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  • Getting Back on the GTD Wagon

    As a partially-lapsed GTD practitioner, I have a request for anyone who is solidly 'in the fold' of using GTD in a work environment, particularly with Outlook:

    I am about to start a new position - corporate, demanding, etc. They are all Outlook users, with VPN, multiple offices, etc. I have always been a Eudora / Palm Desktop user, keeping it simple, etc., but have spent the past few weeks familiarizing myself with Outlook and the GTD plugin.

    Any suggestions on

    A) Generally getting back on the bus and

    B) Using Outlook in a demanding work environment without being blinded by its complexity (I have a tendency to play with features and gadgets, like some others on this board!)

    would be most appreciated!

    thanks,

    Zootski

  • #2
    as far as outlook is concerned --using the plug-in will help keep it simple .
    Stick to the categories that it assigns for now @ office , @ home etc.

    I think NetCentrics did this at Davido's request (my guess) to keep people from overwhelming themselves with 250 available outlook categories .

    Process your email inbox using the plug in --be very strict about determing when something is really a project -do a weekly review and it should work well for you.

    The "automatic " wating for creator on send and delegate feature is very nice also.

    Comment


    • #3
      As a fellow lapsed GTDer, I can reassure you that Outlook itself is not the problem.

      My advice would be:

      Keep Inbox (with a folder tree), calendar, tasks and contacts open in separate windows

      In mail mode I usually work with tasks, grouped by category open on the left half and the inbox on the right. Then I drag mails into the appropriate next action category and type an appropriate header.

      I use "@... task" categories for actions and "~..." categories for projects.

      I start each task with the name of the person concerned and a colon. Then I shift the task merrily between @phone/@agenda/@pc/@waiting etc as things develop.

      When a task is needed on a particular day, I add a due date. This promotes it to my calendar view. So far as I am concerned, this is the same as pencilling it into a paper calendar.

      Well worth getting comfortable with the options when you right click the header row on a table view. In particular, I keep hte "group by" box open on the tasks and mail windows.

      I find it best to work from a flat list of mails sorted by date, but when I'm tidying up it is almost always quicker to sort by "from".

      I have a minimal set of folders and sort by "from" to find things. Or, in extreme cases, hit the "find" button.

      Outlook setup is pretty personal: this works for me.

      Good luck!

      Comment


      • #4
        Back on the GTD wagon

        Thanks - the 'separate window' trick seems to be working for me - less of a confusing interface.

        Here's another simple question: What is the Outlook equivalent of the 'memo' on the Palm or Palm Desktop?

        __________________________________________________ __

        Keep Inbox (with a folder tree), calendar, tasks and contacts open in separate windows

        Comment


        • #5
          This is only a guess, not having a Palm, but I'd assume that it would be a Note. Very basic text thingy?

          I don't use these much at all, except for:
          - my daily phone reply, which I edit and read off each day and
          - voice notes synched from my ppc - capturing flashes of genius when walking dog, etc.

          Mostly I use tasks or office tools.

          Another hint: learn the shortcuts:
          <alt>vxp collapses a grouped list
          <ctrl><return> sends mail
          <alt>s saves most forms
          <letter> goes to the first use of that letter in a list (found this
          by accident today after using outlook for five years!
          We can always learn...)

          Best of luck...

          Missed another weekly review

          Maybe next week?

          Comment


          • #6
            Keep Inbox (with a folder tree), calendar, tasks and contacts open in separate windows
            OK. If feel like a moron here. Most of the people at work come to me for Outlook tricks and tips, but I haven't yet figured out how to have all these open simultaneously in separate windows. I've been wanting to do this for quite some time. What am I overlooking?

            Thanx,
            Ricky

            Comment


            • #7
              To open in separate windows, just right click on the icon in the left frame of Outlook, and select Open in New Window.

              Comment


              • #8
                Doh!

                Thank you!

                Comment


                • #9
                  No blushes necessary, Rick. I have made more than my share of those little mind lapses.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    This is a great thread.

                    This is a great thread, thanks for the little tips and tricks! (I didn't even know you COULD open tasks, inbox, etc. in separate windows.)

                    As a total outlook newbie, I would greatly appreciate any other little tips and strategies that people have come up with over time.

                    Thanks!
                    Taxgeek

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: This is a great thread.

                      Taxgeek makes a good point - sometimes a small tip is all you need to get off a plateau and make progress.

                      Having spent more time than I care to admit making some DUMB mistakes (like putting someone's email address in the address field, and wondering why it would not come up as an available email TO: field), I have a question regarding the GTD Add-in, which I am using in trial mode:

                      I went through all my tasks, categorized them into projects, etc. Finally realized that the equivalent of the 'memo' attachment to a task on the Palm is in fact the text field on the task itsef in Outlook.

                      However, when I linked up with PocketMirror from Chapura, all my tasks make it onto my Palm, mostly without project categorization. For example, I have one project with three tasks. All three tasks ended up 'unfiled' on the Palm.

                      If anyone has experience with the add-in and linking to the Palm, I would appreciate hearing about it.

