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Integration of a paper planner with Outlook??

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  • Integration of a paper planner with Outlook??

    Hi Folks,

    Has anyone else tried to integrate the use of a paper planner -- like the real nice one from PlannerPad -- with Outlook? My university is all on Outlook and my entire schedule and next actions lists are on Outlook....but I use to be a real paper person and am not completely comfortable having everything on a computer. I could have a pda as a backup, but I don't like the smallness of the screens, plus I can't see things visually for planning purposes as well -- the old week or month at a glance view is still wonderful. I also like the idea of having a permanent, paper back-up of my entire system (minus the emails, of course).

    So...has anyone tried to do both? It seems like a lot of work, and maybe is too much to maintain two systems at the same time. I would appreciate any advice.


  • #2
    If I were to go that route I would print out calendar views from Outlook. This way what's in there shows up on paper.

    Once a week, before the weekly review, I would process the paper commitments back into Outlook.

    I would go for a one week view plus a month-at-a-glance, maybe. The one week period makes it possible to "paper sync" easily with Outlook. Dates further into the future can just be scribbled on a list and inserted at the appropriate dates in Outlook.

    Not to say that I would recommend this setup: it's not my own favorite. I prefer using Outlook with a PPC. Easy for me to say, I hardly need to check my calendar


    • #3
      Ruud's idea works great!

      I use Outlook for email and calendar, but everything else in my system is paper - plain old yellow legal pads. Similar to Ruud's suggestion, I print my calendar at least weekly, though in monthly view. I jot calendar notes on the hard copy and "sync" it when I return to the office. I've taken paper to the point where I'll print certain emails and stick them in my physical inbox so I can keep the virtual inbox clear. For me, it's been quick and efficient, and perhaps more importantly, it keeps me from getting caught in the I-need-a-better-newer-shinier-tool vortex.


      • #4
        Thanks for the great suggestions!

        Thanks for these great suggestions. I am printing out my Outlook calendar in the weekly view now and carry it with me to meetings. I synch my paper notes and next actions and new appointments into Outlook on a daily basis.

        I may also print out the Monthly view and see how that works.

        I do understand the "need a new, shiny, digital toy...and the best every year mode".

        Best regards,


        • #5
          Hi Longstreet, I've been an Outlook for Email/(Some) Calendar and Paper for everything else GTDer for about 9 months now. Basically, for me, my main system is all paper. Even my calendar I try to keep a master list in paper. I also have my work appointments and appointments during the day in my Outlook calendar, purely for scheduling purposes, but I find its easiest for me to use the Paper Calendar as my master tool, and then do a manual sync (actually writing things down vs printing them out). I find when I'm updating the calendars, either at the Weekly Review, or if I know that I've added a lot of events recently, the actual act of writing everything down makes things easier to grasp.

          Good luck!



          • #6

            At my work, we use Lotus Notes for e-mail and the calendar, but I put everything else in a paper planner. I don't print out the calendar, though. I just keep projects, NAs, and notes in the planner.


            • #7
              Originally posted by Brent
              [...] I put everything else in a paper planner
              I love shiny tools, productivity pr0n and grew up an admin freak. So I do understand the paper planner love ... but wonder why you prefer it over electronic.

              Note: maybe tasks delegation is an issue... I receive most tasks per email and writing them out would just be a loss of time...


              • #8
                Originally posted by Ruud View Post
                Note: maybe tasks delegation is an issue... I receive most tasks per email and writing them out would just be a loss of time...
                Lots of people say this, but is it actually true? I receive many *projects* and tons of project support material via email, but very few *next actions.*

                For the same reason, I wonder about any solution that includes the phrase "drag emails to your Action folder." YMMV, but my typical emails require noticeable processing to extract the actual action items. Using an Action folder would encourage me to defer that processing. While my Inbox might be empty, I'd still have plenty of "stuff" sitting around.



                • #9
                  I see what you're saying and those are good, valid points. However, even when an email is more project than action, or even just pure reference, putting it all on paper takes times. The task/project needs to be linked to the email.

                  I do at times use a paper list of NA's to have a cleaner and harder edge.


                  • #10
                    Maybe that deserves another thread but a few of my people struggle with paper against Outlook. The problem is they have Nokia phones that don't support any GTD software. So they have to use paper. But it seems very difficult to open the needed page when driving just to find out your calls or open multiple pages with different contexts just to choose the most important Next Action among all the contexts. How do you struggle with that (in Outlook it takes seconds to do, PDA as well)?



                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Ruud View Post
                      I love shiny tools, productivity pr0n and grew up an admin freak. So I do understand the paper planner love ... but wonder why you prefer it over electronic.
                      The task/project needs to be linked to the email.
                      Why? I don't link my tasks/projects back to the e-mail that spawned them. If I need to reference information that's in an e-mail, I just do a search for a significant keyword.

                      Here's how I use my paper planner:

                      Earlier today I received an e-mail from Visible Corp, the vendor who provides our CM system, saying that our yearly licenses are due to expire soon. I replied, asking for a quote, then opened my planner to a blank page. I wrote "Update CM system with new licenses" at the top as the Project, then put a sticky on the page labeled "Waiting For: Quote from Jen at Visible"

                      Later this morning, I received the quote. I flipped my planner to the "Update CM system with new licenses" page, pulled off the sticky, and wrote "Create Material Request" as the first item in the list.

                      Later, I had some time to take care of that, so I created the Material Request, crossed off that item in the list, and put on a sticky labeled "Waiting For: Material Request"

                      Does that make sense?


                      • #12
                        That sounds very good. It's something I'm tempted to try at the very least as I do like the physical experience of "paper work".

                        Linking back to email... Example from this morning... I receive an email with 20 URLs for pages which need to be changed on a web site. Although it is a long list this is typically something I do in one go, one sitting: it's a next action. Normally I would use that email as the NA indicator (to do bar in Outlook). Once done I can double-click the item to open that email, hit reply, and report back that these things are done.

                        I guess if you need to refer back to an email, either as reference material or because once your project/action is complete you need to reply, you write down the subject line?


                        • #13
                          Ah-ha! Thank you; the specific example makes your situation clear to me. I can see why you need to tie e-mails to tasks.

                          If I need to reference an e-mail, I write down the author and date ("Peter, 15 Nov"); with that I can find the e-mail in seconds.