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Too much time (processing email) is killing my GTD system

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  • Too much time (processing email) is killing my GTD system

    I am finding that it takes way to much time to process my email (turn them into ref, or tasks, or delegated tasks, etc). I can’t afford to keep doing it, even though I love my GTD system.

    I tried the Outlook plug-in, but it didn’t help much.

    I don’t mind spending an hour on Fridays for weekly review, but 30-60 minutes each morning just to process emails is too much. Maybe I get too much email… I never thought so.

    I suspect my GTD will not work if I stop. I also won’t have the satisfaction of an empty inbox.

    Is there a quicker way to do this?

    -jim west

  • #2
    I keep a task list, grouped by category on the left and my inbox on the right. I drag mails across to the task list (in the appropriate category) and type in the task name.

    The only exceptions are for read items, which I drop straight into the read folders.

    I certainly couldn't spend 2 minutes on each mail.

    For some obscure reason, I find it easier to work with my inbox grouped by sender.

    Hope this helps.

    FBA

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    • #3
      How do you create this 'split' view of the inbox and the task list. Do you use two outlook windows side by side or is their another trick to it?

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      • #4
        Nothing clever: just another outlook window (I right click on the task folder and "open in new window").

        FBA[/img]

        Comment


        • #5
          Hi,

          I have found it easiest to just keep e-mail in e-mail. I use the 2 minute rule as I process my in-box. Anything taking longer goes in the ".Action" folder. I then process the e-mails directly from the action folder. If an e-mail needs special attention I will calendar time to write/deal with it. In general this works great for me. Moving things to/from the contextual lists would not be "fast" enough for me.

          My 2 cents.

          Comment


          • #6
            thanks for the tip!

            Nothing clever: just another outlook window (I right click on the task folder and "open in new window").

            Maybe not too clever to you, but I'm sure glad you shared - I had no idea I could do this, and it's going to be a big help! Thanks!

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: thanks for the tip!

              Originally posted by mzehner
              Nothing clever: just another outlook window (I right click on the task folder and "open in new window").

              Maybe not too clever to you, but I'm sure glad you shared - I had no idea I could do this, and it's going to be a big help! Thanks!
              If you like doing this, you can experiment with single-click methods for opening that second window. You can do it from either the tool bar (where you can assign a shortcut key), or from the Outlook bar.

              To open a folder in a new window from the menu bar:

              1) Right-click somewhere on your tool bar and select "Customize" from the dropdown.
              2) Select the "Commands" tab, and then drag any Command to your menu bar, positioning it where you would like the new tool bar item.
              3) Right-click on the newly-placed tool bar icon, and select Assign hyperlink |Open from the dropdown.
              4) Under "Link to" click the "Existing File or Web Page" button.
              5) In the "Address" field, enter a link to the folder that you want opened in the format Outlook://Personal Folders/foldername/ where the folder name is something like "Tasks" and click the "OK" buttton.
              6) Right-click again on the newly-placed tool bar icon, and play around with the style of the button (text only, text and icon, icon). If you select an option with text, placing an ampersand (&amp before a text character will define that character as shortcut key that will work in conjunction with the "Alt" key (provided it doesn't conflict with some previously established shortcut key). For example setting the name of the tool bar item to "Ne&w" will set "Alt + w" as the shortcut key combination to open your new window.
              7) Clicking your new tool bar item (or using your new shortcut keys) will open the designated folder in a new window.

              To open a folder in a new window from the Outlook Bar:

              1) Right-click somewhere on your computer (the Desktop or some folder), and select New | Shortcut from the dropdown.
              2) A dialog box will open, and in the "Type location of the item" field enter the path to your Outlook program file enclosed in quotes followed by /select Outlook:\\foldername. For example the complete location would look like "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office10\OUTLOOK.EXE" /select Outlook:\\Contacts.
              3) Arrange the windows on your desktop so that you can drag the newly-created shortcut to your Outlook Bar.
              4) Drag the shortcut from your desktop or folder to the Outlook bar, positioning it where you would like it with the horizontal bar that appears where you are about to drop it.
              5) Right-click on the new Outlook Bar shortcut and select "Rename shortcut" from the dropdown to apply an appropriate title to the new Outlook Bar item.
              6) Clicking on the new Outlook Bar item will open the folder identified by your "foldername" in the shortcut definition in a new window.

              Be brave.....give it a try.....have fun.....good luck.

              Comment


              • #8
                Thansk, Bill.

                Gave it a try; had fun; more than 2 minutes!

                Couple of minor questions:

                Is there a way to set the new windows to come up without the folder list without changing the default for my Outlook startup?

                Is there a way to pick up the folder icon rather than the standard toolbar button icons?

                For anyone who keeps their folders in the mailbox, the address I ended up using was:
                outlook://mailbox - Ross, Will/tasks/

                Thanks and regards,

                FBA

                Comment


                • #9
                  Oh Boy

                  Oh boy, you give them the appetizer and they want the whole meal (just kidding!)

                  Is there a way to set the new windows to come up without the folder list without changing the default for my Outlook startup?
                  This one takes a little work:
                  From the Outlook Bar -- There is no one-step way to open a new "plain" window that displays a folder without the Outlook Bar or Folder List. However you can create a shortcut (in the manner described above) that opens a new plain window with the default folder. From there you can switch to whatever folder you want using the View menu or a tool bar button (see the thread at http://www.gettingthingsdone.com/for...27ba55dec84a99). To do this, use the following format in your shortcut "location of the item": "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office10\OUTLOOK.EXE" /Folder The /Folder switch creates a plain window. Unfortunately you cannot combine the /Folder switch with other switches, so you have to use a two-step process to open the desired folder.

