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  • Linenberger's new TWC for Outlook

    Michael Linenberger wrote a couple of highly-regarded books which I first became aware of from posts on these forums. His first book on how to use the Tablet PC most effectively as a productivity tool brought him considerable acclaim. This was followed by "Total Workday Control Using Microsoft Outlook", which I purchased after reading favorable comments about it here by the late Marc Orchant. Once I really delved into it, I found his prescriptions to be quite logical and helpful but I drifted away from much of his approach when I migrated to Outlook 2007 and added Avidian Prophet to provide CRM capability.

    Now, Linenberger has a new 2nd edition of TWC for Outlook; published just two weeks ago. I've been reading it for a couple of days now and am liking it a lot. It covers all of the most recent Outlook versions, with most of the screen shots from Outlook 2007. His thinking has progressed quite a bit since the first edition.

    Some will no doubt claim that TWC is inconsistent with GTD. But since my own definition of GTD may be a little looser and more encompassing, I find GTD and TWC to be perfectly compatible; even symbiotic. And for those of us for whom Outlook is the fulcrum of a trusted system, Linenberger shows us how to make it a far more powerful yet relatively frictionless tool. I highly recommend it.

  • #2
    I'm just finishing up Chapter 12 of the Second Edition of Linenberger's latest book. I had tried the approach of the First Edition a couple times, but it always seemed to be a bit convoluted for me. I always ended up returning to non-dated tasks grouped by Category (a la GTD white paper).

    But I agree that the new book seems more developed and more sound. One of the things I like is how tasks will appear on your list on the date you set, and you are compelled to face it and think about it then and there. My problem with GTD is usually having the same task list to stare at every day and losing interest in it. Linenberger's approach seems to avoid that "staleness".

    I used to swear by date-specific tasks as all-day events on my Calendar, but once they're done, I don't want to see them, so I really prefer them to be tasks that I can mark complete, a la Linenberger's "Manage Your Now" system.

    I agree GTD and MYN can coexist peacefully. I'm still undecided about what to do with my Projects and Someday/Maybe list in the MYN system. Linenberger discusses creating a separate Tasks folder for those kinds of "Master Tasks". Not sure I want to go there, due to breaking my handheld synchronization setup (i.e. ActiveSync only recognizes one Tasks folder).

    What I like most about the MYN system is that you can do as much or as little of it as you like. GTD often feels all-or-nothing to me. The Weekly Review seems to be the key to GTD, yet I've never managed to do more than a dozen in the last 6 years (2 a year????).

    We'll see how it's working 30 days from now.

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    • #3
      Blending GTD and MYN

      As an ‘Accidental Entrepreneur’ I have seven-day workweeks and am responsible for everything. My Task or Next Action lists always number in the hundreds. And since most of my waking hours are spent in my office—where telephones, files, computers and internet connections are always at hand—the action-by-context routine is largely superfluous for me. (I find it more useful on those occasions when I’m out and about.) I still find it more helpful to consider what things I should be doing in terms of time (i.e. daily lists and weekly lists) and in terms of interrelationships (i.e. Projects). So although I have hundreds of non-dated tasks grouped by Outlook categories (including @contexts) and by Project, I found that I was working mostly off of Outlook’s To-Do bar (especially once I migrated to Outlook 2007).

      I did one thing different when I set up Outlook for MYN. For the sake of expediency—since I didn’t want to have to deal with those hundreds (many of them Someday/Maybe’s) of non-dated items while learning the system—I left them filtered out of the To-Do bar. I think I actually prefer it this way. It allows me to keep everything that I don’t want to have confronting me in the weeks ahead safely out of sight and schedule to review them (monthly? quarterly?) at more realistic intervals and thereby maintain my focus on what I need to be doing in the near term. (Parenthetically, I’ve found it very useful to use Michael Hyatt’s 90-day challenge to provide direction and focus.)

      Also, I’m guessing that since MYN is largely self-refreshing, weekly reviews should be far less formidable and therefore more likely to get done. All in all, I’m liking it.

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      • #4
        Linenberger's new TWC for Outlook

        I'm about to read TWC 2nd ed. so am interested in whether it works for me. Like others here, I use MS Outlook as the core of my trusted system - more by compulsion than choice.

        If I like it I'll then look at the special ClearContext "version" for TWC.

        Jack

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        • #5
          TWC for Non-Outlook Users

          I am looking forward to reading the 2nd edition. FWIW, I don't use Outlook for projects or tasks or anything except email at work, but I did get a lot of very useful tips from the first book.

          For example, palm tasks can be set at priority 1 - 5. I use priority 1 to designate "hard lanscape" tasks and set dates appropriately. I use dates on other than priority 1 items to designate when I would like to review them in the future or potential complete them on the date assigned if possible.

          Dwight...

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          • #6
            smithdoug:

            curious about your use of prophet. one problem i had with it was the "sales assistant". it didn't seem very gtd friendly. when i entered in a routine, it wouldn't show on my task list until the due date. the problem i had was that i could never do a review to see my projects, etc. how do you do it?

            thanks in advance!

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            • #7
              MarkO:

              I have only the standard version of Prophet and it doesn't have the Sales Assistant. I believe the Sales Assistant is included in only the Professional and Enterprise versions. Prophet is really designed for sales but I use it more as a CRM tool and to track jobs through the shop; and I've changed some of the labels accordingly. But I think I can understand how you might have difficulties with the Sales Assistant. Have you considered asking the people at Avidian? They've always been quite helpful to me.

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