Managing Projects through Outlook (not contexts)

Discussion in 'PUBLIC: Discuss Tools & Software for GTD' started by Owen Bradley, Dec 26, 2016.

  1. Owen Bradley

    Owen Bradley Registered

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    Hi All,

    This is the first time I've used the forum so I may be replicating a previous threat, I've had a look around and couldn't find one...

    Anyway, my question is more around how I can manage the project element of Outlook tasks better. I've implemented the GTD methodology on Outlook 2010 (I believe) at work. I've set up the contexts fine (as per the user guide available for purchase on this site) and that is working great, however it seems to become more cumbersome during the project management and weekly review phase.

    I find that treating projects in the same way as a context in Microsoft Tasks, by that I mean as a category, means that I often struggle to track the task to the project during my weekly review which could result in duplication and slower processing. I've tried having separate folders in the task list but that takes too much time, same with writing out a list of tasks in the project.

    For context, I use Omnifocus for my personal life. I'm not certain on how I can use things like plug ins and my iPad in work, they have very tight security policies.

    Any tips appreciated!!!
     
  2. kelstarrising

    kelstarrising I know some stuff about GTD

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    Hi Owen,

    One quick change to your tracking that might help is to add a unique keyword for the project to every related next action. Then you can use Outlook search to pull everything together.

    Hope that helps!

    Kelly
     
  3. bcmyers2112

    bcmyers2112 Registered

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    Welcome to the forum, Owen. I've used Outlook as my list manager in the past and I understand your frustration. In my case, I came to realize that for the most part I don't need linkages between projects and next actions so I stopped worrying about it.

    You may, however, have a use for such linkages that I don't understand. If that's the case, Kelly's suggestion is a good one -- probably the best one, in fact. I wouldn't suggest trying to come up with more complicated kludges (for example I tried using folders or categories to represent projects) as I've found that the more effort you have to put into the kludge, the more it creates resistance to using and maintaining your lists.

    Strictly speaking you don't need to link projects to next actions to practice GTD, but the feature can be a nice-to-have for some. If using Outlook is important to you (or if other options aren't available due to your employers IT security restrictions) then you have to learn to live with its limitations. If you really, really want the linkages, you'll have to use another tool.

    It might help if you can explain why you feel you need to see all of the tasks related to a project when reviewing it. Is there a particular reason why simply reviewing the projects and support material isn't enough to determine whether you've captured all of the actions you need to?
     
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  4. Andrea7

    Andrea7 Registered

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    Hi Owen,

    I use a combination of OneNote and Outlook, the integration between the two has helped me a lot in this arena.

    For large projects that require a lot of planning, follow-up, etc. (e.g. Implement New ERP) I have the full project plan and supporting information in a OneNote notebook related to the project. As I create tasks related to the project in OneNote, I tag them so they are synced with Outlook (Ctrl + Shift + K). I then update the category to add context to the Outlook task. When I complete my weekly review, I cover these larger projects first in OneNote. I refer to the main summary page where I have my running task list. As items are completed via Outlook, the status in OneNote is updated as well. I can easily see what the remaining next actions are or see that no additional actions have been identified. Typically no actions is usually an indication for me that I need to do more planning, since clearly if all the actions are done and the project is still not completed, I’ve missed something :)

    For my smaller projects (e.g. New Computer Set-Up) I do not need the same level of tracking and project planning. I simply have one task under the category .Project and the text of the task contains the next actions. Each action is added as a task as well with the appropriate category (context) as needed.
     
  5. bcmyers2112

    bcmyers2112 Registered

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    I did not know this was a capability of OneNote; when I used Outlook as my primary list manager it was before OneNote became popular. So I stand corrected about what is/isn't possible in Outlook.
     
  6. TheWazeGuy

    TheWazeGuy Registered

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  7. Suelin23

    Suelin23 Registered

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    I'm using Outlook 2010, with the contexts in categories. So just create many categories for both the contexts AND the projects. So most NA will get two categories assigned. When I review the NA list I sort it by category. Use prefixes on the category names so all of the contexts are listed first, then the projects
     
  8. Tom.9

    Tom.9 Registered

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    I still struggle with a combination Outlook/OneNote. As I cannot fully follow the steps mentioned, could you please give a concrete example for the steps mentioned above?
     

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