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  • Project Lists and Outlook

    The entire GTD system breaks down for me because there is no efficient way to manage one's Project List.

    Ideally, a Project List would show, in outline form, a list of one's projects by title (preferably grouped by some context) with all of the actions associated with the project shown beneath it. Why is there not an easy and efficient way to do this with Outlook?

    I've attempted the Krantz method, and while it's an attempt at a creative solution, it is simply to cumbersome - e.g. having to open every project to see the next actions, having to cut and paste and format, etc. I want to be able to drag an action from my project list to my next action list. Is this asking too much?! From what I can tell it is.

    Please don't tell me about Shadowplan, the PigPog method, the Krantz Method, Actionlist or Goldmine. I've looked into them all and they are all too complicated. What I'm looking for is quite simple:

    A program that will enable me to create a project list in outline form (as described above) and that will let me drag actions listed below the projects into my next actions list.

    If there is not one readily available, I would like to commission one (I'm not kidding). This is an issue that is truly driving my nuts. The GTD system is no good without an easy to review project list. So, if anyone knows of something that fits my description, please let me know.

  • #2
    Your question is very similar to the one I made a few days ago. See

    Looking for software that checks next actions against projects

    I was drawn attention to Life Balance which seems to do what you want. You can make a list of tasks and subtasks to do for each projet and it only displays the next one to do on your next action list. I'm not sure if the Outlook Add-On can do the same or not.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by TC1
      What I'm looking for is quite simple:

      A program that will enable me to create a project list in outline form (as described above) and that will let me drag actions listed below the projects into my next actions list.
      ...
      The GTD system is no good without an easy to review project list.
      You're right, and an easy-to-review project list is.. a list of projects. If you really wanted what you say you need, you would just list next actions in the note field of each project, and get to work. When a next action went active, you would paste it into the appropriate category. There are programs on various platforms that will do outlines and/or different views of your next action data (by context, by project, by priority, et cetera). Most people find these programs are a big help in ngtd (n = not).

      Let me describe my problem with gtd. I say to myself, "if only I had software that supported my special way of working, then I could gtd with the best of them. But alas, my software does not support the way I think I must work, so I must be tragically unproductive." Then I find a way to implement this "system" using existing software. It works.. for exactly one week. I don't do the weekly review, and pow, I need a new system. I've done this many times. In my better moments, I remember that the system needs to be simple, the system needs regular care and review, next actions have to be next and have to be actions, and most projects need to be steered more than they need to be planned.

      Ask yourself "What it David Allen had never existed? What would I be doing instead to get my work done? What is the minimum information I need to track everything?" Then do that.
      Last edited by mcogilvie; 03-01-2006, 11:10 AM.

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      • #4
        I've never thought that PigPog or Krantz methods are too complicated!

        Originally posted by TC1
        Please don't tell me about Shadowplan, the PigPog method, the Krantz Method, Actionlist or Goldmine. I've looked into them all and they are all too complicated.
        I've never thought that PigPog or Krantz methods are too complicated!

        Some people use just the big text file to manage the GTD lists (you can find the example at http://www.43folders.com/2005/12/12/text-setup/). Maybe this approach will not be too complicated for you.

        But there is no chance that you will find the software that will get your stuff done - you have to do it yourself.

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        • #5
          You can always use categories in Outlook

          If it is important to you to group actions by project, you can always add a category for each project and view your tasks grouped and summarised by category. If your contexts are in the format "@...", they will show at the top for day to day use and your projects will be below for weekly review.

          This would not be cumbersome: just add a new task "plan project X" for each new project and then drag each next action on that project to that category.

          You could put the objectives/principles/outcome/brainstorm in the notes to the project.

          But remember that the project list is just a list of projects, not the project plan itself. You will probably want some form of outliner for at least some of your projects. I waver between Listpro and PocketThinker. Listpro is powerful - I found it placed no limits on my natural inclination to confuse myself. PocketThinker is simpler and has the ability to generate Outlook tasks and appointments http://www.pocketthinker.com/. Both have PPC versions.

          Some swear by MyLifeOrganised.

