Bought the OneNote GTD Guide, Have a few questions about Outlook

Discussion in 'PUBLIC: Discuss Tools & Software for GTD' started by Stephen Lange, Oct 23, 2018.

  1. Stephen Lange

    Stephen Lange Registered

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    Hey All,

    I recently bought the $10 OneNote guide here and had some questions that my searching didn't seem to resolve. These question are specifically surrounding onenote and outlook.

    In outlook I have setup the @ACTION SUPPORT and @WAITING FOR SUPPORT FOLDERS and am active putting items in these folders.

    Regarding next steps, from the guide it seems that they suggest creating all day meetings for next step items on the outlook calendar and then adding the one note page copy link.

    Is the idea to add a to do item in one note under the project/area in question, and then copy the link, add a all day meeting and then paste the link into it. What if I don't do the item for the day I schedule it in outlook? Is the idea to just move items not completed forward to the next day in outlook?

    Where do outlook tasks come into play. Should they?

    I appreciate any feedback.
     
  2. AFG

    AFG Registered

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    WRT using OneNote to manage Outlook tasks, and vice versa:
    • I have asked about it on forums such as this one
    • I have experimented with it
    Overall, consensus is that it is just too painful to use. If you make a change to the status of an Outlook Task it does not automatically get reflected to the OneNote stuff it is related to, and vice versa. You have to manually sync, in a multistep process.

    Heck, IIRC the GTD Implementation Guide for OneNote says as much - you can try to use the limited OneNote/Outook task integration, but you're asking for hassles.
     
  3. John Ismyname

    John Ismyname Registered

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    .

    AFG, is correct. The amount of effort required to sync-up Outlook and OneNote is "painful" and the benefit is questionable.

    As a disclaimer, I have neither read the GTD Outlook nor the OneNote guide. I do GTD on Outlook "my way" to take advantage of Outlook's full features.

    "Where do outlook tasks come into play. Should they?"
    Two aspects of David Allen's genius are
    1. GTD relies more on the context @ lists and the calendar that the to-do list (more on this later) and
    2. GTD is platform independent. This is my explanation of why the official GTD user guide does not leverage specific task features.

    Also, kelstarrising, forum moderator and company representative, has stated that they want to keep their guides simple - a good idea!

    " I have setup the @ACTION SUPPORT and @WAITING FOR SUPPORT FOLDERS and am active putting items in these folders."
    Filing into folders is so last century! Use Outlooks categorize function for this. You can then create one of many views that sorts your tasks in Outlook by your @'s in the Outlook categories.

    "they suggest creating all day meetings for next step items on the outlook calendar"
    With Outlook, you can do any of the following;
    1. Create an Outlook-task with a start date on the calendar date in question. The beauty of this is that you can filter this task out of view until this date in the future becomes today.
    2. Create an Outlook-Calendar ALL DAY appointment. You can also show the time for this as "free"
    3. Create an Outlook-Calendar SPECIFIC TIME appointment. You can add an alarm to remind you. You can also show the time for this as "free"

    Any or all of these will work. It depends on the nature and context of what you want to get done.

    My rule-of-thumb is that if a task is going to take me more than two hours, I should put in my Outlook-calendar as it will probably require some scheduling. If a deadline is looming, then I better schedule a date & time for a task that is due soon. If the task is something really important, you might want to use all three.

    "What if I don't do the item for the day I schedule it in outlook? Is the idea to just move items not completed forward to the next day in outlook?"
    IMHO, yes....sort of. With GTD, one must do a daily revue and move uncompleted "things" to a date in the future. With Outlook-tasks, you can set up a view to do this automatically! This fits perfectly into the GTD concept of doing things in the right context. When the due date for such an Outlook-task becomes overdue, the task automatically turns red. This is my signal to move it from an Outlook-Task to an Outlook-Calendar item.

    In this sense, it is essential to use GTD with Outlook tasks. Otherwise, one can end up with this big task list that automatically carries over from one day to the next with no "physiological friction"; it is really easy to get a big list of tasks that you intend to do tomorrow...but you don;t get around to doing.
     
  4. Stephen Lange

    Stephen Lange Registered

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    I guess what I struggle with the most is finding the best balance for Outlook and OneNote. My Outlook is a bear. I like the zero inbox idea as it does help me to stay focused and not miss things. I guess I would be most interested in seeing what your combined outlook and one note workflow looks like.

    It is better to just treat OneNote as a data archive and not try to use it for task scheduling? It seems like short term items might just be better served as outlook tasks and long term tasks as scheduled calendar items. I'm particularily interested in how you use category views in outlook. Send me what you have to read to my email I sent you.
     
  5. John Ismyname

    John Ismyname Registered

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    You can use an adjustable wrench as a hammer. However, if you have a hammer in your tool box, what's the point? OneNote is a note taking and holding tool -that's what it was designed for. Outlook is a very powerful calendar-scheduling, task-management, and (contact) list-management tool by function and design. Outlook can basically do the 'grunt work' that holds your GTD platform together!

    They both have their uses. The danger with a tasks list is the lack of "reality check" as to how long the list will take to execute and exactly when you are going to do it. Ithink this is why GTD is more about the calendar that the task list. [/QUOTE]
    The brilliance of GTD is segregating to-dos by @ context. I would argue that in Outlook, it makes more sense to have one main task list with (almost) everything on it and then switch Outlook views "on the fly" to see this list though the best perspective in the moment.

    I have been writing a web page on this with free content so as not to violate this forum's advertising policy.
     
  6. AFG

    AFG Registered

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    For the last year I have been trying to use OneNote as my main GTD tool, with OneNote and Gmail as email data archives and inboxes.

