Analog Work Flow

The Toshiba E-830 froze again today and now I am more determined than ever to get back to a sane productivity system. GTD works for me but frankly I find myself working in a 'rote' manner with a lack of idea capture and 'churning.' I have a classic system that currently is a hybrid with filofax and diy inserts. My key need is very pragmatic. I work in an email world like every one else and use Outlook. I drag emails to create tasks and calendar items to retain the information and any attachments in one place. I have folders for each key project, client or relationship in my Outlook folders. How do I integrate a paper system in this? I work outside the office at times and hence my use of a pda--do you folks that use a paper system print out emails? Do you create tasks/projects in your planner as well as in Outlook (or other pim)? If you wish to remind yourself of something (such as using an all day appt in Outlook) do you enter it in your planner as well as Outlook? What is the trusted system? Any ideas would be a great help.

Thanks, Brian

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Analog & Paper

Brian, This has always been a difficult process - merging computer with paper systems. I have tried many different things to make everything work and play together and I think I have finally figured out a good system (at least for me!). Here is what I do:

In a small 3 ring binder (5X8 size paper), I print the monthly calendar template for each month (6 mos at a time or so). Then in the back of the binder I write each letter of the alphabet on a separate piece of 5X8. (you can file each paper behind your address book tabs). Now, I list all to-do items by the alphabet. If John Smith calls in, I immediately go to my "S" page and see if I have anything outstanding for John Smith. If I want to check on a project, let's say Holiday Gifts for clients, I go to the "H" page and see what I need to do or where I am at. Some projects have a separate page under their letter as they require more time and room (a good place for the "project page template". If I have something that needs to be done on a specific day, I simply write the last name of the person or the subject heading in my monthly calendar. Then when that day comes, I see SMITH and I go to my "S" page again.
Now, the only time I add something to my Outlook calendar is for specific appointments. Meeting with John Smith, Dentist appt, etc. I do not list my to-do items there nor do I list my reminders. I simply use it as an appointment calendar. My main reason for this is because I need to write things out and I need to see the whole month at a time (which is why PDA's fail me).
I do not know if this has helped - let me know if any futher explanation is needed...
Best of luck!

Alphabet system continued

I just thought of one other way to use my alphabet system. If you have emails you want to track, you could print them as well and file under the person's last name. Put a quick note in your calendar when you want to follow up on the email.

Total Workday Control

There is a lot of GTD stuff around the internet, but I haven't seen a lot on this book. I bought it at the same time that I did GTD, and read this one first. It's by Michael Linenberger, and shows you how to better use Outlook for the task and email functions. I found it to be an amazing tool.

With this, I've gone away from an electronic planner. I use TWC and GTD things together. I print my schedule from outlook, put it in a binder (i use 8.5x11 since I don't really need a compact size) and the most important page (and the first) in my binder is my task list with is broken into 3 sections: 1) Calls (to make), 2) At computer (emails, letters, websites, etc. to do when i'm at my pc) and 3) Other/Errands (which are more personal/large projects)

As tasks or emails come up during the day when I'm at my PC, I just put them into Outlook directly. But I use this page when I'm at home, generally at night just watching tv, or if I'm on the road. Then when I'm in front of my PC I'll dump the tasks into Outlook.

So far, I've found this to be the best way to go "wireless"...


Analog Work Flow

Thanks Shan and Mad Izzy---great stuff and very useful!

Time Design article on blending Outlook and paper planners

Here's a link to a page at Time Design on blending technology and paper. It has a nice discussion. Not the final answer but it has some good points.


Scroll down to see the article

What would you do

..if your outlook was unavailable for a week?

At my company this has happened on a couple of occasions in the last year. This sort of changes how you look at paper.

I write down every one of my meetings in my paper planner, along with the conference call information, etc., just in case I can't get to my email that day. I write it because I generally don't need a lot of details about each meeting. Printing the meeting notice to keep a copy is overkill for most of the stuff I conduct or attend. But I just built myself a spiffy meeting form for those times when I need more detail.

I have a few key contacts I keep listed in my paper planner--my offline address book for Outlook is good enough for most things, or the signatures on past emails from folks. I also list the key web addresses and enough information to get me logged in, and the Outlook Web Access page for my company in case email is up but my VPN is down.

I use paper for taking notes during meetings and to organize my thoughts about my to-do list for the day.. But online I keep a master list of the projects and major tasks I'm responsible for--that's in my task list. Might make an analog of that too, but I'm not there yet. I use follow-up flags to remind myself to deal with particular topics related to emails I've received.

Part of my job is collecting opinions from lots of folks on various topics, and so I use paper to tally the answers when I ask a question. I keep a temp folder in outlook for the answers themselves, but the paper is how I tally them up.

I have a PDA, but I don't like it for work stuff. The screen is too small, it's too slow to write on.. Basically it's an expensive game toy, library, and alarm clock for me now. I make my hair and doctor appointments on it, then transfer them to paper when I get home. I don't synch it with work stuff at all. I tried doing shopping lists on the thing too, which is OK using HandyShopper, but paper is just easier to read and handle, and you don't have to have any batteries.