What do you do to make Outlook bearablea

Discussion in 'PUBLIC: Discuss Tools & Software for GTD' started by apastuszak, Jul 1, 2015.

  1. apastuszak

    apastuszak Registered

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    I am forced to use Outlook at work, and can't easily access it when I am not in the office without going through the hassle of firing up my work laptop and making a VPN connection.

    As much as I despise it, I'm forced to use Outlook.

    Other than buying some expensive add-in, what are people using to help make Outlook more bearable?

    I managed to upgrade to Outlook 2013, so any tips for that version would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. ArcCaster

    ArcCaster Registered

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    I used Outlook for many years before switching to gmail when I switched companies. Rather than making a broad statement such as "I like Outlook very much", I thought I would list my top ten Outlook speed keys. Trouble is, my fingers remember them, but my mind doesn't. (ctrl d and ctrl shift v are places my fingers still naturally go) And I no longer have Outlook in front of me. So, I googled 'outlook speed keys', and got lists of dozens of things I think are totally unimportant, in addition to not finding the tasks I did all the time.

    I think it might be interesting if you would list the top ten (yes, please limit it to ten) speed keys for your tool of choice, as well as what they do. That would give us a sense of where you spend your time, and we might be able to give Outlook equivalents.

    Interestingly, it might also evolve into an interesting discussion of what is important in optimizing the use of such a tool.

    Rob

    ps -- in addition to speed keys, I love the ability to easily sort by sender, by topic, and by date received. Good way to weed out junk, single out high priority stuff, and follow a thread.
     
  3. kelstarrising

    kelstarrising I know some stuff about GTD

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  4. apastuszak

    apastuszak Registered

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    I bought the GTD setup guide for Outlook 2010, and used it to setup Outlook, and didn't like the end result.

    Unless 2013 is significantly different, I think I'll hold off.
     
  5. apastuszak

    apastuszak Registered

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    I found Outlook's task list to be completely useless. I want to be able to create a list of tasks for a project and give them an order, so I know what order I need to do things. I can't link a task to an email. I can convert one to the other, but there is no link maintained.

    I hate the way Outlook does Tasks and Todos. This messes with my head and makes it hard for me to sort things.

    I don't like task priorities. There should be an option to turn it off, or have a "none" option.

    I'll think up a dozen more annoyances that I'll probably post later.

    I installed the Netcentrics plugin and tried it out. I liked it and found it useful, but my work would not pay for it, so I had to remove it. It made permanent changes to my Outlook tasks and left a bunch of views behind. So, at this point, I am not even sure what is default Outlook and what is Netcentrics cruft left behind that I can't get rid of.
     
  6. bcmyers2112

    bcmyers2112 Registered

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    Dependent actions (i.e. ones you can't do until you do something else first) are best kept in project support, not your next actions lists. A flat outline in is sufficient in most cases and you could keep that in the notes field of an Outlook task item.

    Are you sure you really need that functionality? When I used Outlook as my primary GTD list manager and received an actionable email I manually a task item and assigned it to a context (an Outlook category I had created) and moved the email to a folder labeled "@Action Support." I never had trouble finding actionable emails if/when I needed them. I'd suggest trying something like this. You may be surprised to find that you don't need the linkages.

    Also I am not sure why you think you are "stuck" with Outlook. Unless your employer requires you to use Outlook Tasks, there are a lot of task managers out there you can try, some of which have the sorts of features you're looking for (like task sorting).

    This is a little old but I used it as recently as 2012 for a pre-2013 version of Outlook (can't remember which one). It's a little work but it gets Outlook pretty close to back to normal.
    http://gettingthingsdone.com/forum/f...d-in-uninstall
     
  7. apastuszak

    apastuszak Registered

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    My employer requires that I not install any software that isn't approved, packaged and delivered, as most IT departments these days require. And online solutions are forbidden, because storing sensitive company data on third party servers can get you fired.
     
  8. bcmyers2112

    bcmyers2112 Registered

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    In that case your choices are Outlook Tasks or a paper system. Either can work. I understand your desire features like linking next actions to emails; I used to think I needed those things too. But I wouldn't call Outlook "useless" without them. In fact over time I realized I didn't need those things at all. Outlook can work just fine, and I found the guidance in the GTD set-up guides for Outlook to be very helpful.
     
