Genuine Curiosity

Author Dwayne Melancon is always on the lookout for new things to learn. An ecclectic collection of postings on personal productivity, travel, good books, gadgets, leadership & management, and many other things.


A New Option for Getting Things Done in Outlook

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been test-driving the latest version of Netcentrics’ Getting Things Done (GTD) Add-in for Microsoft Outlook.  This one is version 3.0 and, though I owned versions 1 & 2, I haven’t looked at this add-in in a couple of years.

A lot has changed in version 3 – for the better.  Here are a few highlights from the NetCentrics site:

  • provides a powerful Project Central window to consolidate Project Manager and Open Project functions
  • easily Someday/Unsomeday projects
  • provides the ability to Hide/Unhide and Complete/Uncomplete projects and individual subprojects
  • create printable summary reports for projects
  • create Reference Folder and File To Folder defaults for each project
  • implements Outlook 2007 ribbons
  • provides a 2 minute timer
  • In addition, this new version seems more stable than I recall from previous versions (I had occasional Outlook ‘hangs’ with the previous version).

    What does the add-in do?

    GTD Taskbar The GTD Add-in is designed to make it easier to implement David Allen’s Getting Things Done methodology – specifically, David’s guidance for managing email, next actions, and projects.  It integrates with Outlook, and you can access most functions via the add-in’s toolbar (above) or with hotkeys.

    The add-in will allow you to quickly act on email by filing it, delegating it, converting to a task or calendar item, etc. and will handle the back-end “plumbing” for putting things in the right place within Outlook.  For example, project reference material can be automatically filed in a folder named after the project. The Add-in also does a decent job of remembering your recent choices for projects, folders, etc. so you can select them from a drop-down list of active or recent projects.

    Project Central


    For me, the most exciting of these new changes was what I saw in the area of Project management.  For me, one of the challenges of implementing the GTD methodology in Outlook has been Projects.  This Add-in makes Project management much easier and more intuitive by creating a “Project Central” project dashboard where you can view, manage, and edit projects and their associated sub-projects and actions.

    In the past, the actions and subprojects were all tracked in my Outlook Tasks, but this was a pain because the project items all sort of jumbled together.  Maybe I was doing something wrong, but it wasn’t working for me.

    With the GTD Add-in, the top-level view looks like my always-familar, structured, hierarchical list and it’s easy for me to create a new action, add notes / thoughts for future steps, etc.

    The Bottom Line

    If you’re a GTD follower using the GTD methodology for email and you’re currently and you’re currently using a “naked” Outlook implementation, this add-in will help you.  Likewise, if you’re big into projects and want an easy way to manage your projects from within Outlook, this add-in will help you.

    Be warned that organization always has a cost.  in this case, you’ll have to change your “workflow” for filing and managing email; essentially, you’ll need to invest a couple of clicks or keystrokes on actionable email to tell the Add-in how to handle your messages.

    As many of you know (since I’ve written about it here before), I’m also a user of ClearContext and use a variant of the original GTD workflow.  The good news:  the ClearContext and GTD Add-ins coexist peacefully.  The bad news:  I’m still using them both since there are certain features I like in each of them (for example, I am using the GTD Add-in for Project Management and using ClearContext for managing long email discussions and filing entire topics in a single keystroke).

    I’d love to hear from you how you are managing your inbox within Outlook – are you using one of these tools, or another?  If you’re a Mac user, what tools are available for you? Feel free to chime in with comments, questions, alternate points of view, etc.

    And may your inbox frequently get to zero.