How to Set Up Recurring Tasks

Creating recurring tasks is a great way to ensure that you don't forget to do ongoing tasks. Life is busy and its easy to forget some of the important little things that need to happen every so often. One example of an activity that is well-suited for a recurring task is backing up Outlook data. If you're like me, this is something you know is important, but something you won't remember to do without some prompting.

On this page, I assume that you already know how to create a Task in Outlook, and that you're here to learn how to turn a regular task into a recurring task. Because Outlook is so flexible about creating recurring tasks, and gives you so many options, this can seem very confusing. If you take a look at the following picture of the options in the Task Recurrence dialog box, you can see what I mean. In reality though, setting up tasks that recur on common patterns, like every other week, or every Thursday or once a month, is easy once you know what to pay attention to and what to ignore.

The Recurring Tasks dialog box.

Setting up recurring tasks looks harder than it usually is.

Instead of talking you through all the different permutations of task schedules Outlook can support, I'll walk you through setting up a basic recurrence pattern. This should give you the know-how you need to set up the kinds of recurring tasks you're most likely to ever need.

Setting Up Recurring Tasks

To start, you should have a task already created that you want to turn into a recurring task. If you don't and want to start from scratch, I suggest you create a new blank task with the CTRL-SHIFT-K keyboard shortcut, and set up the recurrence pattern now. You can fill in the details of the task itself later.

NOTE: These instructions only deal with tasks that recur at set intervals. You can also create tasks that recur a set amount of time after you complete them. That is, you can create a task that recurs a week after you complete it instead of every two weeks whether you complete it or not. For information on creating tasks that recur a certain amount of time after they are created, see pages 208 to 210 of How to Do Everything with Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 To set the recurrence pattern for a task, follow these steps:

  1. In the Task window, click the Recurrence button to open the Task Recurrence dialog box.

    The Recurrence button.

  2. In the Recurrence Pattern part of the dialog box, select a Daily, Weekly, Monthly, or Yearly pattern in the left column. The right side of the Recurrence Pattern part of the dialog box changes to give you options that are specific to the selection you made in the left column.

  3. Select the pattern you want on the right side. If at all possible, avoid selecting the Regenerate new task every... option.

  4. In the Range of recurrence part of the dialog box, select a starting and ending date for the recurring task. By default, the starting date is the current date, and the No end date option is set, meaning the the pattern will recur forever, until you either change the pattern or delete the task manually.

  5. When you are happy with the recurrence pattern you've created, click OK to return to the Task window.

When you save the task, it will recur according to the pattern you just created.

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