Outlook Task User Considering Google Keep: Advice Needed

Discussion in 'PUBLIC: Discuss Tools & Software for GTD' started by Louis, Mar 27, 2017.

  1. Louis

    Louis Registered

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    Hi,

    Apologies for the long post. I implemented my GTD methodology in Outlook a few months ago when I started a new job. My system consists of using Outlook categories as context lists. I chose Outlook because Outlook/Office 365 is our main collaboration system at work and I've used Outlook intermittently since 1995. I needed to follow the path of least resistance to get this initiative off the ground and learning/maintaining an additional software program would have created an additional hurdle. I attempted to setup Todoist and Wunderlist but abandoned both due to the amount of complexity in trying to figure out my GTD system.

    The feature that originally pulled me towards Outlook was the ability to convert an email to a task by dragging the email over to the task pane. However, I find I rarely use this feature because the email may have an (implied) action item buried among reference material or the email title doesn't explicitly state the action.

    While Outlook has been great at helping me organize my work and personal life, it has some serious deficiencies that prevent me from moving to the next level:

    Poor cross-platform support
    I use a Windows 7 PC at work, Mac OS at home, work-issued Android, and personal iPhone. On all of the devices, I use Microsoft Outlook for email/calendar. For some strange reason, Outlook doesn't support tasks on iOS or Android. This forces me to fill the gap with third-party apps TaskTask on iOS and Nine on Android to support Outlook tasks & categories on mobile. While these apps fill a void, they tend to be very unreliable. For example, if I add or edit a category in Outlook, the updates do not appear in TaskTask unless I remove and re-add the Exchange account. Also, I use Mac OS at home and Outlook for Mac doesn't support category grouping for the task view. Additionally, I have my personal tasks in Hotmail so that my employer cannot view personal stuff like a vacation I'm planning. Again, Outlook for Mac doesn't support Hotmail Tasks at all. Due to these limitations, I have to manage my list using one of my mobile phones instead of my Mac. The consolidated personal/work list that TaskTask displays on my iPhone is excellent but there's only so much I can do on a phone with a small screen.

    Unreliable syncing due to technical issues
    On several occasions, I have added something to my list and found that TaskTask or Nine was out of sync with the list in Outlook or Hotmail. I don't blame the app developers as i seem to have this issue with syncing any Microsoft technology. I have similar problems with OneDrive and OneNote (unless I'm using Windows). I change one line of text in OneNote and it takes 5 minutes to sync on my 100 Mbps high speed connection. When I edit a note in Google Keep or in Apple Notes, the syncing is instant and transparent as it should be in this age of cloud computing. I have no idea why MS doesn't fix their horrible sync engine. Again, this makes me very reluctant to trust the system due to these technical issues.

    Recurring tasks are always persistent in my lists
    If I create a recurring task in Outlook, it's stays on my list even after I check it off. There's no way to hide recurring tasks until closer to the due date which would be ideal. For example, I always see "Submit timesheet" on my list everyday even though this can't happen until Friday. My list is polluted with these recurring tasks and I have to mentally "filter" these items in my head.

    After browsing this forum and playing around with different GTD apps, I'm starting to gravitate to Google Keep for these reasons:

    Ability to create daily routine and reusable checklists
    I can create a list (with checkboxes) called daily routine or create a reusable packing list for when I go camping. Since Outlook doesn't support subtasks, I either create the list items in the body of the task or I create a task for each item with a context category. An example in Outlook would be to create a category called @Campling with tasks for each item on my supply list. This is a lot of overhead and list feature of Google Keep would allow me to enter the items quickly and reuse it in the future.

    Location-based reminders
    This is truly an example of technology solving a problem in my life. Since I'm not always staring at my list, Keep will remind me to pick-up something on my way home or when I'm near a store. Since I use Gmail for personal email, I started using Google Reminders (included with Google Calendar and Inbox) and quickly realized this is a feature I can't live without.

    Voice dictation using Google Now Assistant
    This is also an example of technology solving a problem. I can easily dictate a note to Google Now when I'm driving. The audio note is recorded in Keep and transcribed as text. That's really cool!

    Easily create quick notes about people I meet or places I want to try
    For every person I meet (work colleagues, networking, friends, etc.), i create a note with notes about that person that I want to remember. Some examples include friends' anniversaries, daughter in dance competition, vacations, son's graduation, etc. I set a reminder to follow up with that person in a few weeks. As an example, I'll text my colleague to ask how his daughter did at the dance competition. This use case is HUGE in the business world of building relationships and people are impressed that I remember such details. The Google Keep widgets for iOS and Android make this data entry process quick and frictionless. Entering this in TaskTask is very tedious and deters me from using it.

    My approach in Google Keep is to create labels as my context folders (@email, @next actions, @errands, etc.) along with relying on time-based and location-based reminders. During my weekly review, I would empty my list by "pinning" items (Google Keep feature) that I plan to accomplish for the following week. This feature places the pinned items on the top of my list. If I run out of things to do for that week (unlikely), I can always scroll down and tackle the unpinned items.

    I've considering using colours for categories and using Category Tabs for Google Keep Chrome plugin. This would be much closer to the GTD system I've implemented in Outlook as I can search based on the category colour. However, Google Keep doesn't natively support renaming of colours and the Category Tabs plugin is only supported in the desktop version of Chrome. As an example, if I set red colour to be phone calls, I have remember that red = phone calls when I am on mobile. I'm trying to avoid mental exercises such as these in my GTD system.

    I did a search for Google Keep on this forum and it seems that it's not widely used for GTD. I'm hoping someone can advise me, and I hope this thread will be useful for other visitors in the future. Thanks for making this awesome site!
     
  2. TesTeq

    TesTeq Registered

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    Yes, indeed. I've never seen any thread here about GTD Google Keep. If mono-platform Omnifocus is not for you there are some colorful widely-used multi-platform alternatives like Nozbe.
     
  3. kelstarrising

    kelstarrising I know some stuff about GTD

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  4. Louis

    Louis Registered

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    Thank you both for your feedback. A lot of people have recommended Omnifocus, but the fact that it doesn't have a Windows client or even a web front-end is limiting.

    I've heard of Nozbe and it seems that a lot of people like it. I'll definitely check it out as well as the Google Apps Guide and keep everyone updated.
     

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