I use the Journal in Outlook as a record of my telephone calls. As a Claim Examiner, I need to document my communications for claim files. I found this feature to be an excellent way to document phone calls and have them legible for others to read
I forget what all the signals were, but the Outlook Journal has been deprecated by just about everybody, including micro$oft. One signal is certainly that it is turned off by default, another is that it is not mentioned much in advertising info about Outlook, another is the lack of add-ons that interact with it. I think M$ saw it as a feature that would tie people in to *their* office software in order to have a clear record of what a person did when on his/her PC. It turned out that the automatic information provided by the journal was not helpful to most individuals or organizetions. I am not saying that you should not use it for your purposes, just that it is probably at an evolutionary dead end, and might be dropped in future Outlook versions.
The nice thing about Journal is the ability to keep all communications with any contact you specify handy. You can track as mentioned phone calls, any Office document, email, etc. I even have some code that allows me to use Journal as a Time & Expense tracker for clients I bill on a flat rate or hourly basis. Then the code generates an invoice that goes to Word to print out the invoice.
I don't think that Journal will evolve "out" of the product of Outlook anytime soon. It is a powerful tool as is, and with some VB code is an extremely powerful tool for other chores. Granted, with all of the new desktop search tools you can find documents easily, but to have them at hand for your specific contacts without performing a search is fantastic.
I think that Journal works best when you customize it. For example, I have a lot of meetings to keep track of. I have a paper checklist for these meetings, but I like to play around on the computer as well, so I incorporated my checklists into Outlook. For each board meeting, I call the board members to find out if they will attend the meeting. Past experience has proven the need to document everything about these calls. I use Journal to do that. I have a customized Journal view for each board for which I organize meetings. It's table format, and it lists each board member, whether or not they said that they would attend (members who plan to attend are in bold), the date and time that I confirmed their attendance (you can put in your own dates and times; you're not limited to the automatic dating), and any applicable notes, such as who I actually talked to (an assistant, etc.). I have the views set up so that I only see the applicable month's confirmation info at a time.
When it's time to make my phone calls, I pull up the appropriate board member distribution list in Contacts and do a "New Journal Entry for Contact" as I make the call. I enter the confirmation info, select the appriopriate board in my categories list, and save. On meeting day, I print off my list (downside: I have to change the title each time since I'm dealing with so many different boards), so that when everybody is late to meeting, I can answer questions about who said that they would be there.
ETA: If a board member responds via e-mail, I simply copy the e-mail to Journal, add a category, and it shows up on my confirmation list as well.
I can upload a print screen of what it looks like, if anyone's interested.
I also use Journal as a simple journal. If I want to remember when I had a conversation with a co-worker about a project, I create a journal entry and add the details there so that it is easily accessible. These entries can easily be linked to other Outlook items and vice versa.
One more thing that I forgot to add: In Outlook, you can change the columns to say whatever you want them to say, so think outside the box when thinking about ways to use Journal. For the confirmation views that I described above, my column headers are:
Incidentally, my e-mail column headers are:
Who's bothering me now
What they want
When they sent this nonsense
...I think M$ saw it as a feature that would tie people in to *their* office software in order to have a clear record of what a person did when on his/her PC. It turned out that the automatic information provided by the journal was not helpful to most individuals or organizetions...
I tried the automatic journaling feature of Outlook and found it prohibitively resource intensive -- consuming large amounts of CPU, for example. (My machine ground to a halt.)
I would love to see a screen shot of how you organize Journal for tracking board responses. It would be very helpful. Mercifully, I've only got one board to manage - and that's plenty. (How do you do it?!)
How do I manage everything for three boards that each meet once a month plus get all of my other projects done? Any way that I can!
Here's a screen shot of the customized Journal view for one of my boards:
There is a view for each board, all set up the same way (we have Outlook 2000 at work):
Fields: Icon, Subject, Contact, Start, Notes (I rename all of these; see my previous post)
Sort: By Subject, descending order ("subject will be either Yes, No, or LM for "left message"; I want the Yes responses listed first)
Filter: Start on or after 30 days ago (I don't need to see the confirmations from the previous month)
Automatic Formatting: If subject=Yes, bold; all = purple (You set up a rule to do whatever text formatting you want)
That's it. I print it out on meeting day. I've now set up a print style for each board so that I don't have to change the titles anymore.
As with most things in Outlook, you'll probably spend a little time setting everything up the way you want, but once you do, it's a great time saver. I've completely incorporated my paper meeting checklists in Outlook, right down to color-coding Tasks for each board.