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Outlook tip for calendared anytime today actions

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  • Outlook tip for calendared anytime today actions

    I've been resisting using outlook all-day free appointments for "anytime today next actions". Not quite sure why. Maybe because thinking about it causes my brain to want to explode... It just seems so wrong somehow to use a free calendar event to track a next action with a due date.

    I've recently started doing it and I'm beginning to notice those tasks at the top of the calendar. They bug me until I get them done. That's good. I'm starting to trust this aspect of my system.

    Now that I'm using it I find that any things that are at the top of the calendar get my attention. Trouble is, I'm starting to have a lot of them. So many that I forget which ones are complete and which ones are still pending. I suppose I could delete the ones that I do, but I like a visual reference of what I've accomplished during the day.

    So I've used Outlooks coloring scheme to track completed anytime today next action appointments. This works best with the add-in but you could do something similar with a custom field and vanilla Outlook.

    Right click anywhere on the calendar to open up a menu and select Automatic Formating. Click Add and name the new style something like "Completed Anytime Today Activities". Click Condition and select the advanced Tab. Set a condition of Complete equals No. Click Okay and set the label to a nice flat pale color (such as the brown for vacation). Then when you complete the next action. Click on the complete button in the calendar item and it will appear in a different color to indicate that it's been completed... Probably a blindingly obvious tip, but I thought I'd share...

  • #2
    Originally posted by jpm
    I've been resisting using outlook all-day free appointments for "anytime today next actions". Not quite sure why. Maybe because thinking about it causes my brain to want to explode... It just seems so wrong somehow to use a free calendar event to track a next action with a due date.
    Your feeling probably has its roots in the book where only "hard" items are supposed to go on the calendar. As a result, I usually handle this by putting appointments into my calendar representing deadlines only, while keeping a task in the task list for the action, itself.

    Having said that, I also like to have tasks appear on the calendar and it is kind of nice to have them appear at the top. There's a Palm app called Datebk6 which handles them this way and I liked it. As a compromise on the desktop, I have used the taskpad in conjunction with the calendar to represent tasks and appointments together. It isn't quite the same but they are all on one page.

    (BTW I sent that script to your email. I'm sorry for the delay in the response.)

    Tom S.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by jpm
      Now that I'm using it I find that any things that are at the top of the calendar get my attention. Trouble is, I'm starting to have a lot of them. So many that I forget which ones are complete and which ones are still pending. I suppose I could delete the ones that I do, but I like a visual reference of what I've accomplished during the day.
      I also use 'all day' appointments to show things have have to be done on a certain day. Instead of marking them complete (how do you do that anyway, with an appointment?) and colouring them, I do the following:

      Create a new all day appointment. For the subject, type something like "[ ] call pharmacy". When that call is made, edit the subject line to be "[x] call pharmacy". The advantages of this approach are:
      1. I get to quickly see what has been done, or not done.
      2. I can use the colouring scheme in a different fashion. For example, all of my +ToDo appointments are light blue. This distinguishes them from hard appointments, birthdays, etc.
      3. When I sync with my Palm, my information comes with me; no worries about missing the colour that tells me something is done or not.

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      • #4
        I used to put "x" in the beggining as well but then started to simply delete completed items. I don't often (even maybe once per year) have to track what was done when

        Regards,

        Eugene.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by GTD Wannabe
          Instead of marking them complete (how do you do that anyway, with an appointment?) and colouring them, I do the following:
          The GTD Add-in Add's a Complete check box to appointments.

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          • #6
            colour not changing

            so does the label change change colour or the text or am I missing something??? - even when I comlete the task - it still says that same colour that it was when the appt wasn't complete???

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            • #7
              Originally posted by fionamac
              so does the label change change colour or the text or am I missing something??? - even when I comlete the task - it still says that same colour that it was when the appt wasn't complete???
              Are you asking about GTD add-inn or custominzation of Outlook with autoformating feature? I don't know about the add-inn but autoformat allows you to change font, color, etc. when some rule applies. I.e. if you put "x" sign in the line it could become grey.

              Regards,

              Eugene.

              Comment


              • #8
                fionamac:

                You have to set up rules for automatic formatting tasks in the calendar to get them to change color. This is a feature of outlook, not the add-in.

                Right click on some blank space in a calendar view and select Automatic Formatting. Then add a rule and pick the formatting you like. I have a rule for completed tasks that changes the task label to 'complete' which background color to gray so the tasks look grayed out when complete. The condition I set was for the add-in task field 'Complete" not equal to No.

                I have had the experience a few times where outlook hiccups and I lose all my auto formatting rules, so don't be suprised if this happens a couple of times per year. Just create them again.

                Ken

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                • #9
                  okay one more time for the dummies - namely me

                  ok - i agree that this is an OL thing not addin - so

                  I created a new appointment - no label and then save/close

                  I right clicked on it, selected autoformatting (AF)and it brought up my AF rules. I have one called 'not complete' label is red and the condition is 'Advanced tab' complete = no.
                  my other rule with a green label - is 'complete' - AF rule is advanced tab (complete = yes)

                  Now when I save the appt - the label doesn't go from none to red and if I mark the appt as complete - the label doesn't change from red to green.

                  Is the label colour supposed to change based on the AF? or have I misunderstood what AF does?

                  Thank

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                  • #10
                    There's no "Complete" field for Appointements only for Tasks.

                    Labels are user defined and you can name them as you want and give them the color you want.

                    I think there're two ways:

                    1. Simply assign any label you want with your defined color to compleated appontments (I use label named "Completed" with grey color);

                    2. Make a rule in autoformatting option that checks for some symbol in text that would mean to you that appointment is completed (I used "x" in the beggining of the appointment Subject. For this case in Advanced take Message field = contains = x. Or you can use any symol you like).

                    Regards,

                    E.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      fionamac:

                      I think you have the proper understanding of what AF is supposed to do. It is tricky, though. The condition to test if an item is actually complete works only as 'complete not equal to No' Don't ask me why.

                      Also, the order in which the rules appear in the AF list is important. Again, don't ask me why. I found out by trial and error.

                      Another OL quirk - you may have to exit OL and re-start for the AF rules to take effect. Also, while trying your rules this morning, I found that OL was not processing one rule at all, so I had to delete it and re-create it. Makes no sense, but it worked.

                      Also, if you are using the add-in, note that there are sometimes TWO fields named complete. One is from the standard OL model, the other appears under User-Defined fields and is part of the add-in. For me, I use the add-in and must put the user defined 'complete' field in my AF rules or they don't work.

                      For what it's worth, here are my AF rules in order:

                      Name: Completed
                      Action: sets label to Completed (gray)
                      Condition: User defined field 'complete' not equal to No

                      Name: Important
                      Action: sets label to Important (red)
                      Condition: whose importance is High

                      Name: Personal
                      Action: sets label to Personal (Green)
                      Condition: categories equal Personal




                      Ken

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by GTD Wannabe
                        I also use 'all day' appointments to show things have have to be done on a certain day.
                        Why not just use tasks and assign to them due dates?

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