If your Outlook Task view looks anything like mine, it’s too busy to be truly effective. Fortunately, you can filter the view, but sometimes it’s hard to get the right result. Most of us always need to know what’s overdue. Sometimes, we need to know what’s due in the near future. More often than not, we want both. When this happens, use multiple criteria to get them.

Knowing how to express what you need can be challenging until you’re familiar with the existing filters. You just have to open the feature and look around. For instance, the following example uses advanced filters that you might not know about. Suppose the current date is April 3, 2008, and the status for five tasks is as follows:

  • One was completed before the deadline.
  • Two are due during the next workweek.
  • One is overdue.
  • One is almost two weeks away.

To view a list of only overdue items and those that are due the next week, use advanced filters:

  1. Click Customize Current View in the Current View section.
  2. Click Filter in the resulting dialog box.
  3. Click the Advanced tab in the Filter dialog box.
  4. In the Define More Criteria section, open the Field control’s drop-down list and choose Complete from the Frequently Used Fields item.
  5. Click Add To List. That’ll take care of outstanding items.
  6. Next, choose Due Date from the Frequently Used Fields item.
  7. Select On Or Before from the Condition control.
  8. In the Value control, enter “7 days from now”.
  9. Click Add To List. That’ll take care of items due during the coming week.
  10. Click OK twice.

The filtered list, shown below, now contains only three items — one that’s overdue and two that come due during the next week. The list no longer displays the completed item or the seminar that’s almost two weeks away.

In this particular case, you could handle the coming week items by choosing “In The Next 7 Days” from the Condition control. However, I wanted you to see how versatile Outlook can be. Use Value expressions to limit items when no existing condition exists.