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GTD Outlook Plug-in best choice for Outlook Users?

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  • GTD Outlook Plug-in best choice for Outlook Users?

    Hi Everyone,

    I am new and would like to use Outlook (synching to my windows PDA) as the core of my GTD system and have a question to ask for those more experienced:

    Is the GTD outlook plug-in the best software in your opinion for Outlook users implementing GTD, or have you found more effective ways such as using Outlook for Email, but keeping your project/tasks list in another note based software?

    If you use another software for your lists/tasks/other features, please state what software you found was best and what system you created?

    I noticed people on the forum using other software programs along with Outlook, however I don't see why this is necessary since outlook with the plug-in looks like it solves everything...


    Last edited by Serene; 01-13-2006, 12:57 PM.

  • #2
    I am in the opposite boat, I guess.

    I am looking to be rid of Outlook, but need to sync with my HP hx4700. I only read my Gmail at home, but I don't have anything for my tasks and calendar.

    I use Pocket Informant on my PDA and I really love it, so I am hesitant to go away from that.

    If anyone uses any software to sync, please post it here, so that we can see both sides of the Outlook issuses.



    • #3
      Try Outlook on its own first

      I've tried many different types of software and while there are some great ones out there, I prefer not to have to run a multitude of products to accomplish GTD.

      This is why I run Outlook with the GTD add-in and PocketThinker for outlines (PocketThinker is an outliner that works within Outlook, as a stand alone program and on the PPC -- in all cases the outlines sync with each other).

      The GTD add-in is great but you may be able to fine by just setting it up manually (there's a pdf file you can buy from Davidco that shows you how). I'd probably start with the pdf file, to save yourself ~$60 and only use the GTD add-in if you find the manual method lacking.

      Good luck in either case and expect to get all kinds of advice (best advice is to start simple and try it yourself and always try demo versions of software for at least a little while before commiting to any of them).


      • #4
        I use the add-in daily with Outlook and I can't imagine going back to processing my Inbox without it. While you can easily implement GTD in Outlook without the Add-In, if you have any volume of e-mail the Add-In will help you process it quickly.

        I've tweaked my implementation a bit (mostly by adding some views that are specific to my work) and don't use all of the features to their fullest. (Still haven't figured out the advantage of the extra notes you can add to e-mail... and the new Journal features aren't as robust as I'd like, though I think that has more to do with the way Outlook was designed than anything they did with the Add-In).

        I figure the Add-In saves me anywhere from an hour or more a day in processing e-mail. For under $100 that's a bargain.


        • #5
          You might also want to take a look at the beta of Clear Context (v. 2):

          Although the main purpose of Clear Context is to prioritize your email Inbox (works with Outlook, only), they have added some new tools that give it some of the same functionality as the GTD addin. I took a look at Clear Context last year when it was new, but I didn't really find it to be useful for me. Now, however, there are Task, Delegate, Schedule and Defer toolbar buttons, as well as various views that let you see what you've scheduled, delegated and deferred.

          And, if you are an ActiveWords user, there is a new Clear Context ActiveWords agent.

          I've been playing with the beta and, while I don't have huge volumes of email on a daily basis, I have found the new toolbar buttons to be convenient. I've also recently slimmed down my Inbox. I used to have about 8 different folders with rules set up to shunt email into one of the boxes based on where it came from. Now, I let everything come into the main Inbox folder and let Clear Context work its magic. I still partly cling to the old way of doing things by having it show email based on when it came in, but Clear Context color codes messages based on what it believes the priority is. When I process my inbox, the new toolbar buttons let me set up tasks and appts quickly.

          It doesn't have all of the functionality of the GTD addin, but it has most of what I was interested in. It costs a bit less, too. REMEMBER: the new version is still beta software. I haven't had any problems with it, so far, but YMMV.


          • #6
            I like Outlook because it syncs painlessly with my Palm. That said, I don't use it for email, just the Calendar and Task list. I didn't bother with the Add-in, because it didn't add much to my experience. I make do with a custom field called Project and some home-made macros.

