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Outlook - Project Management

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  • Outlook - Project Management

    Hi All,

    Hope your all enjoying your summer so far.

    I've been using the GTD system for some time and never ventured beyond the Oulook implmentation I used from day one. I have switched to a BlackBerry device from a Pocket PC and have been able to maintain similar functionality.

    Its interesting to see the amazing development out there for implmenting GTD and most appear to be very desktop centric and or device specific. If your anything like me your rarely at a desktop for too long and need a system that will provide full functionality when mobile.

    I thought I'd share my very simple method for keeping track of projects and next action(s) related to a project. I know a lot of people feel linking the information is unecessary, I just don't understand how, unless your the boss and have no one to report to... Or have so few projects that it doesn't matter.

    Here's what I like about this method:

    -It uses Outlook (I'm an Outlook fan) its extremely extensible, well supported by third party add-ins and flexible.
    -If your mobile device can sync to Outlook and your PC folder structure, the system and all of its contents will be available on that device
    -Its free if you own Outlook

    Emails, Tasks, Calendar items are all linked via the project name. Entered in the subject line first ex. [Project1]

    Project support materials are kept in a folder with the same name ex. Project1

    To have a complete view of projects and their related emails tasks and calendar items create a custom search with the following parameters:

    Look for: Any type of Outlook Item
    Search in: Calendar, Tasks, Email
    Search for the words: [
    Advanced Tab Filter: Date Completed - does not exist

    Select the columns you would like to view and sort by subject.

    Save the search and drag the item to your shortcut bar in Outlook.

    The only additional overhead you have to do, is to simple add the project name to your items as you create them as the first word in the subject line. Support materials are put in the relevant folder.

    You can now also create views in the Outlook tasks folder using similar paramaters.

    The Blackberry device I use acts as a memory card when synced so I use a program called syncback to synchronize the contents of my support folders whenever I connect my BlackBerry.

    The only missing link is the ability to create a serach view in Pocket Informant on the BB but apparently that is something they will be adding to version 2. Otherwise I always have everything I need when I'm on the road.

    One last note, I don't put the project name in related contact primarily because a project name almost always has the name of the contact or organization in it.


    Last edited by mmelo; 07-30-2009, 04:05 PM.

  • #2
    Hi - trying this

    "create a custom search with the following parameters:"

    I can't identify exactly what you mean by a custom search. I managed to do the things you describe with

    Tools->Instant Search->Advanced Find

    But I can't seem to save it. I'm using Outlook 2007. Can you review your instructions and see if there's some specific step or more specific name you've missed out?



    • #3
      I've been having some success with this. Apologies if I'm reiterating something in the Outlook 2007 GTD PDF - I only ever bought the 2003 one so I don't know.

      I used a new view in the tasks pane. I normally use "By Category" in the "Current View" list.

      I used the menu:

      View->Current View->Define Views...

      This gave me the "Custom View Organiser". I created a new view of the "table" type. I called it "GTD Weekly Review". You can then customise this view.

      I used columns Attachment, Subject, Categories
      I sort by Subject, Ascending
      I added two automatic formattings
      1. "Projects" font underlined, condition (advanced) "Categories contains Projects"
      2. "Unprocessed" font Bold 10pt, condition (advanced) "Categories contains Unprocessed"

      This gives me a combined project-and-next-action view I can work through quickly on my weekly review, and because it doesn't use coloured formatting it will print well so I can do it on paper if I like.

      It is tailored to some specific things in my Outlook categories which may differ from yours.

      My projects and NAs are all in the same task folder. I have NA categories for example "!Home" I also have the following categories:

      "^10K Projects - Personal"
      "^10K Projects - Professional"

      The unprocessed one is an inbox which simulates writing a note and throwing it in. I find it quicker to do Shift-Alt-K to put a thought into my inbox than to put it on a paper not in the office. In an attempt to separate Process from Collect, I won't define outcomes and projects at that point.

      I adapted your example of tagging al items with brackets. On the project I put 3 or more spaces after the close bracket. On the NAs I just use a single space like you might be inclined to do. This results in an excellent sort on this view where the project always precedes its actions - yet they are together. E.g.

      [bathtap]   I get the bathroom sink tap reversed so it is the correct way around            ^10K Projects - Personal
      [bathtap] identify which tools I will need to disconnect the tap and make sure I have them  !Home
      [bathtap] PersonX - agree date and time to do tap move                                      @Agendas
      [fridgelock]   I secure the fridge door with a lock                                         ^10K Projects - Personal
      [fridgelock] purchase a fridge child lock suitable for our fridge                           !Errands
      Anyway, I learned something from the exercise - hope it's of use to someone else who needs to procrastinate from actualy doing


      • #4
        My company, Automation Centre, offers a Web based project management system that integrates with email systems, including Outlook. It offers tools for scheduling work, resources and CRM. As far as Outlook integration goes, you can surface it in your Outlook client, and drag-and-drop your Outlook emails to a folder to create tasks and project documents based off of them. There's a free demo if you'd like to try it out. You can learn more here: .