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Outlook is part of the Microsoft Office suite with a bunch of integrated features: email, calendar, contacts, to-do list and simple notes.

Outlook should not be confused with Outlook Express for Windows (or the old Mac version of the same name), which is a stripped-down application consisting of a mail client and a Usenet (NNTP) news reader (which, oddly, the "full" Outlook does not have).

The equivalent of Outlook for the Mac is Entourage.


[edit] Setting Up Outlook For GTD

There is a PDF document that you can buy off of the DavidCo website that explains how to set up Outlook for his "Getting Things Done" system. There's also a plugin you can purchase from the same site.

An excellent example of how to use the advanced features of Outlook (in a simple manner) to streamline your work is found at whkratz's Setting up Outlook for GTD. Unfortunately the site was abandoned mid-way through its development, but it is still useful but only for older versions of Outlook. It appears that the ability to view contacts in outline list format is gone in newer versions of Outlook.

[edit] Organising in Outlook

I have three folders for email: NOW, LATER and WAIT.

I use outlook for my entire workflow. I flag every email that requires further action on my part with a follow up flag (cntrl-shift-g). If I need to add something to my workflow that didn't start with an email, I just send myself a short email with a descriptive title. When I finish the task, I just open up the email and flag it complete (cntrl-shift-g, then alt-o). I use the search folders to keep an eye on my total number of items to follow up. You can't nest search folders, but by creating other search folders for specific sub folders (which I setup for my large projects) I can keep an eye on my open items for big projects. If, by mistake, I flag two emails in the same email chain, then they appear together. This works especially well if you set this folder to group by conversation. If you set all your folders to use a bigger, red and bold font for emails set to follow up, they'll stand out against your other emails as big red warnings in your folders. Now if only I could make it ignore flags on emails that other people send me--OneEyedMan

I've tried using PlanPlus for Microsoft Outlook Version 3 to try to get my tasks, my emails and my calendar all in the same screen, but I've been disappointed in how this application works. It tries to enhances Outlook by integrating the FranklinCovey productivity tools on note taking, time management and more into Outlook, an application that many business and some private users are using already. While it sounds like it has everything I wanted, I ended up hating it because the design and implementation were both awful. I have a full Belligerati review of PlanPlus for Microsoft Outlook Version 3 where I detail the failings. You can also learn more about it from the project application's website--OneEyedMan

One useful tip I've found for Outlook-- I add notes about my next appointment with details about what to bring, things to discuss, etc., and then append the characters "*N" to the end of the title of the appointment. This is useful because the notes don't appear unless you specifically look for them-- so the "*N" tells me "hey, don't forget to check the notes when you are getting ready for this appointment."

[edit] Improving Outlook

You can improve Outlook's functionality dramatically by so called Plugins (Add-Ons, Add-Ins):

Lightspeed Keyword based search Lookeen for Outlook: The 'successor' of the legendary Lookout adds a search toolbar to your Outlook window that performs a global search. (For example: entering "Johnny Depp" into the Lookout bar will find any email where you discussed Mr. Depp, as well as his contact record, notes mentioning him, etc.) It is factor 100 times faster than regular searching, especially if you have tons of folders with thousands and thousands of emails filed away. Lookout was acquired by Microsoft in 2005. The new Outlook 2007 disables Lookout.

Conversation based search (Communication traceability) Chilibase plugin: Adds an "person panel" to your Outlook GUI, showing all people you are dealing with. You can track the complete conversation with a person or a team with a single click. Since most of Email issues are person related, searching people is much more efficient than looking for keywords. Maybe the next product acquired by Microsoft?

[edit] Automatically Convert Any Text to Outlook File

http://getanagram.com/anagram/download.html - I am in no way affiliated with this company/product and I've only been using it for a few days. It takes any text - say an email signature - and converts it to an Outlook Contact file. It's like an above average OCR for existing electronic text, and it has saved me tons of time just because I don't have to create Contacts by hand.

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