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Where should all your project actions go in Outlook?

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  • Where should all your project actions go in Outlook?


    I was under the impression that all actions that you spec out when you create a project should go in the notes section of the project item in Outlook.

    However, according to the GTD Outlook Add-In manual...

    The Notes section attached to each project is a perfect place to jot “back of the envelope” thoughts about the project, simple bulleted-list components, etc. Any next actions associated with the project should be identified in separate Tasks. You should assign the project to each next action (Task) when you create it.
    So if it doesn't go there, where does it go (they aren't exactly NEXT actions so can't go in the actions list!)?

    I've brainstormed all the options I can think of below, but I'm not sure which one is the the standard method used (if there is such a thing). The options I see are...

    1. List all actions (in the form of an outline) in the project support material <-- This wouldn't be effective IMO as you can't refer to them almost instantly.
    2. List all actions in the project entry <-- this seems to be what most people do?
    3. List all actions in project entry, and list follow-up action in the next action entry
    4. List actions in project entry AND in the next action entry.
    5. List the follow-up action(s) in the next action entry for the project <-- This is the most flexible method. To use it effectively, I guess you need to make sure you always have one next action and one follow-up next action ready to be activated next!

    Anyone want to help me out here?


  • #2
    I put the "future" next actions in the memo for the project. I don't use Outlook or the add-in, but it is the same idea. I move them onto my next action context lists whenever they truly become my next actions.


    • #3

      Can anyone else help me out here please? I really need some input on this as I'm not sure what to do.


      • #4
        In the TASK section of Outlook I have a categories set up for PROJECTS AT WORK, PROJECTS AT HOME and PROJECTS - SALES.

        Each is set up with a name and/or with a positive outcome.

        So in my project list it would look something like:
        RANDY...application sent in
        My corresponding next action would be in a different category such as CALLS and that entry would be: client to get mailing address.

        I use the note section of the project to keep information, possible next actions, phone numbers etc.

        Once I complete the next action I try (I said "try") to put in the next action to move the PROJECT forward.
        The nice thing, is that if (and when) I forget to put in a next action, I will catch it during my weekly review. I print all of my next actions and compare them to my PROJECT list to make sure I'm complete.

        Hope that helps you!



        • #5
          Thanks Randy. It's helpful to hear you you handle this.

          Can I PLEASE have some more input here as this one thing I'm finding really hard to decide on and stick with.



          • #6
            When I was using just the native Palm apps, I did the same thing as Randy. Along the same idea, I considered listing my projects as memos, with the project name first, and subsequent actions underneath.

            Now, I use Shadow Plan for my projects list. I create a list for each project, and list known actions underneath. With Shadow, I can link each action into my ToDo app (where the rest of my NAs are stored) when I can actually do it.

            When I first started using GTD, I listed every possible NA I could think of with each new project. Now that I've been using it for a while, I find that more and more I just need to worry about the very next action. Looking at my project lists now, there's often only one NA listed under each project - the rest get developed when I either (1) complete the listed NA or (2) review the project during my weekly review.


            • #7

              I generally use the first method you describe: keep a project outline with the project support materials. For many of my projects, my outline isn't formal; it's a piece or pieces of paper with an outline of all of the steps I think need to be accomplished, grouped or sorted either by the order they should be done in, the people that need to do them, the context they need to be done in, the tool (e.g. a computer) required to do them. In a perfect world, this is the result of the project-planning process described in GTD, and it follows a brainstorming session. I keep it in my support material, which is either in my desk at work or my desk at home, because I usually don't try to do other planning when I'm not either at my desk at work or at my desk at home. And if I have my NAs up to date, I usually don't have to refer to it very often during the day.

              I use Outlook at work and a palm (native apps except for Wordsmith as the memo reader), and I use the Palm Desktop at home. I've toyed with keeping an entire project plan in the notes field of my project identifier, Shadow, Bonzai, and probably something else, and I found that keeping that system up to date was more trouble than it was worth: I was spending more time updating the system than doing things (not literally, but it felt like it). I'm more and more stripping down my GTD approach to the simplest form possible.