don’t set the importance level, I set the value to 7 days.
2019-02-04 11_57_37-Edit your flow _ Microsoft Flow
Now, add the “Add a to-do” action and set the values as defined above. You can customize it based on your liking. Remember to set the body content type to HTML to have a nice looking e-mail in the note of the to-do. For due date and reminder, use the expressions as defined below.

2019-02-04 11_55_33-Edit your flow _ Microsoft Flow

2019-02-04 11_56_20-Edit your flow _ Microsoft Flow

Due date expression – addDays(utcNow(),variables(‘DueDays’))

The expression above adds the number of days before the task is due to the current time.

Reminder date time expression – addDays(utcNow(),sub(variables(‘DueDays’),1))

The expression above reduces the number of due days by 1 day and adds it to the current time, so you can get the reminder 1 day before the task is due. Of-course, you can customize this as well to your liking.

Step 3 – Sit back and enjoy!

Bonus tip –

When you try adding emojis to be used as an icon for a List category, you get very limited options. If you want to use some other emoji, try out the method described below. To get the emoji menu in Windows 10 press “Windows key + ;” . You can also search for emojis from this menu. In my case, I searched for ‘target” and got the emoji I wanted.

Have fun using To-Do!


Download the Flow files from here


2 thoughts on “Microsoft To-do! Due dates based on E-mail Importance

  1. This is a great and useful post Vivek. thanks for putting this together. just noticed the new “flagged email” feature released this month on To Do. What is your take on that?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The new feature is definitely the way to go. However, the quicksteps defined here would really help you to assign due dates for the email task quickly. So still some relevant stuff here. I need to update my blog post with details to that feature though.


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