Managing projects within Outlook 2010

by Aref Mon, June 20 2011 20:32

In my previous post, I talked about how I have used Outlook 2010 as a great tool for implementing the Getting Things Done strategy. In this post I look at how you can manage your projects as you are getting things done.

Projects

We all have multiple concerns in our lives. Personal concerns such as home improvement, health, etc.; work related concerns such as the individual projects that you may be working on at work. In order to quickly view all assets (incoming mail, outgoing mail, calendar appoinments, tasks) neatly organized by each project, I use the dual power of Outlook categories and Search Folders.

Categorize

First, I create a category for each project or concern that I wish to track using the naming pattern “.Project – Project Name”. If you wish to sub-categorize then use multiple categories, for instance for (main category) Personal à(sub category) Home Improvement, I create 2 categories: “.Project – Personal” and “.Project – Home Improvements” and use them in conjunction.

Now make sure that you categorize every message you receive (which you will be if you are following my previous blog), every appointment that you create or receive, every task that you create. The only caveat is when you try to categorize outgoing messages. Yes, this can be done by clicking on “new message” and expanding the Tags group but who wants to click so many clicks? Here is a way to add a Categories group to your New Message form.

Do a bit of scripting (really very easy if you follow the steps)

1.       First, launch the Visual Basic window by pressing Alt+F11

2.       Next add some script. Start by right clicking on the Modules folder ->Insert -> Module

3.       Clear out the contents of the module and then copy/paste the script below

Public Sub CategoriesGroup()

  Dim Item As Outlook.MailItem

  Set Item = Application.ActiveInspector.CurrentItem

  Item.ShowCategoriesDialog

End Sub

4.       Save the module and close the Visual Basic window.

Now customize the New Message form

1.       First, click the "New E-Mail" Button

2.       Next, right-click on the Ribbon Menu -> Customize Ribbon -> Macros

3.       On  the right side, add a new group (custom group) and rename it to "Categories" and select it

4.       From the left side, under Macros, select "Project1.CategoriesGroup" and add to the custom "Categories" group on the right that you just created.

5.       Rename the macro to "Add Categories" and change its icon.

Now test this setup by clicking on the “New E-Mail” button and you will notice that your “Add Categories” button is now available on the Ribbon.

Organize, Find and Discover

Now you simply have to create a new search folder for each of your projects.

1.       Right-Click “Search Folders” -> New Search Folder and choose “Categorized mail” from the “Organizing Mail” group.

2.       Click the “Choose” button below and choose the project you wish to create a search folder for. Make sure that “Search Mail In” points to the top-most parent folder of your mailbox.

3.       You can now drag this newly created search folder to your “Favourites” section of the Outlook left navigation bar. Clicking on this will now give you all assets belonging to that project.

Isn’t it nice to see incoming messages and your replies to them as a conversation all in one place?

Enjoy!

-          Aref

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Lifestyle | Technology | Outlook