    Mainly, because as mentioned I use Outlook for work and Gmail for personal. But also because I am addicted to hypertext links - IMHO every task should have clickable links to its supporting info, and vice versa. And AFAIK links between Outlook and OneNote do not work so well.

    I wish that OneNote and Outlook tasks integrated well. They do not.

    However:

    1) Out of frustration I recently started reading my Gmail via IMAP inOutlook - and for the first time in months, I reached Gmail Inbox Zero painlessly.

    1a) I have seen this before with "old-style" mailreaders - I sometimes switch to Thunderbird to empty my Gmail Inbox. The Gmail (and Google Inbox) UI can be quite inefficient. It's almost as if Google wants you to waste time processing email so that you will click on ads. Or just that Google's SEARCH oriented Gmail paradigm does not always beat Outlook and Thunderbird's SORT oriented email paradigm.

    1b) It's possible that the increased efficiency is due to less context switching - to applying all of my "email energy" to knowing the best way to do things in a single mail reader.

    2) This might suggest switching to Outlook for tasks as well as email (both work and personal).

    2a) However, AFAIK Outlook cannot save tasks to an IMAP server.

    2b) This might suggesting forwarding all of my Gmail to an MS Outlook personal account, if that also gets me Outlook tasks for personal GTD.

    So, as you can see, I am considering switching to a flow where Outlook tasks are my main GTD tool, with OneNote as reference and project support. But, like the OP, I welcome comments from people already doing this.

    --

    Related:

    I am using desktop OneNote 2016 [originally I mis-said "Outlook"]. But this version is now deprecated in favor of the Win 10 tablet version. I know the latter lacks many features. Q: how is the Win 10 tablet version wrt task related features?

    Also, OneNote works well enough on my iPhone. Not as much tag support as I would like, but at least To Do lists work. But the Outlook iPhone app seems to lack task related features (and lots of other stuff). Q: does anyone who uses OneNote Tasks for GTD use a smart phone, specifically iPhone?

    --

    I could try to describe my "OneNote primary / Outlook in supporting role" flow, but ... it is not stable. OneNote’s features for managing To-Do list items fall short, and I have to do far too much editing and crosslinking by hand.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2018
  7. John Ismyname

    John Ismyname Registered

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    AFAIK, in Outlook, there isn't a comprehensive way to do this. I wrote a VBSscript to create a hyperlink to outgoing mail as it's sent.
    Agreed. Consider what it is you want to integrate and if there is away to avoid working with two aps. For example, I tried to link OneNote to Outlook-appointments to link my notes from meetings. The easiest way to do this is just to create a duplicate meeting in Outlook, (chnage it to HTML format if you like) and put your notes in the duplicate (so meetings attendees can't see you private notes.)

    This same method can ne used with Tasks in Outlook.

    You can also add attachments to tasks, contacts, and appointments in Outlook/

    You can use Gmail on their web interface AND on Outlook (or another IMAP client.) IMHO it is a good idea to use Outlook-Tasks for personal and work tasks. You can always segregate them by Outlook directories as Outlook-Task's To-Do list is a unified view of all your Task directories. You are correct that you cannot store Outlook tasks on an IMAP server. I just store them on my local computer.




    I was not aware of a Tablet specific version of Outlook 2016. Do you mean Outlook mail for Windows 10? I put Outlook on a NS-Surface 3 (no-pro) which functioned fine but the display screen was too small.
    [/QUOTE]
    I have the same complaint for Outlook for Andorid. There are third party aps that run Outlook tasks on an Android phone but they turn this powerful module into a basic to-do list. I get better results by printing my Outlook task list for the day on paper. GTD is heavily dependent on the Calendar and the @ lists, which are simple, flat files; they synchronize well with a smartphone.
     
  8. AFG

    AFG Registered

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    My bad - I said Outlook rather than OneNote. Fixing in my original, as well as here.
     
  9. AFG

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    I have been wondering about this. How is it working? What do you do with the link?

    For that matter - exactly what is the link to? A clickable link that opens a message on an Exchange server? An OWA link?

    My thoughts have mostly gone the other way - automatically sending my outgoing mail, and incoming email I select, to OneNote, so that I can annotate, link, etc. Rather than manually copy.

    As I half-way step, I have started "collecting" stuff from my Sent Mail as part of my regular reviews.

    --

    In the good old days my companies archived many of our internal email lists, sometimes to intranet web accessible forums so that links could be made from our wikis. This is supposedly being done for many of our Outlook/Exchange distribution lists, but nobody knows how to find the shared folders that hold that archives.
     
  10. AFG

    AFG Registered

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    You've got me excited.

    Googling finds stuff like https://stackoverflow.com/questions/8667827/creating-link-to-outlook-messages

    But... apparently the Outlook: scheme is not registered by default with newer versions of Outlook - or with non-Outlook apps.

    I suspect there are security risks here.
     
  11. John Ismyname

    John Ismyname Registered

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    WARNING TECHNICAL GEEK TALK STARTS
    My premise was that the VB script would copy the EntryID from the sent message, copy the message body, create a new Outlook-Task (which is HTML text by default), paste the outgoing message as well as a HTML link to this new Task. The problem is that Outlook appointments are text by default and I can't get VB script to switch to HTML so that the HTML link will work.

    While this is for OUTGOING email, I don't see a way to create such HTML links with INCOMING email. As one is processing this with the GTD methodology, one may want to move email from the inbox to a message-received box AND make this a task or appointment. There is no way to create a hyperlink for this. The official GTD methodology seems to use separate mailboxes for this.
     
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  12. John Ismyname

    John Ismyname Registered

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    I agree that there are version specific issues and security is part of the rationale. In a better world, we'd be able to create hyperlinks between Outlook items on the fly. The labour involved is create hyperlinks makes this practice impractical.
     

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