          Actually, I have found that I have not been looking at my lists enough recently and I'm trying a blank moleskine notebook, some Post-it index tabs and a nice Parker pencil. First WR coming up tomorrow!

          I hope that you find what you're looking for and that it works for you.

          Best regards,

          Will

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          • #6
            Originally posted by TC1
            What I'm looking for is quite simple:

            A program that will enable me to create a project list in outline form (as described above) and that will let me drag actions listed below the projects into my next actions list.
            Microsoft Word. Has an outline view that works perfectly fine. Highlight your action, drag it to the Task folder and drop. A new task appears.

            Good luck,
            Tom S.

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            • #7
              Outlook is great for everything but the project list. I appreciate all of the feed back, and as I suspected, in a world where we can clone sheep, there isn't an easy to use product that can fill the project list void.

              I refer to my next actions list, calendar and email inbox frequently throughout the day. All of these are in Outlook, and Outlook has the capability to produce a very nice NA list in the task section. As many of you have commented, the ability to use catagories view is perfect. My catagories are @Call, @Do, @Delegate, @Read/Review, @Waiting, ^Errand and Home.

              There is no project list that works well with Outlook as far as I can tell. I don't use the add-in, and I think the add-in is a fundamentally flawed product (I'm not getting into this here. My views are shared by many on other posts).

              Thanks to all of you for your responses:

              tominperu - i did see your post. Thanks for the tip on Life Balance. It's nice but not what I'm looking for. I need something that works with Outlook.

              Mcogilvie - thanks for the tips. Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how you see it, DA does exist and so does the GTD system.

              TesTeq - please replace the work "complicated" in my original post with "cumbersome." I think that there are a lot of GTD people out there who are spending a lot of time fiddling with their lists and not getting things done. I'm not looking for a way to get my stuff done (I do that just fine), I'm looking for a way to keep track of all my stuff that doesn't require me to cut and paste and click open and open and click and paste and format, etc., etc., etc.

              Rossw - thanks for all your thoughtful feedback. good luck with your Moleskin. It's old school and very cool.

              Tom Shannon - thanks for the tip. the problem with word is the requirement to save. The task section in Outlook doesn't need to be saved all the time. I'm looking for the equivalent. I'll keep searching. And by the way, when you highlight and drag from Word into the TAsk section, the language ends up in the notes portion of the task and not the header.

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              • #8
                OK, look, Outlook has lots of fields, and you can add more. There are a couple of standard fields that aren't used internally, like mileage. You can use those fields as project and subproject fields to do outlining. You can rename the columns in views you set up, you can sort, you can do view by with collapsing sections, with some of these fields you can do drag and drop, et cetera.

                I couldn't tell from your original post if you wanted the project fields to go away or be retained when things are moved from the "project outline" to the "next action" list. More or less what you want is probably implementable in stock Outlook. I've done it on my own, the GTD add-in docs used to explain how to do it (sub-projects and super-projects), my wife still uses it, and syncs her work and home PC via Keysuite, including the project field. Of course, you can't list items under other items, but that is a limitation of Outlook. There is an add-in for Outlook (I forget its name) that does project outlines, but I found it unimpressive.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by TC1
                  There is no project list that works well with Outlook as far as I can tell. I don't use the add-in, and I think the add-in is a fundamentally flawed product (I'm not getting into this here. My views are shared by many on other posts).
                  I'm curious. Why you think the add-in is fundamentally flawed? It has most of the functionality you've described. PM me as I don't want to hijack this thread...

                  Originally posted by TC1
                  Ideally, a Project List would show, in outline form, a list of one's projects by title (preferably grouped by some context) with all of the actions associated with the project shown beneath it. Why is there not an easy and efficient way to do this with Outlook?

                  A program that will enable me to create a project list in outline form (as described above) and that will let me drag actions listed below the projects into my next actions list.
                  The GTD Add-in will allow you to do this. Simply open the task view and select the Next Action by Project (or subproject) list. You can't drag the actions to your next action lists, but you can right click, select categories and assign them to the correct category. You can also add categories to the view, and type them in directly. I'd prefer a hot-key but its relatively easy to do what you're describing without the drag-and-drop feature.

