so on my quest to be personally more productive i have realized that the reason the gtd system (created by david allen) is meant to centralize a persons life via one in-box. well for me an inbox literally means my email. if something is not emailed to me it does not exist (i am still trying to figure out a way to make text meaningful to me in this respect, but that is elusive as well). the problem for me is that i have four separate email accounts that i do not like/want to mix. one for work, one for consulting, one for personal stuff, and one i use to sign-up for all of my accounts. so having one inbox for my life is out of the question for now – and i like it that way.
so i decided to implement a gtd style system at work to help me be better at what i am doing and keep myself organized. first i am bound to outlook, and that is not a bad thing in my book, and second this is only for my main job. at first, i used folders to collect everything and had a folder for each area of the company i dealt with and responsibilities, etc. this failed when an email contains information about two different things.
so i decided to create an archive folder, a to be deleted folder (i want to review emails twice before they are deleted), a next actions folder, a follow-up folder, a someday folder and a waiting folder; i also created a projects folder with sub-folders for each project (these are temporary homes for emails within active projects and will be archived into the general archive when the project is closed).
next i created categories for areas of the company (gtd would call these contexts) prefixed with “@”, contexts (a layer of classification based on job responsibilities – such as marketing and sales) prefixed with “_”, actions (they type of action i need to take to close the loop – if any) prefixed with “#”, and indicators (tags that will quickly remind me of the disposition of the email – i.e. !reference if it is just an fyi or !won if it is an order) prefixed with a “!”. i would then create a custom tag for each project which will have no prefix and be used once the project is completed.
so to make things easier on me, i decided to figure out a way to create toolbar buttons that would toggle a specific category. i checked forums and tried out add-ons and eventually posted my issue to twitter. within a day, an outlook champ with the twitter name techniclee was interacting with me and even posted a solution to his blog. while his solution worked well, it did not meet my needs fully. i wanted control over each category location in my toolbar and i was not going to be adding or taking away categories.
so i learned his code and replicated the button control bit for each of my 25 categories. i then used a third party category manager demo to help me create my nice category buttons (color coded of course) and created a button for each area, context, action, and indicator grouped in separate toolbars (that is not necessary, but i am anal about order).
i then looked for a code to create a macro that would send emails directly to the archive folder and lifehacker.com came to the rescue. i even hacked that code to replace the delete button with a button that sends deleted emails to the to be deleted folder.
all in all it is a good solution and the use of categories will help me create custom searches for everything that i need instead of having to remember what folder i put it in.