It has been a while since my last post – we’ve shipped version 2.0 of our product and with ever-increasing momentum, Outlook becomes increasingly difficult to manage due to sheer volume. I have never been particularly fond of Outlook, it leaves a lot of loose ends without a cohesive way to manage it.
While I’ve read the book “Getting Things Done” by David Allen, I agree with his strategy of building what he terms a trusted system where every outstanding action is captured so you don’t waste cycles trying to juggle commitments in memory. Part of this strategy is triaging every incoming message (phone/email/etc) until your ‘inbox’ is completely empty and filed away with appropriate recording. It makes sense, but implementing this is time consuming.
A friend of mine pointed me to Clear Context. I’ve tried some other outlook plugins that never really worked well or they were so clunky they became annoying (rather than integrating with outlook, they launch a separate window that contains a new interface). Clear Context is different in that it integrates with Outlook 2003 and 2007 seemlessly (I’m currently only running with 2003) . All email processing can be handled with the new buttons they add for automatically creating tasks from email, creating schedule items from email and filing emails. It also auto-files items in threads into folders along with my reponses – no more digging through sent mail. And the Action View is excellent.
I now have my inbox down to 0 items – everything is filed and captured with minimal effort. That’s a great feeling. In my mind, this is what Outlook should have been in the first place. Their personal edition is free and the professional edition is ~$80. Below are some links to the items including a “Getting Things Done via Clear Context” pdf that is pretty useful.