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  • 2 Outlook tips

    I've been doing a couple things for a while that have been working very well for me, that I haven't heard or read before, and wanted to share them. I use the area at the top of my tasks list just under the calendar items (it says "Type a new task" in it) as an inbox -- if I'm on a call or just sitting in front of my computer, I can just type a word or two ("Fred", "Cable guy", whatever) in there, and since it goes in uncategorized (there's the key) it pops to the top, separate from my next actions. I don't have to "process" the item to death, it can sit there raw for a few hours if need be.

    Anyway, I use that top space as one of my inboxes, and several times a day I scan it, and think "What do I need to do about Fred?" -- I double click the task, change it to whatever is appropriate ("Fred @404.555.1212 re: snakes") and change the category to @calls. I love how simple that is. It also makes it easy to consolidate and throw away notes from little pieces of paper ("Gas receipt $32.74") that I collect throughout the day, rather than toss a bunch of messy little pieces of paper into my physical inbox, knowing I'm just going to throw them away. I may decide to do a quick "process" round, too, if I have a minute or so.

    Also, I use "@categories" for everything except Projects themselves; my contexts are @agenda, @calls, @computer, @emails (that I need to compose), @errands, @home, @office, @review, and @wait.

    (I just started using @agenda after GTDing for two years, when finally I realized I can't always control the context that I communicate with people in; @agenda for boss used to be @office, @agenda for wife used to be either @home or @calls, etc. Sigh.)

    Anyway, from what I've heard/read, using tasks and a category in Outlook for @wait is a departure from the "standard" setup of having @Action and @Waitfor folders, which I don't have. What I do is this ... when I go look at emails, I "process" them and they get turned into a calendar item or a task and get filed instantly. (Of course, when you drag an email to the Calendar icon on the bottom of the folders pane, it creates an appointment, and when you drag one to the Tasks icon, it creates a task, but you knew that, right?) ... for example, say I get an email asking for some information I need to get from someone else. I might forward the original request to the person I need the info from, clarifying the request, and hit send. Then I drag the original email down to create a Task, change the subject slightly to reflect who I asked ("Air speed velocity of swallow" becomes "Eric Idle re: air speed velocity of swallow") and set the category to @wait, and file (or in this case, delete) the original. It takes seconds. Since I have the text of the request in the body of the task, it's easy to locate where I put the original if I did need to file it, and generally I don't need to refer to it again anyway.

  • #2
    Brilliant.

    Great suggestion about the New Task line. It can take the place of (and be more efficient for me than) Gyro-Q.
    What did you mean by using @categories for everything? You mean as a category itself for tasks? But you use other contexts as well -- I don't understand. Could you explain?
    Thanks for a great post!

    Jim

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    • #3
      No action or waitfor folders

      Originally posted by fassold View Post
      What did you mean by using @categories for everything? You mean as a category itself for tasks? But you use other contexts as well -- I don't understand. Could you explain?
      I don't use Action and WaitFor folders for email. It seems like having an "Action" folder is cheating -- you've only "half processed" the items in there -- you know you have to do something, but you haven't captured what the next action is. I take that one step further and drag my emails to create a new task, capture the next action, and file the original email away immediately.

      Likewise for the WaitFor email folder; rather than having two separate "waiting" areas, I have one: my Outlook Tasks, with the category @wait. For example, if I've asked someone a question about something, I stick a reminder ("Jim re: favorite color") in Tasks with @wait category. Likewise, if I get an email that I need to respond to but i don't have the information, I'll forward it (or make a quick phone call, or visit someone's desk, or whatever) and capture the original email as a task, and tag it @wait. Regardless, it's something I can review throughout the day/week to know what I'm stuck on that I need input from someone else or some external event.

      Ooh, that brings up one more thing about @wait ... in another thread, there was some scenario like "once a certain item is on sale, buy it" -- that seemed obvious to me: an @wait Task: "item x price < $y" -- that provides something to nudge you to check the price as often as you feel the need, or when the information comes in some other form (you see some advertisement, for example) ... so in general, I use @wait for anything where some external event needs to happen that I don't control.

      Thanks for the kind words, too.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by ihunter View Post
        I don't use Action and WaitFor folders for email. It seems like having an "Action" folder is cheating -- you've only "half processed" the items in there -- you know you have to do something, but you haven't captured what the next action is. I take that one step further and drag my emails to create a new task, capture the next action, and file the original email away immediately.
        I'll second that! The ability to turn emails into Next Actions in my main system is actually the one feature that got me to switch to Oulook some years ago. It feels *much* more natural (to me at least) than having a separate "Action" repository for emails.

        Best regards,
        Serge

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        • #5
          Originally posted by serge View Post
          I'll second that! The ability to turn emails into Next Actions in my main system is actually the one feature that got me to switch to Oulook some years ago. It feels *much* more natural (to me at least) than having a separate "Action" repository for emails.

          Best regards,
          Serge
          Yes, IMHO this is a must-have feature for a GTD system. We are very proud of how easy is turning emails into tasks in Needian - Organize in 1,2,3

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