                  You can also do this with a custom project field and a custom view without the add-in.

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                  • #10
                    I have struggled with a similar issue myself. A few things I have tried but not quite decided on:

                    -Keep all projects under a category of Project which can be expanded and contracted. For NA, open project, selected File -> New -> Task and type in details of NA. NA name can have an indicator of the project that it falls under.

                    -Do all GTD work on Pocket PC, on which I have Pocket Informant. PI allows for hierarchical tasks, so I can put my tasks in that mode, select the project, hold the stylus over it, select new task, and that new task will appear under the parent project. This got a little cumbersome, and I prefer to do my data entry on the computer anyway and use the PPC for portability.

                    -Keep projects outside of Outlook, and only use the Outlook tasks for NAs that can be done within a week or so. I have attempted to use My Life Organized for this, but there is also Evernote, which supports xml based templates. Evernote has an active user community and they have created a lot of useful templates for GTD. GTD Wannabe has done an excellent job of cataloging the various templates and providing them for download: http://www.geocities.com/gtdwannabe/.../catalogue.htm

                    Those are just a few ideas I have played with that have the most promise.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by TC1
                      Tom Shannon - thanks for the tip. the problem with word is the requirement to save. The task section in Outlook doesn't need to be saved all the time. I'm looking for the equivalent. I'll keep searching. And by the way, when you highlight and drag from Word into the TAsk section, the language ends up in the notes portion of the task and not the header.
                      I'm sorry I dropped out of this thread. I lost track.

                      If you are interested, I can send you an automated script that is run from Word. It will create a task and put the text on the line in the subject field. Its trivial.

                      I understand your reluctance, though. You may not want to rely entirely on scripting to automate every little task that you might find in a good outliner. The problem is that I've never found an outliner that did everything I wanted it to do. At least with Word, I know I can customize it to do virtually anything if I try hard enough.

                      Good luck,

                      Tom S.

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                      • #12
                        Your Solution is called One Note.

                        One note will allow you to have the project list, information, links and everything in there. Will allow you to do outlines, as complicated as you need, use flags that One Note can extract automatically and make list (the most important project of the week) and will create automatically Calendar events as well as task in outlook that you can track with one note.

                        If you want more in how to implement this drop a line in the forum.

                        bye

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by apinaud
                          Your Solution is called One Note.

                          One note will allow you to have the project list, information, links and everything in there. Will allow you to do outlines, as complicated as you need, use flags that One Note can extract automatically and make list (the most important project of the week) and will create automatically Calendar events as well as task in outlook that you can track with one note.

                          If you want more in how to implement this drop a line in the forum.
                          Either a new version is out or I'm missing something. The last version I sued did a nice job of outlining but wouldn't allow you to put in links without an external program. It also lacked scripting which wouldn't allow you to automate many tasks.

                          But what really irritated me was that, while it will allow you to put tasks and calendar information in, it wouldn't change the information when it changed in Outlook. Not even syncing. This is the kind of integration I've come to expect from Microsoft. Perhaps this has all changed?

                          Tom S.
                          Last edited by Tom Shannon; 03-13-2006, 06:21 AM.

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                          • #14
                            OneNote

                            Originally posted by apinaud
                            Your Solution is called One Note.

                            ...

                            If you want more in how to implement this drop a line in the forum.

                            bye
                            Yes, apinaud, please explain more about how I can use MS OneNote to impliment GTD by integrating with Outlook. I have OneNote 2003 version 11.6360.6360, SP1. I have been trying various solutions for GTD that might enhance my "core" solution of Outlook, David's GTD Add-In, my PocketPC (WM2003), Agenda Fusion, and 3-way syncing between my work PC, PocketPC, and home PC.

                            There is no wonderfull solution that integrates all of this well, but I'm still working on it. The biggest chanllenge of all is figuring out how to sync the "Project" GTD custom field in Outlook, so that it will propagate through my PocketPC from work to home and viceversa.

                            Tim

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