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Submitted by cwatine on


"Total Workday Control Using Microsoft Outlook" by Michael Linenberger

We use less than 10% of Outlook fonctionnalities. I had tried to use Outlook following the GTD method and it was a failure each time.

Linenberger's book allowed me to customize and use Outlook in the right way.

My In-box is empty most of the time, I only get the right tasks at the right time, I know how to file my E-mails, I quickly can follow up my delegated tasks etc, etc.

His chapter about how to delegate projects (never never never try delegating anything bu sending "task" to people through Outlook !) and follow them up makes a lots of sense and is not very far from what I have learned through Manager Tools.

It requires no special skills (I am no computer fanatic), it is easy to understand (the reading was easy for a French guy). It just requires some time to "program" Outlook so it looks the way it should (2 hours). You also will need to sometimes to get back to the book.

In conclusion, this book will allow you to transform your Outlook into a very good tool helping (just helping) you applying GTD and some of the Manager tools principles !

A real good investement ...

mauzenne's picture
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Looks interesting ... although I think I'm a fairly effective user of Outlook (GTD plugin, plus all the things we talk about on the podcast), I'll take a look. Always looking to learn something new! :-)


cwatine's picture
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Yes, I also tried some programs like My Life Organized and I tried the Jello Dash Board.

I finally came back to a "customized" Outlook and some "tricks" to use it better.

I find it simplier and "clean".

Other good point are :
- I can show my people how to use it.
- You can implement one thing at a time !
- Only the task of the day appears on the note pad next to the calendar. It makes a big difference because your mind is not bothered with long lists like I use to have using the GTD-pluggins. It seems nothing, but to me it made a huge difference !
- There are very wise tricks on how to "code" your tasks and not mix what you should do, what you should follow-up in your team's tasks, etc

Web site :

fchalif's picture
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Cedwat and Mike,

I have recently read Total Workday Control and fully agree with Cedwat. The book emphasizes using Outlook Tasks. This helps with the decision process GTD requires when analyzing all of your inputs, i.e. the next action.
It is easy to apply the 2 minute rule and do the weekly review since the book outlines the "How To" in each case. The book shows us step by step ways to create tasks from your inbox. It also shows you how to create views that outline what is for today, and what your overall task list has (someday Maybe)
It is a very hands on book which I recommend you read interactively with your computer.
One very important point relative to Delegation. The author recognizes that you must first ask your direct first, before delegating the task using outlook. It will be more effective.


cwatine's picture
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I am happy to see it helps.

I had to add come "features" to the method : especially putting contexts (categories) to the tasks.

Why ?

Because my two task lists were way to big and because I had to many due dates to put. I now use context without a date in 70% case.
A context means "when"/"in what situation" you want to see the task. For example : O3 is a context. If I have O3 as a context, I don't need a due date, as I have O3 every week ...

Hope it helps.


fchalif's picture
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I recently found an Outlook Add In which helped me re-organize my Categories. It can be found here:

The great advantage is it facilitates the printing of categories as well as sharing your category list centrally. I have done this with my assistant and she now has a much easier time of keeping things organized and our category lists are synchronized.
This is a great advantage as Master Category Lists are by default saved on your local machine. Now you can save in a common location like your company server.

cwatine's picture
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Thank you for the tip.

I do not use categories anymore for Emails. I now use Xobni for searching my Emails and it just works like a dream.

I continue to use contexts for my tasks : @phone, @errant, @online, @O3, etc.


fchalif's picture
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Hi Cedric,

I have installed Xobni since I saw your reference to it in another thread. I am having some issues getting it to work. For example, when I start the Analytics feature, it just does nothing.
I have communicated this to them and will know more soon.

Did you have issues installing and running it initially?

How does it help you eliminate using categories?

cwatine's picture
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[quote]Did you have issues installing and running it initially?[/quote]

[quote]How does it help you eliminate using categories?[/quote]
The main purpose about categories for Emails was to file and find them. Xobni just do it better and without effort.

I still keep categories for :
- taks context
- some document I frequently need (but less and less)

dave445's picture

I use the "Take Back Your Life" process, from the book by the same name. It's a catchy name for a system similar to GTD, but designed specifically on how to work within Outlook. My organization has also had one-day workshops on this.

I've fallen off the wagon over the past few weeks, and have just pulled myself back on. I'm still a work in progress...

JorrianGelink's picture

I've purchased this from the Getting Things Done website, it's an Outlook 2007 configuration tool for GTD.

I've used it to configure my Tasks list effectively and to help organize my Calendar. I still need to configure my work e-mail around it and see how that goes.

As for Tasks and actually Getting Things Done, configuring my Tasks the way the paper suggests was worth the $15 price alone!