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Converting from GTD Outlook Addin and Mailfiler Pro

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Converting from GTD Outlook Addin and Mailfiler Pro

Postby ssholloway » Mon Aug 14, 2006 5:59 pm

I currently use the GTD Outlook Addin and have almost 400 projects, most of which have at least one subproject. I also use Mailfiler Pro to automatically mark and file incoming email. Unfortunately, the two products can conflict when I create a "next action" from an email message that is part of a thread. The GTD addin wants to file the email in an @action subfolder under the Inbox folder while Mailfiler wants to file it in a different email subfolder to preserve the thread. This causes Outlook to hang for up to a minute or so.
From what I've seen, ClearContest appears to handle both functions and would avoid the conflict. I'd like to demo the product but need a way to preserve my existing project/subproject categorization and my current email subfolder tree.
Any ideas would be greately appreciated.
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Joined: Mon Aug 14, 2006 5:44 pm

Postby brad » Mon Aug 14, 2006 7:25 pm

Several customers have written about how they have adapted ClearContext to their personal GTD system. We have linked to many of those comments here.

As to your specific question: Most map ClearContext Topics to GTD Projects. ClearContext Topics are determined by the folder list under the ClearContext Topics folder. For example, folder "Work" with subfolder "Admin" under the ClearContext Topics folder would result in two Topics - "Work" and "Work/Admin". You can designate which folder you want to be your root ClearContext Topics folder. So, in the example you give below, if you have a folder named "Projects" and you designate that folder as your ClearContext Topics folder, then all of your sub-folders (Project1, Project2, etc.) will be recognized as ClearContext Topics. Alternatively, you can drag existing folders under the default ClearContext Topics folder to convert them to Topics folders.

We have a great deal of information online that explains this in detail. A good starting point is the Topics section of our User Guide. Be sure to note the explanation for changing the location of your ClearContext Topics folder and the tip for converting existing folders to Topics folders.

Please let me know if this helps and/or if I can provide more detail.
Brad Meador
Posts: 2161
Joined: Wed Jun 16, 2004 5:35 pm

Postby ssholloway » Tue Aug 15, 2006 2:56 pm

Thanks for the quick response, Brad. I had already read all the links you referred me to. And last night, I read the user manual so I see that I can actually use my existing mailbox subfolder tree with only minor changes.
I do have several questions regarding the use of topics. I manage one major client and several smaller ones. The major client has approx. 300 pending projects and approx. 100 of the projects have one subproject active at any given time. BTW, I'm on an Exchange server if that makes any difference.
1. Incoming email alerts me to a new project and/or subproject for a client. I want the email automatically associated with the topic "client" so I can quickly prioritize my Inbox. No problem so far with ClearContext.
2. I then want to create a new task from the email with the topic "client/project/subproject." No problem there either since I know I can change the topic on the task. But I want to file the email in a subfolder for the client, i.e., the email topic should remaing "client". This is because with threaded views, I don't need the finer granularity and because it would create a very deeply nested email tree if I filed it in a "c/p/s" subfolder. So if I select "file to topic" for the original message in the task view, which topic does it use? What happens if I select "no action"? I think I know what happens if I select "delete"!!
3. I also want to schedule an all-day event on the day that the project is due and have the topic for the appointment to be "c/p/s". Is there an easy way to create both a task and an appointment from the same email?
4. Later, I may want to assign the task to someone else, but I want the outgoing delegate email to be filed under "client." Is this possible if I select "file to topic" or "no action" when I originally create the task?
And now a technical question. Are the tasks stored under the Outlook task folder in a subfolder tree that reflects "c/p/s" or is the topic association maintained differently, such as through custom Outlook fields? What about the appointments?
Final question for now. Is there anyway to automatically append the topic to the subject matter of the email/task/appointment?
Thanks for your help. And thanks for picking up my similar question to Jason Clarke on his web site. You must monitor a number of blogs to have found that so quickly!!
Posts: 27
Joined: Mon Aug 14, 2006 5:44 pm

Postby brad » Tue Aug 15, 2006 6:33 pm

Let me dive right into it:

#2 - You can assign topics to tasks that are different than the thread they originated from. When creating a task, change the topic name to c/p/s and select "no" when asked if you want to change the topic assignment for the entire thread. The email will retain whatever topic you originally assigned it - in this case the client name - and will be filed in that folder when you file it either by using a filing button or by using the "File To Topic" option when creating the task. BTW - "no action" means the the Original Message stays put and is not filed or deleted after a task is created from it.

There is, however, a disadvantage to breaking a task from the message's original topic. The task will no longer appear in the RelatedView for that message conversation. So if that's a concern for you you may not want to break off a task from the message's original topic name.

That said, you will still be able to able to filter by topic name in the ActionView and see the task. Filter by client name and select "Show Sub-Topics" to see all tasks for a given client, regardless of the sub-project you have assigned.

#3 - you can create as many tasks or appointments as you want from a single message. The only awkwardness that occurs is if you use the File To Topic the first time you create an item from a message - you'll have to go find the original message wherever it was filed to create the second item. I use File to Topic all the time, so what I usually do is Click task to start the task, go back to the original message before saving the task, click schedule to start the appointment, and then complete both the task and appointment that are open.

#4 - you can turn on "Save messages to Topics folders" in the Topic options screen. This will ensure that all outgoing messages with a topic assigned will be saved in the associated Topic folder rather than the Sent Message folder. As you delegate a message, just make sure that it has a Topic assigned and the delegated message will be saved in the appropriate folder.

Tech Question: Tasks and Appointments are stored in their Outlook default folders (Tasks and Calendar). We maintain a hidden table that associates these items with their appropriate message conversation thread and ensures that the Topic names appear as assigned.

Final Question: There is not a way to append the Topic to the subject of an item. Though not exactly what you ask, In the next major release, we will allow the ability to duplicate Topics in categories. Categories are communicated to the outside world when you send a message, so this may be of some use.

I hope this helps. Please let me know if I can provide further assistance.
Brad Meador
Posts: 2161
Joined: Wed Jun 16, 2004 5:35 pm

Postby ssholloway » Wed Aug 16, 2006 11:00 am

Thanks for the detailed answer. I've installed the trial and have a question about the AutoAssign rules, but I'm going to open another thread on that subject since it's off-topic for this one.
Posts: 27
Joined: Mon Aug 14, 2006 5:44 pm

Don't sort, search

Postby sysadmn » Thu Aug 24, 2006 3:41 am

I had a similar problem, in that I wanted to file emails in a way that made it easy to find them, but didn't necessarily correspond to where CC (and before that, Outlook rules) put them.

I tried the suggestion in the Dave's Outlook pdf (assign an easy to remember code, then search for the code using Find). As you probably found out, there are no easy to remember codes when you have 100+ projects...).

When gmail started out, it had the motto, "Don't Sort - Search!". If you have Google Desktop, Copernic, Lookout or another desktop search tool, this actually works! When I'm looking for an email, I hit CTRL-CTRL, type in the keywords, and select the message thread I'm looking for in Google Desktop. Even better, the displayed message has selections for "View entire Thread" and "View in Outlook".

I can dump all emails from a project in a folder, use GD to find a particular conversation, and view the entire conversation - usually faster than I can find the email in a folder!
Reality is Negotiable.
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Joined: Mon Jul 31, 2006 7:35 am

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