Outlook 2010 - tasks vs flagged emails

Discussion in 'PUBLIC: Discuss Tools & Software for GTD' started by Suelin23, Jun 21, 2017.

  1. Suelin23

    Suelin23 Registered

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    Hi,
    I've recently changed over to using Outlook 2010 for managing my task lists, and just noticed that the GTD guide recommends only using tasks, not flagged emails for NAs, although Outlook can do both and there are other setups on the internet that use both.

    Any thoughts on reasons why and which is better?

    One pro for me is that Outlook tasks sync to my phone much better and I can see them in the same app I use for my home tasks, but flagged emails don't come across.
    However it's faster to just flag an email and assign a category and I can also do this from my iPhone, whereas to setup tasks with the email in it I need to be on the laptop.
    Would be interested to hear what works for others.
     
  2. Gardener

    Gardener Registered

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    I dislike using emails for tasks because an email is not a nice one-to-one clear communication of a task. One email may include several tasks. Figuring out the task represented by the email might involve reading a couple of paragraphs, and if the email list is your task list, you might do that dozens of times before the task is done.

    If for some reason I did want to use emails for tasks, for some technical/software reason, I would forward them to myself with a subject line that was a nice clean description of a single task, plus a prefix that makes it easy to distinguish task emails from regular emails.

    For example, if Jane sent me an email about several issues that she had with an application for which I was doing support, I would convert that email into as many tasks as it represented. Her one email:

    Subject: Problems with new version--can you call?

    might become three emails:

    Subject:TASK-- Investigate crashing of Widget Annual Summary report
    Subject:TASK-- Research interface issues with Widgetbase password change
    Subject:TASK-- Export Q1 Widget data for Jane


    Each email would have the content of the original email, because I would likely be too lazy to edit it, but the tidy subject lines would save me from having to actually read them until I decided to actually work the tasks.
     
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  3. Oogiem

    Oogiem Registered

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    I don't use Outlook but I also don't like to mix e-mail and next actions. What i do is save a link to the e-mail in my task manager.
    The reasons are basically the same as Gardener, em-mail often contain several tasks, maybe even across project boundaries and are rarely concise and complete descriptions of the real next action.
     
  4. John Ismyname

    John Ismyname Registered

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    I don't fully understand flagging email in Outlook when there is a task module right in Outlook. In my IMAP and Gmail accounts. I have an option to turn the flag on or off - that;s it. In my Office365 account, one has flexibility in setting the follow-up day. Even if the GTD process determined only one next action for an email, it makes sense to put that email into a task. This Outlook task can be fully compliant with GTD - you can assign a title to the task with what needs to be done, the GTD context, a start date, finish date, delegate the task to and track the task in Outlook.
     
  5. kelstarrising

    kelstarrising I know some stuff about GTD

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    Hi @Suelin23. In one sense, flagging is the same as moving an email into an @Action folder. Sure it makes some progress on it by answering, "Is it actionable, yes or no?" But unfortunately, like the @Action folder, for most people it becomes an amorphous blob of unclarified stuff. Flagging doesn't tell you what to do--it just tells you it's actionable. For that reason, we've continued to recommend the feature of turning emails into Tasks, which forces the clarifying process further into, "What's the next action?"

    We have thought at times of talking about ALL of the options for using Outlook in the Guides, but then we risk overwhelming people with too many options.

    Hope that helps!
     
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  6. AnneMKE

    AnneMKE Registered

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    Just to add to this -- this advice is also the key to using any other tool (Todoist, Omnifocus, etc) for GTD when your E-mail is coming into Outlook. It's really easy to separate actionable from non-actionable E-mails in Outlook, either by flagging them or Quick-Stepping them into a folder. Then, as Kelly says here, you can turn them into next-action tasks -- perhaps in Outlook, but also in any other tool.
     
  7. dbvirago

    dbvirago Registered

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    Like Suelin23 said, when I was using Outlook, I used the flagged email as another inbox. Slightly quicker and easier than using the task module. I used it mostly when I wanted to get back to something, but it wasn't a high enough priority to fill out a task form. Reviewing flagged emails became part of my daily and weekly review.
     
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