Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Getting Things Done and Managing Email with Lookout for Outlook

GTD: The Fallow's summary

A month or so ago I posted about the Fallow's summary on GTD. (see link). Here's a revised update. (PS. Too bad Blogger doesn't support trackback links!)

Getting Things Done (
See also:

Atlantic Online | July/August 2004 | Organize Your Life! | James Fallows
David Allen's book. (This is a bit dated, he needs a new edition.)

1. If you can do it in two minutes, just do it.
2. Get everything out of your head. Appointments, tasks, notes, contacts -- get it into one place (eg. Outlook).
3. Tasks have three important relationships:
the minimal context needed for the next action (ex: anywhere, phone, desk, computer, network, office ..)
the project(s) that contains the task
date of next action
4. Tasks always have a next action. Identifying and executing 'next actions' is critical.
5. Record tasks/ideas at time they are recognized.
6. Weekly review of about one hour. (This takes me at least 2 hours but I'm trying to speed my review.)
7. Tasks don't have priorities. (Personally I use priorities on tasks but Allen assumes if a task is scheduled then it should be done. I see his point.)

How I handle email (using Lookout)

(Note this works for any email solution that supports full text indexing. I think it would work for OS X Mail in Panther, it will definitely work in Tiger.

Lookout for Outlook:

1. Install Lookout. Note this is an early product and has some rough edges. I force a complete index rebuild every night. Still, value is enormous. It has not affected my system stability.

2. Read message. Follow GTD protocol as above (see book too). Then either:
- delete
- create task and save
- save

3. If a task is needed, I create a task by dragging the message to the Outlook task icon. Outlook creates a task that incorporates the message content (text only).

4. If the message is to be saved I
- edit the subject line to be more descriptive of the message
- rarely I edit the message text or subject line and add terms I'd use for a Lookout search.
- drop the message in my "Save" folder (that's it). I don't use subfolders anymore and don't spend time filing anything.

Update 3/2/05: This related article talks about environmentally-induced ADD.

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