            I have a few programs I use for GTD:
            1. Outlook: hard landscape and next actions
            2. EverNote: project support materiel (e.g., lists of next actions that have to be done eventually, snippets of information clipped from the web, some reference material).
            3. OneNote: reference material that I want organized in folders/sections/pages, i.e., I don't need to really search it, just head for what I want. I keep other reference material in EverNote, which offers excellent tagging and search functionality.
            4. Onfolio: feeds and dumping things to read.


            • #7
              Thanks guys for the feedback - if anyone has any other configurations please contribute as I think this question pertains to alot of newbies...

              Rniven - thanks for the link to PocketThinker, this looks like very interesting software. Do you keep your project, someday/maybe lists, etc with this tool? I like the fact it plugs right into Outlook, a plus over those note/outline programs that stand alone from what I can tell...



              • #8
                Originally posted by Serene
                Do you keep your project, someday/maybe lists, etc with this tool? I like the fact it plugs right into Outlook, a plus over those note/outline programs that stand alone from what I can tell...
                That's exactly what I use it for. I also use it for brainstorming, developing project plans, etc. As you stated, the reason I chose it was because it integrates with Outlook and this way I don't have to have a separate outliner running.


                • #9

                  With the Outlook Plugin and PocketThinker do you find any need for other software such as evernote or onenote? Also do you use outlook for your tickler file system? I noticed some people on the forum use their outlook calendar as their tickler, however I'm not sure this is as good as a low-tech solution (since you can put physical things in it)




                  • #10
                    FWIW, here is mine.

                    I have PPC so carry it with me when I am mobile and want it to have all my GTD stuff when I get up from my desk. I don't use the plug-in because some of the stuff does not transfer to the PPC so I use the techniques in the Outlook Workflow Processing document and still refining them.

                    I use ListPro for that maps to my general reference file and holds the electronic part of it. It lists all the file folders I have in my general reference system and has folders that are not in my reference system (only electronc data so far). I use it also for brainstorming and listing projects.

                    Some of the tools in this thread look interesting though. But when looking for GTD software, it has to sync with the PPC. Just my requirement. Why have a PPC if you can take what you want with you?

                    Alot of my inbox to be processed is in my PPC in the form of recorded notes and written notes. My brain goes wild sometimes when driving or eating out.

                    This is fun! Happy GTD day to all!


                    • #11
                      I downloaded the David's PDF on configuring Outlook. It only took about 30mins and well worth the $10. I'm not sure what added value you get with the plug-in. If all the plug-in does is save you the bother of configuring Outlook yourself, I suggest going for the PDF - very easy to do it yourself.

                      Do you get anything else with the plug-in?


                      • #12
                        Before I go paying for the PDF, can anyone tell me whether these instructions will work equally well with any other email program? I use The Bat! for email, and love it so don't want to switch back to Outlook. I wish I could get a taste of the PDF without having to pay for it... Does anybody know of anywhere I could pick up some advice on using The Bat! for GTD?


                        • #13
                          If you go to David's shopping section, you can download a free 5 page extract from the PDF.

                          I don't know anything about BAT! but I don't think you would get anything from the PDF except broad principles. The PDF talks you through the process of configuring (specifically) Outlook 2000 ("click on View/Current View/Customise Current View..." etc).

                          It talks you through how to effectively use features of Outlook such as Tasks and Notes.

                          I guess if BAT! has similar functions you may be able to take some inspiration from the PDF.

                          I have to say that I wouldn't have been able to use Outlook as a GTD tool without having first read the PDF.

                          Hope that helps.


                          • #14
                            It does, thanks - especially the bit about being able to get a taster of the PDF

                            I hope others might come back with some ideas on using The Bat!


                            • #15
                              The plug-in does alot of the moving and copying of stuff for you by giving you prompts on what to do with things instead of you having to move stuff yourself. Essentially, the setup is similiar to the PDF with the addition of Projects (and a few other fields).

                              Regarding The Bat! - What a great program and lots of power, but I recently moved away for a couple of reasons. I was embracing GTD (and I realized how much I needed it) and it aligns better with Outlook and the fields that Outlook has rather than the Bat. I was moving to PPC and wanted to enjoy the portability of my PIM data so Outlook was the easiest choice (I tried others but syncing seemed to be shoe-horned into PPC because of their diversity). Wanted to be able to update my contact info and have them available for my email client - with Outlook, I could do that.