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New and Pondering

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  • New and Pondering

    I like DA's concept of lists, but am not sure how I integrate them with how I currently use Outlook. I use a combination of Covey's QII orgnanizing principles with many homegrown techniques that I've developed over 15 years of project and program management. I follow many of the GTD concepts, but I'm not sure of these lists. I've read DA's book on implementing GTD with Outlook and have previewed his add-in, but I actually like the intended project management-lite functionality in Outlook that DA claims is limiting.

    My current thinking is to create a task category named "Action Lists" and create tasks for all the suggested @categories. The actual items on the list with be inserted as bullets in the notes section of the task. This would allow me to retain my current category structure that maps to my various projects and roles.

    Any thoughts?

  • #2
    It sounds like your idea might work for you, but I'm not clear on what problem you're looking to solve. Do you currently have no NA lists? or just not ones arranged into different contexts?

    Outlook is a cool program, but I want to have my projects and their actions organized and linked together. And I do not want to have to create my context lists manually. And I want NAs to be shown on more than one context list. These are some of the reasons I use different software. But there are many GTDers using Outlook, so I'm sure that someone will have helpful ideas for you, especially if you describe your situation in more detail.


    • #3
      More detail

      Thanks for the recommendation of providing more detail - that was my first post ever to a discussion board. Here goes...

      I have NA lists but my contexts are my projects and general categories. Most of my projects have project work plans associated with them (MS Project) so I filter for what starts in the next 7 days and import it into Outlook under that project. I have configured dedicated task views by project that groups the NAs by due date and further prioritizes them using Outlook High, Medium, and, Low.

      The problem I have is learning how to use projects as DA intends and begin making better use of contexts.


      • #4
        GTD is not a PM system.

        GTD is not a project management system. So the project steps, milestones etc. are not necessarily your Next Actions.
        Next Action is doable in a given context without any preconditions.


        • #5
          I wonder whether you need this change. It sounds like you have an well-organized system for work (I'm assuming it's for work) that seems to be working well for you already. Unless you are experiencing a problem you haven't mentioned yet, such as having trouble translating the project steps from MS Project into GTD-style NAs for yourself. (?) If you are indeed experiencing this problem, then your strategy sounds reasonable to me.

          Every system of organization imposes a cost. For that cost, you want to reap a greater benefit. If you already come to work and have your work clearly defined for you, maybe you don't need to add any more layers of organization with their corresponding cost. There are usually diminishing returns with increased layers of organization. On the other hand, if you feel you are wasting time not knowing what you could be doing, or if important actions are slipping through cracks in your system, then maybe you need that new layer. If so, tell us more about what's not working for you right now. (And if so, hopefully an Outlook user will chime in with advice.)

          One of the forum members once developed a clever way to use Outlook to organize GTD-style projects/NAs. If I can hunt down his description, I'll post it. I'm pretty sure there are posts on this forum with the link.


          • #6
            Maybe you're right...

            Thanks andersons, I'm less focused on solving a problem with my current system and more focused on finding a way to take advantage of GTD. I am very happy with the current way I organize and plan so maybe I just shouldn't fix something that's not broken.

            Maybe I'll just read the forums for a while and see what I can learn.

            Thanks again.


            • #7
              Originally posted by vpierce
              I have NA lists but my contexts are my projects and general categories. <snip>

              The problem I have is learning how to use projects as DA intends and begin making better use of contexts.
              The strength of the GTD approach to NA lists is that they are organized by context rather than by project. But you can have the best of both worlds! Outlook allows multiple categories to be assigned. So why not create your NA contexts as categories in your Master Category List, and then assign them to each task in addition to the "project name" and "general category" categories you already have. I use an "@" symbol in front of each NA context category (@Home, @Phone, @Computer, etc.) so that (a) I can tell it's an NA context and (b) they float to the top of the Master Category list.