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  • Recommendations on Call/Email history using Outlook and GTD plugin

    I am currently looking to implement the GTD methodology using Outlook 2002 and using the GTD plugin to help me keep track of all of the contacts I'm making on my way to getting a new job. Since jobs in my line of work only last a few days to a few months, I'm always needing to make new contacts and keep in contact with the ones I've already made.

    How do I use the calendar, tasks, and journal functions to track all of my correspondence with each person?

    Here's how I currently use things although I'm definitely realizing that it might not be the best use of the tools.
    • When I make a new contact, I use the JOURNAL function to mark the date and time that I spoke or emailed with that person plus any notes relevant to that conversation. If I speak to that person over the phone and they ask me to email them a resume, I create a new journal entry and include the body of that email in the "notes" area.
    • I use TASKS to prioritize work (and non-work) related activities... "call Joe Smith about a possible job", "follow up with Don Johnson about another possible job", "call the electric company about my bill", etc. I also use an A-D grading scale to determine how important each task is.
    • I use the CALENDAR to mark specific work (and non-work) related events or appointments.

    One of the things I'm wondering is if I should create a new journal entry for every new phone call or email with the same person or if I should create a single journal entry for each person and keep my phone/email history there.. Or, should each contact become a new "sub-project"?

    Since I use Gmail for work-related emails, I am currently copying the key information from those emails into the journal entries. I'm sure this can't be efficient.

    How do I handle marking a contact as, "they don't have work for me now but will keep my resume on file". Currently I have an action called "@Inactive Waiting For" which means that, for now, I won't be talking/emailing with them but should follow up with them in a month or two.

    Thanks in advance.

  • #2
    I don't have a specific answer for this, but I have something that I've found helpful in similar situations.

    The perfectionist in me wants to have everything possible recorded in one place, but sometimes this is way too complicated for what it's worth.

    I often have to really force myself to think long and hard about: "What is the simplest solution here?" It is often not the same as the most comprehensive solution, but it is often far more effective--it is something I can actually maintain.

    In your situation, how badly do you really need all of that information you are talking about tracking? Would it just be neat, or is it absolutely essential for your existence? Do you need to spend time with every single contact to track the details, or might it be just as effective, and far easier on you, to keep a simple record somewhere of all the contacts (a list in Word, category in a database, a paper notebook, whatever), and then whenever you need the details of your last contact, just do a quick Outlook search or Gmail search on their name to pull up the emails?

    I don't know the answer in your situation, but for me, even though I'm often attracted to a comprehensive solution, and I think it'd be almost necessary, I later discover that the simple answer is far better and more effective.

    I think that everything needs to be in one system, but often I find that the system serves me better by maintaining a note: "look over there" rather than keeping every detail at my fingertips.
    Last edited by Chad; 04-05-2007, 05:11 PM.

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    • #3
      I agree with Chad that simpler is better.

      For phone calls of the "nothing now, call back in two months" variety, I jump forward two months in my calendar and write "Call John. Talked April 4. Frozbozz Project moving?" Same with emails. (Though they go in my calendar, these are actually tickler-type items.)

      Substantive emails get filed in a folder under the client (or potential client) name. For substantive phone calls, I jot down the relevant notes and file them similarly. These are reference material (or project support). If an action item resulted from the contact, that goes into my master NA list like any other action.

      And that's pretty much it. I've tried more complicated systems, but abandoned them because I got bogged down in the overhead. If the recordkeeping takes more time than a 30-second call to someone's voice mail, I'm just not going to bother.

      Katherine

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      • #4
        Thank you!

        Thank you for your replies. It's funny how often the simpler solutions are the better solutions.

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