                  From the Tool Bar -- Here we need a little macro to do the job, but we can accomplish exactly what you are looking for. Below is a macro to open the Contacts folder in a new window without the Outlook Bar or Folder List, but you can modify to open other default folders. Follow the usual macro creation process:
                  1) Back-up your pst file!!!!! (in case of any unexpected results).
                  2) In Outlook set your macro security to low or medium (Tools | Macro | Security on the menu bar).
                  3) Open the VBA Editor (Tools | Macro | Visual Basic Editor on the menu bar).
                  4) In the Project Explorer (upper left window pane -- open from the View menu if it's not there),
                  .....a) Right-click on the Modules folder
                  .....b) Select Insert and then Module from the drop-down
                  5) In the Module window that opens, copy and paste all of the code that I have posted between the horizontal lines below.
                  6) Close the Module window.
                  7) From the menu bar, select File | Save VbaProject.OTM.
                  Close the VBA Editor.
                  9) From the Outlook menu bar, select Tools | Macro | Macros.
                  10) In the Macros dialog box, select the "OpenContacts" macro and click "Run".
                  Here's the code:
                  __________________________________________________ ___________
                  Code:
                  Option Explicit
                  Public Sub OpenContacts()
                  
                      Dim objApp As Outlook.Application
                      Dim objExplorer As Outlook.Explorer
                      Dim objNS As Outlook.NameSpace
                      Dim myFolder As Outlook.MAPIFolder
                          
                      Set objApp = New Outlook.Application
                      Set objNS = objApp.GetNamespace("MAPI")
                      Set myFolder = objNS.GetDefaultFolder(olFolderContacts)
                      myFolder.Display
                      
                      Set objExplorer = objApp.ActiveExplorer
                      With objExplorer
                          If .IsPaneVisible(Pane:=olFolderList) = True Then
                             .ShowPane Pane:=olFolderList, Visible:=False
                          End If
                          If .IsPaneVisible(Pane:=olOutlookBar) = True Then
                             .ShowPane Pane:=olOutlookBar, Visible:=False
                          End If
                      End With
                  End Sub
                  __________________________________________________ ___________

                  To call the macro from your Tool Bar (similar to the hyperlink procedure above):
                  1) Right-click somewhere on your tool bar and select "Customize" from the dropdown.
                  2) From the "Commands" tab, select "Macros" in the "Categories" list.
                  3) Select Project1.OpenContacts in the "Commands" list and drag it to the Tool Bar.
                  4) Right-click the new button, and enter a new Name, and then press Enter. If you want the button to open with a keyboard shortcut, insert an ampersand (&amp character before the character in the name that you want to use as the shortcut. Outlook will assign Alt+character to that button.
                  5) Click Close in the "Customize" dialog box to finish adding the hyperlink button.

                  Is there a way to pick up the folder icon rather than the standard toolbar button icons?
                  There is no way to grab the "standard" folder icon. However, you can customize the icon on the Tool Bar button:
                  1) Customize the Tool Bar and right-click on the button you want to change;
                  2) Select "Change Button Image" from the dropdown, and select an image from the (meager) collection presented; or
                  3) Select "Edit Button Image" and make your own icon with the Button Editor. Warning!!! Playing with this will burn up more than two minutes.

                  Hope this explanation is clear enough.

                  Regards.....Bill Kratz

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Enhanced New Window

                    Okay, if you've experimented with opening folders in new windows with the macro described above, you might like to try this enhancement. You can specifiy the size and position of the new window. For example in the screenshot below, I have opened a Projects folder in a new window to display the Projects list on the right hand side of my screen.

                    After the "With / End With" section in the macro, I've added:
                    Code:
                        objExplorer.Width = 300
                        objExplorer.Left = 980
                    This opens my Project list in a window 300 pixels wide. Since my screen resolution is set for 1280 x 1024, I've set the postion to 980 pixels from the left (980 + 300 = 1280), so that the window displays at the far right of my screen. You can use Width, Height, Left and Top properties in code like that above to define the size and location of your window.

                    Here's the screenshot:



                    Hope this helps and stimulates a little imaginative thinking.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Back to the email thing: Have many rules to pre-process my email.

                      I create an email folder for any project I'm working on, and have a rule for all email that comes from any of the involved parties to move a copy of the email (crappy MS wording, not mine) to the appropriate folder. I sometimes create a rule to put a copy of any mail I send to any of the involved parties into the folder. I also have the Outlook option to keep copies of replies with the original email, rather than in the sent items folder. Unfortunately Outlook's version of this option specifies 'for folders other than the inbox,' but if you know how to do it for the inbox, I'd love to know.

                      I also have a rule to put all mail from 'junk senders' to the SPAM folder, and have button added to my toolbar to 'add to junk senders list.' Then I have a rule to put all mail 'where my name is not in the To: line, expept where it's in the cc: line' into the SPAM folder. These two rules used to get over 80% of my spam, now it's only about 50%.

                      I also have a few rules for specific domains that put their email into the SPAM folder. I do scan the SPAM folder, but very quickly. I also have the preview pane turned off for the SPAM folder. You have no idea how many viruses that saved me from.

                      This works fairly well as long as I monitor the other project folders using Outlook Today, or the folder list, so notihing gets by me. It does save a ton of time, since I don't have to process mail just to clear my inbox, and only have to address the project-specific stuff when I'm on that project.

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