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  • finding all tasks for one project using Outlook

    I am using Outlook, customized as suggested in David's article (but not with the GTD plug-in). My problem is that when I want to spend a couple hours working on a project, I don't have an easy way of finding all the next action items that I created for that project. Does anyone have a system for managing this?

  • #2
    The easiest way would be to include the project name in the NA itself. For example, Most of my NAs are of the form:

    [Project] next action to be taken

    If I'm looking for a specific project, just search for it, e.g., search for [ABCProject]. In the tasks lists at least, this search will give me a list of all entries with that 'tag', be they complete or not.

    Some people like to put the project at the end of the line, I like it at the front. In addition, I'm of the habit of saving [ ] square brackets for references, e.g., project names, citations, etc.

    Good luck!

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    • #3
      using categories works too

      Another way is assign all of the tasks an additional category name. For example, right now I have several things I'm working on to help me with a large proposal... so I have ^XYZ Proposal as a new category. Individual tasks for this project, such as "Call Karen for meeting dates" would have categories of @calls and ^XYZ Proposal.

      Then, in Outlook, I can sort by categories and get a list of tasks by context and a list of tasks by project. I use @ before all of my contexts and ^ before all of my projects, so I get all of my contexts on top and all of my projects on the bottom - all in one long list. Then I collapse/expand for whatever I want to view. "Call Karen for meeting dates" shows up on both my @calls and ^XYZ Project list.

      Julia

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      • #4
        I'm using the article, too, but not the plug-in.

        I set up my tasks by starting the subject field with an @ sign and the name of the project or client--like @Smith: Send organizer, @Jones Inc: 1099's and W-2's, etc

        This way, if I sort my tasks by subject, all of the tasks for that client or project will be together. I'm using Outlook 2002 so there may be more you could do with flags, etc in 2003. I don't use categories at all--just the client/project name. I have to standardize the client/project names, but that's trivial.

        I use the @ sign for work/business things because it puts those items at the top of the list (the sort order).

        I hope this helps--I don't use all the outlook features but have got the tasks working for now, so this may not be the type of answer you need.

        Comment


        • #5
          additional categories

          Julia, thanks for your idea. Approx. how many projects are you working with at a time?



          Originally posted by Julia
          Another way is assign all of the tasks an additional category name. For example, right now I have several things I'm working on to help me with a large proposal... so I have ^XYZ Proposal as a new category. Individual tasks for this project, such as "Call Karen for meeting dates" would have categories of @calls and ^XYZ Proposal.

          Then, in Outlook, I can sort by categories and get a list of tasks by context and a list of tasks by project. I use @ before all of my contexts and ^ before all of my projects, so I get all of my contexts on top and all of my projects on the bottom - all in one long list. Then I collapse/expand for whatever I want to view. "Call Karen for meeting dates" shows up on both my @calls and ^XYZ Project list.

          Julia

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          • #6
            I average about 50 - between home and work. I don't distinguish between the two on my lists - they sort themselves out reasonably well when I select my current context available.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by ldaniel
              I am using Outlook, customized as suggested in David's article (but not with the GTD plug-in). My problem is that when I want to spend a couple hours working on a project, I don't have an easy way of finding all the next action items that I created for that project. Does anyone have a system for managing this?
              Just to keep the subject field clear, I use the Billing Information field.

              Tom S.

              Comment


              • #8
                I handle my task in this same manner. I like that you have 1 task and it sorts by category in the appropriate categories. So if you need to have a quick look at all the task under the project, XYZ you have it. Also by having only 1 task, once you mark it complete it is removed from each category. Having multiple task that are identical can create problems when you miss marking one complete. It causes you not to trust your system and you begin to question if you actually completed a task or not.

                This method is also good when you want to print a list of task based on category. I carry my list in a binder, I print each category on sepearte list to carry around. For example, printed list of @Errands or @Anywhere. I can also print list of task by project to take to project status update meeting. I have a quick list of my "to-dos" and can easily jot donw new projects to do for entry when back at my computer.


                Originally posted by Julia
                Another way is assign all of the tasks an additional category name. For example, right now I have several things I'm working on to help me with a large proposal... so I have ^XYZ Proposal as a new category. Individual tasks for this project, such as "Call Karen for meeting dates" would have categories of @calls and ^XYZ Proposal.

                Then, in Outlook, I can sort by categories and get a list of tasks by context and a list of tasks by project. I use @ before all of my contexts and ^ before all of my projects, so I get all of my contexts on top and all of my projects on the bottom - all in one long list. Then I collapse/expand for whatever I want to view. "Call Karen for meeting dates" shows up on both my @calls and ^XYZ Project list.

                Julia

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Tom Shannon
                  Just to keep the subject field clear, I use the Billing Information field.

