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.
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.
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)
First, launch the Visual Basic window by
Next add some script. Start by right clicking on
the Modules folder ->Insert -> Module
Clear out the contents of the module and then
copy/paste the script below
Public Sub CategoriesGroup()
Dim Item As Outlook.MailItem
Set Item =
Save the module and close the Visual Basic
Now customize the New Message form
First, click the "New E-Mail" Button
Next, right-click on the Ribbon Menu ->
Customize Ribbon -> Macros
right side, add a new group (custom group) and rename it to
"Categories" and select it
From the left side, under Macros, select
"Project1.CategoriesGroup" and add to the custom
"Categories" group on the right that you just created.
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
Organize, Find and Discover
Now you simply have to create a new search folder for each
of your projects.
Right-Click “Search Folders” -> New Search
Folder and choose “Categorized mail” from the “Organizing Mail” group.
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.
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?