Thursday, August 23, 2007

Managing Time and Projects with Outlook 2007

Despite using the weekly review to identify and discard projects which did not fit in with my current 90 day Goals I still have a tendency to take I more than time allows. To overcome this I have been using Outlook 2007 to help manage my time and projects in conjunction with OneNote 2007 - here I will describe my current workflow. This is an subtle adjustment to my previous workflow with Outlook & OneNote - a lot of it remains unchanged.

I contniue to collect & process my inputs in OneNote. When I identify a next action now I use the outlook flag CTRL+SHIFT+5 to flag it as an action and have it show up in my Outlook to do list. I then set a context for it using Outlook. I then can filter my contexts in Outlook as needed.
If I identify a project I again flag it using CTRL+SHIFT+5 and open it in Outlook. I have a set of colour catagories in Outlook based on my Roles & Responsibilities eg .R&R - Work & Career. For each project I decide what R&R it fits into and assign it.






I use Outlooks calendar for my hard landscape. I colour code commitments for the week using the same colour scheme as my R&R. In this example I've colour coded work commitements and R&R - Work & Career both green. It all comes togehter during my weekly review as described below:


Weekly Review Workflow:

1. Preview the weeks hard landscape:





So at present just a few commitments - mostly green i.e work.


2. I then open the To-Do bar in the calander view - and review each project.







3. I then L click and drag that project to a time slot on the calendar. This way I can assign some time to work on the project and ensure I do not overcommit & underdeliver.



When I come to work on the project I click on its appointment slot, this opens it so I can then click on the OneNote link and go straight to my notes and reference materials for it.


As the week goes by I keep a track of what I've been doing - filling in the time slots in outlook and colouring them as needed. If any new projects come up during the week I know if I have the time to do it or not, rather than just putting it on a project list and hoping to get it done.





By doing this for each project and using the colour codes I can get an overview of how my week is planned and I think more importantly if I am neglecting any roles & responsibilities I have.


19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Some excellent ideas
thanks

CraigKennedy said...

SO, as I understand this, the only next actions that appear in Outlook are stand-alone tasks. Beyond that you flag projects to appear in outlook and then assign a R&R context to them and maintain those project next actions on the appropriate page in Onenote. Is that correct?
Also, I assume those stand-alone NA's are not assigned any context??
Where do you keep Someday tasks?
Thanks!

Priscilla Palmer said...

You have been tagged for The Personal Development List. (See my site for details), I'd love for you to participate.

Rob said...

@Craig: I have only 3 contexts that I work with @Home @Work and @Out (I think contexts could be a whole new discussion itself). The vast majority of work I do is @Home - where I always have access to a computer running OneNote, so with these NAs I just use a onenote flag and manage them on the appropriate onenote page as you suggest.
For @work & @Out I will add an outlook flag to these and apply either an @work r @out catagory in outlook. This allows me to sync these tasks onto my windows mobile phone and have them with me when I need them.
Someday / may be are kept in a section of onenote.

Rob said...

@priscilla

Thanks for the tag. I'll try and track down your site via google as you've left no details. Hope to post soon

Melissa Saulog said...

Thanks for the tip Gina, in the past I would just create a calendar item for the task. This is much more efficient!

Marius said...

This is great. I posted a bit of a follow-up and an extension of this on my blog.

jonnyd said...

This was an interesting read. People are always looking for the next best task management app to come along, whether it be for PC, PDA, whatever.

I like the idea of maximizing the potential of software most people have available already, instead of the tedious process of shopping for new apps.

Rob said...

@Gina - Thanks for the link.
@mellisa - Thanks
@Marius - I've looked at your ideas on this, especially like the filtering of the task pad you have set up.
@jonnyd - I'm with you there, my basic premise is that there is not and never will be a perfect GTD system, peoples desire to tinker will always be there. I decided to stop looking, stick with what I had and get a system working for me. It may not be perfect, but the time spent doing rather than trying the latest app, makes it work.

Emad said...

Great post. I am a big fan of outlook and oneNote.

I have done something similar and posted about it here, but this gives me some more ideas. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

What are those "bubble" things on the calendar, attached to calendar items? For example, the last picture on the upper left-hand corner, there's those calendar items stringed together, how do I make those?

Rob said...

the "bubbles" are nothing special. They are just 15 minute appoinments running one after another in a 1 hour time slot, just the way Outlook 2007 lays them out

tj said...

are you still happy with this setup or have you evolved it or implemented any other programs? I'm getting ready to set something up and want to be aware of the pitfalls and sticky points or whatever before I decide which way to go.

Big Boss said...

Rob,

Thanks for this excellent post. I've started to use OneNote both on my tablet & my office desktop. As I access a shared onenote file they sync as soon as I connect to my office LAN. No problem till now. I also tag items in onenote with outlook tasks. Though these tasks appear on the other machine I get to see the message "Task not yet found in the outlook, You cannot edit tasks deleted from outlook or created by other users" there by stopping me from editing those tasks on the other machines. How do you think that I can completely keep the onenote files (inturn the outlook) synchronized.

Regards,
Chirag

Big Boss said...

Rob,

Thanks for this excellent post. I've started to use OneNote both on my tablet & my office desktop. As I access a shared onenote file they sync as soon as I connect to my office LAN. No problem till now. I also tag items in onenote with outlook tasks. Though these tasks appear on the other machine I get to see the message "Task not yet found in the outlook, You cannot edit tasks deleted from outlook or created by other users" there by stopping me from editing those tasks on the other machines. How do you think that I can completely keep the onenote files (inturn the outlook) synchronized.

Regards,
Chirag

Kevin Moore said...

Hi,

You've put together some excellent ideas, thanks for posting them.

You might be interested in our product, it is a Project Management plug-in for Microsoft Outlook.

The product combines all of your appointments, contacts, tasks, emails and files/attachments into one central location.

More information can be found here: http://www.MissingLinkProjectCenter.com

Thanks,

kevin

Appx Alarm022 said...

This post is well written.Thanks for the post.I am following your blog regularly.And it's a very good blog.Thanks a lot.Keep it up.Keep blogging.

Gina said...

Thank you for the great post. I am confused about something - you mention using a ON "flag" - which I'm sure is different than the Outlook task feature...is there a feature in ON that just "flags" the item? And what does flagging it do, essentially?

Joe said...

Interesting workflow - I use OneNote to keep track of my activities with more thorough descriptions than the high-level summary that I provide in my timesheet. It's handy when I need to do a status report, or if my supervisor asks me for more information about some work I did.

If you'd like to check out a solution that's built for teams, please stop by TrackerOffice ( http://outlook-project-management.trackeroffice.com ) for a look at our Web based soltuion - it integrates with leading email platforms including Outlook. You can synchronize Outlook tasks with it, drag-and-drop emails to create project documents and tasks, asn more. There's a free online demo too, if you'd like a hands one evaluation.

7breaths Tumblr Feed