Blogger: Peter O'Kelly
So... I finally got around to finishing Getting Things Done, after having it on my expansive unread-book shelf for ~6 months (what's the emoticon for self-deprecating irony?...). I wish I'd thought to explore the Wikipedia entry on GTD before reading the book, as that would have saved me some time; I still think the book is a worthwhile read, however. Wikipedia also has an entry on GTD software -- an impressive list; clearly the GTD approach has resonated with lots of readers (and software developers).
I'll have more perspectives to share on the GTD themes in future posts, but for now I wanted to share a quick note about Microsoft Outlook in this context. GTD author David Allen notes, on p. 153 (of the paperback version of the book), that:
"Some applications (such as Lotus Notes) allow you to file a copy of an e-mail into one of your folders as you send it (with a 'Send and File' button). Others (e.g., Outlook) will simultaneously save only into your universal 'Sent Mail' folder. In the latter case, what seems to work best for many is to copy ('cc' or 'bcc') themselves when they delegate via e-mail, and then to pull that copy into their '@WAITING FOR' folder. (It's relatively easy to program Outlook to automatically send any e-mail that you 'cc' to yourself in a designated folder, which would replicate the process just described.)"
Here's my information worker time & attention entropy reduction tip for the day: Allen is wrong -- Outlook does support send-and-share, but it's a multi-step action in Outlook, rather than the single-step action in Notes. How it works in Outlook 2007 (it also works in earlier Outlook releases, but with a few more mouse clicks):
When creating a new message, click the Options tab in the Outlook Ribbon; then click Save Sent Item
(Click on the thumbnail to see the image in a larger, pop-up window)
Pretty handy -- Outlook uses a most-recently-used folder list, although it's not ideal, since using subfolders with the same name results in annoyances such as "Misc" and "2007" showing up twice in this example.
Clicking "Other Folder..." presents the following dialog:
Also useful, but it'd be a lot more useful if Outlook's designers made it a re-sizable dialog.
(BTW this feature was in Outlook 2003 in a clunkier user experience, and with a really dumb user experience trick: selecting a folder and specifying that the message should be saved are distinct actions in Outlook 2003, so if you select a folder but don't hit the "Save..." checkbox control [and you've defaulted to not saving messages, which I recommend, assuming you don't want to use your Exchange disk space quota with an overflowing Sent folder of stuff you'll probably never look at again], you've wasted several mouse clicks and failed to save a copy of the message.)
If you're an e-mail-retentive type, and expect to do this a lot in Outlook 2007, you can also create a Quick Access Toolbar shortcut by right-clicking on the "Save Sent Item" button:
Thereafter, the send-and-save option is a single click away, as in this example:
I still like the Notes user experience model better in this context, but at least Outlook users don't have to do the silly cc/bcc-yourself-and-refile-later routine that David Allen suggests.
And now, if you'll excuse me, I have other things I need to get done :)