                  Tom S.
                  If you turn on advanced tool bars (View>Toolbars>Advanced) there will be a small icon called "Field Chooser" (mouse over to see the name). Clicking it brings up a floating window. From the drop-down, select "User-defined fields in folder". You should see the GTD fields of Project, Subproject, etc. Simply click-n-drag onto the existing headings. To remove a column you don't use, simply drag it off of the headings bar and release.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Using contact as project method

                    Another approach in Outlook that works really well for me is the contact as project method that has been discussed on this forum at length. Here is a link as to how to set this up.

                    http://home.comcast.net/~whkratz/id3.htm

                    I hope this helps.

                    Best wishes,
                    Longstreet

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Longstreet, the main problem I find with the projects as contacts method is there's no way to get an over view of all your NAs grouped by project.

                      For my tasks I use the category for the context, and I can have a neat grouped view where by I can collapse all the contexts apart from the one I'm working in.

                      But it would be a massive help to be able to do this for projects - see a list of collapsible projects, and I can expand the one I'm working on to see all my NAs for that project, without having to open the contact window and go to the activities tab, and then wait for the clunky outlook search to whirr into action.

                      Any ideas?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Next Actions connected to Projects

                        Hi Meza,

                        Yep -- you have a good point here. This is exactly what I would like as well, but can't seem to do it in Outlook. I too do not like the clunky search on the activities tab as sometimes it seems to take forever. One other option that has been discussed here is also a search-based method. Assign a code unique to each project and make sure you include that in the subject of the next action. One can then do a search for all actions with that code and you have a much quicker list of next actions for that project. Granted, this is still not what is ideal as you describe, but I have not been able to find a way to do this in Outlook. One person on this forum stated that she makes category entries for each of her projects and then adds this and the context category to the next action. That way all next actions associated with the project would be listed under that particular project category. But that won't synch well as there will be a huge number of Outlook categories and I think it would become very cumbersome.

                        I know there are other programs out there that do allow you to have next actions listed under a project -- Life Balance is one that has been discussed here a lot. But if you are like me -- my entire university is Outlook-based and so everything I do is on Outlook. I could use another program as well to supplement, but it seems like too much additional work. David Allen warns against becoming an organizing junkie -- one that spends so much time on their systems that they don't really get things done!

                        Does anyone else have any ideas/suggestions on this age-old problem of having next actions sorted and listed by project as well as by context?

                        Longstreet

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Longstreet
                          One person on this forum stated that she makes category entries for each of her projects and then adds this and the context category to the next action. That way all next actions associated with the project would be listed under that particular project category. But that won't synch well as there will be a huge number of Outlook categories and I think it would become very cumbersome.
                          I don't know if I'm the poster you're referring to, but this is the method I use.

                          I use Beyond Contacts on my PDA (a Palm Tungsten E). Unlike the standard Palm apps, it supports multiple categories per task, and a much larger number of categories. I think the standard Palm apps pick up the first category listed and ignore the rest. For my PDA use, having just the context-sorted lists on the Palm would be fine, but YMMV of course.

                          The large number of Outlook categories isn't a problem because the context categories all sort to the top (@Phone, etc.). For most purposes, I just ignore the project listing, but it's there when I need it.

                          In the interests of full disclosure, I should point out that my master NA and Project lists actually live in ResultsManager, a MindManager add-in. It handles Outlook category assignments and syncs to Outlook for me. I mostly use Outlook and the Palm as read-only lists, not as my primary management tools. I have no idea how cumbersome this approach would be for someone using Outlook as their primary tool.

                          Katherine

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            View by project

                            Originally posted by Meza
                            Longstreet, the main problem I find with the projects as contacts method is there's no way to get an over view of all your NAs grouped by project.

                            For my tasks I use the category for the context, and I can have a neat grouped view where by I can collapse all the contexts apart from the one I'm working in.

                            But it would be a massive help to be able to do this for projects - see a list of collapsible projects, and I can expand the one I'm working on to see all my NAs for that project, without having to open the contact window and go to the activities tab, and then wait for the clunky outlook search to whirr into action.

                            Any ideas?
                            If I understand you well, this is quite easy to do with Outlook.

                            First, assign a "project-as-contact" to a group of related tasks. Then on your tasks folder, click "View", "Arrange By", "Current View", "Define Views". Copy "By Category" and rename it to "By Project". On the following window, click on "Group By" and instead of "Categories", choose "Contacts", "OK" and "Apply View". Voilą, you should have your tasks organized by projects.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              More mobile approach

                              Originally posted by kewms
                              In the interests of full disclosure, I should point out that my master NA and Project lists actually live in ResultsManager, a MindManager add-in. It handles Outlook category assignments and syncs to Outlook for me. I mostly use Outlook and the Palm as read-only lists, not as my primary management tools. I have no idea how cumbersome this approach would be for someone using Outlook as their primary tool.
                              The MM/Outlook combo is fantastic, and it really worked for me for more than a year. Eventually though, I had to adopt a more mobile system and the combo is too "desktop-centered". I am using using now an adapted version of the "project-as-contacts" for all the system, including the higher views. Very powerful method, easy to work and manipulate anywhere (Keysuite/Beyond Contacts), especially if you keep your pst small (file email reference folders as a separate pst under your project folder).

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