  9. JerryC

    JerryC Registered

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    I suspect the reason so many people are frustrated in implementing GTD with MS Outlook, is because I perceive Outlook was intentionally designed not to be used as a Project Management solution. Had Microsoft included the ability to create "Sub-Tasks" within Outlook's Tasks, then there would be no need for Microsoft Project, a $550.00 software solution.

    I believe if someone were to develop an Outlook Add-in "Sub-Tasks" solution, hack, or workaround, would make GTD easier to implement.

    The second most frustrating issue from my perspective the inability to adequately synch Outlook with mobile devices.

    I have yet to come across an adequate solution for either of the above two issues. All the solutions I have come across are based on; incomplete hacks, laborious, repetitive, tedious steps and reoccurring fee(s).

    If anyone knows different, please share it with me.
     
  10. JerryC

    JerryC Registered

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    Why did you not like the end result?
     
  11. ArcCaster

    ArcCaster Registered

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    Outlook tasks have a 'notes' section. For those projects that I wanted to keep a list of tasks (next actions), I would put them in the notes section of the project. Then, as I completed next actions, I could draw from the notes for what is next.
     
  12. Stew

    Stew Registered

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    I agree with you completely, JerryC. Given the maturity of both Outlook and mobile platforms, I don't know why reliable solutions are still not available.

    I can't speak for Android or Windows Mobile because I am on iOS. I use an iOS program called TaskTask to sync my Outlook tasks to my iPhone. It does the job well enough, but will occasionally miss items while syncing so I don't fully trust it. The native Exchange support in iOS works great for syncing calendar, email, contacts, and notes. I still rely on paper printouts to ensure my task list is correct while I'm away from my computer.
     
  13. Stew

    Stew Registered

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    One solution I've used in the past is to create a separate task folder for each project. Task items can be dragged and dropped into the desired order. The To Do List view can show all tasks, regardless of where they are stored. Alternatively, the To Do sidebar can be customized to filter out certain tasks based on folder or other criteria.

    Personally, I found simply storing future actions in a text field to be easier. The exception to this is when I worked in a team environment and we shared tasks with each other. Outlook would track delegated tasks and allow the user to update them as the work progressed.
     
  14. sandymoore64

    sandymoore64 Registered

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    Akruto syncs outlook to Android MS Tasks & Notes... use it everyday
     
  15. sandymoore64

    sandymoore64 Registered

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    also MS Exchange syncs work outlook to MS Tasks & Notes

    (running on treadmill......)
     
  16. apastuszak

    apastuszak Registered

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    I prefer to have my tasks tagged with a context, a status (Next Action, Waiting For, etc) and a project name. This is not a fault of the setup guide. It's a limitation of Outlook really. But I'd use categories for contexts, status and project names.
     
  17. Christopher13

    Christopher13 Registered

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    I find one can get wrapped around an axle really quick when trying to link emails to lists. Keep the emails as reference, in a searchable location. Lists can be as simple as outlook notes, a separate note for each context. That worked well for me for a long time, before I moved to Onenote.

    Sent from my Nexus 5 using Tapatalk
     
  18. SiobhanBR

    SiobhanBR Registered

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    I use Microsoft Tasks at work and it is just fine. I agree with not bothering linking emails to tasks - I just put the date of the original email in the task title and move the email to !Action_Support ONLY if I will need that original email when I do the task. As an aside, I learned from someone here how to change the numbers that show up beside the folder name and I have set !Action_Support and !Waiting_For to show the total number of emails rather than total number unread (since there are never any unread emails in those folders).

    I dislike the To-Do List so I don't use it: because you can't change it from defaulting to the To-Do list, I just modified the view so it is the same as the Tasks list. :) I love that in outlook you can add more than one category to a task - that adds a lot of flexibility for me.

    Tasks used to sync great with my old blackberry, but something has changed and it no longer syncs. That is indeed a problem that I'm still looking for a solution for. But since I have a separate personal system (on my iPad in Evernote) I've just learned to deal with it.
     
  19. Suelin23

    Suelin23 Registered

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    I'm in Outlook 2010 but Quicksteps are making it much easier, especially Create a task with text of a message, or Create a task with attachment.
    upload_2017-6-9_12-24-30.png
     

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