                      Thanks,

                      Zootski



                      Originally posted by taxgeek
                      This is a great thread, thanks for the little tips and tricks! (I didn't even know you COULD open tasks, inbox, etc. in separate windows.)

                      As a total outlook newbie, I would greatly appreciate any other little tips and strategies that people have come up with over time.

                      Thanks!
                      Taxgeek

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Taxgeek,

                        I only use Outlook for GTD at work. I use Outlook for email at home, but I use Palm Desktop for GTD. At home, Outlook is just an Inbox.

                        I save every email I receive or send, except SPAM. SPAM is the only think I delete. When a message arrives in my inbox, I open it and go through the workflow process: is it actionable? is it reference? ...

                        If it is actionable, I create a new task in the appropriate category. (More on this in a moment.) Then the email goes into one of three places.
                        - If the email has a single next action it goes into my Current Projects folder which is in my Inbox. This is where I store information that I will need for certain next actions and small projects. This folder usually has less than 50 emails in it.
                        - If the email pertains to one of my bigger projects it goes into a project subfolder that's in my Current Projects folder. I have one subfolder for each of my "big" projects.
                        - If I don't anticipate needing the email again, it goes into my "Old Mail" folder on my "C:\" drive. If I need something from this then I can always use Outlook's find feature. About once or twice a week I need something from this folder that didn't pertain to one of my bigger projects. (Usually my boss or a co-worker needs it, but at least I can get to it.)

                        During my weekly review, everything that is in my "sent" items folder gets dragged to a "sent" items folder on my "C:\" drive. Once again, it's searchable. I keep all my old mail and sent mail on my local hard drive because I only have 30megs on the Exchange Server. I back up this .PST file each month and at the end of the year I burn a CD with all my email for the year. About once every month or so I need to refer back to one of these CDs and it's very valuable to if nothing else just to "cover my butt."

                        I have my task list set to group by category (my GTD contexts) and then by Completed. These are sorted by date ascending. (I just wish that I could sort by date descending and have past due show up at the top, then due, then undated, then upcoming, like the Palm and Palm Desktop app does.) The grouping allows me to expand each context as needed. I only have to exapnd out the "Completed=Yes" section during my weekly review when I review and delete all my completed items. At this time I also catch any open loops that I may have missed when I checked a task as completed.

                        Hope this helps!

                        Thanx,
                        Ricky

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Palm Desktop / Outlook / Palm simplicity?

                          Interesting information, which of course leads to yet more questions. I am still struggling to come to grips with an Outlook / Palm approach, having convinced myself that using the Palm Desktop for personal stuff and Outlook for work stuff would be too complicated.

                          Looks like you are doing exactly that, as are a few other people who posted here. How do you deal with these two systems together, or am I making a mountain out of a molehill - do you just keep all work-related stuff on Outlook, and home-related stuff on the Palm/Palm desktop? And do you expect to carry work-related tasks and appointments with you on your Palm?

                          For example, if I get a notice that I have to be at a school-related meeting next Monday at 7:00 PM, I want this to be on the Palm, on the Palm desktop AND in Outlook so I don't space it out when sitting in front of my work PC. In this situation would you enter that information twice?

                          I had convinced myself that sticking with one desktop solution (ie. Outlook) and one PDA for everything would work, but am finding this is easier said than done, and I miss the simplicity of a semi-vanilla palm with the Palm desktop.

                          thanks for your input

                          Zootski

                          Originally posted by stargazer_rick
                          Taxgeek,

                          I only use Outlook for GTD at work. I use Outlook for email at home, but I use Palm Desktop for GTD. At home, Outlook is just an Inbox.

                          I save every email I receive or send, except SPAM. SPAM is the only think I delete. When a message arrives in my inbox, I open it and go through the workflow process: is it actionable? is it reference? ...

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Zootski,

                            Sorry for the confusion. I sync my Palm at work and I sync it at home. At work, the syncronization is done with Outlook. At home the syncronization is done with Palm desktop. I don't sync to both programs on the same computer. Syncing this was causing everything that is my Palm desktop at home to go into my Outlook at work, and vice versa. EVERYTHING is in the Palm, I just use two different programs to work with the information at the desktop level, depending upon which PC I'm actually at. Except for my weekly review I do most of my work on my Palm.

                            I hope this clears things up.

                            Thanx,
                            Ricky

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: This is a great thread.

                              Originally posted by zootski
                              I went through all my tasks, categorized them into projects, etc. Finally realized that the equivalent of the 'memo' attachment to a task on the Palm is in fact the text field on the task itsef in Outlook.

                              However, when I linked up with PocketMirror from Chapura, all my tasks make it onto my Palm, mostly without project categorization. For example, I have one project with three tasks. All three tasks ended up 'unfiled' on the Palm.

                              If anyone has experience with the add-in and linking to the Palm, I would appreciate hearing about it.
                              If you want to be able to sync all of your categories across, you need a program like KeySuite (also by Chapura).

                              Pam

                              Comment

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