Using ClearContext IMS Pro with GTD: Overview

Many individuals overwhelmed with information take control of Microsoft Outlook by combining ClearContext IMS Pro’s flexible and customizable email management features such as inbox prioritization and automated categorization with their favorite parts of David Allen’s Getting Things Done methodology to create a powerful information management strategy. A number of our customers have written about their use of ClearContext to implement GTD (see links here).  We have collected best practices from these writings and put them in a setup guide, Using ClearContext IMS Pro for Microsoft Outlook with Getting Things Done

Over the next week I will post excerpts from the setup guide.  In it, we outline basic steps our customers have taken to set up ClearContext and Microsoft Outlook to support GTD email processing including creation of context-specific action lists, project categorization, creation and maintenance of a “tickler” file, and steps to quickly implement a weekly review. If you are new to ClearContext or GTD, use this guide to get started – we expect everyone will tweak the system to match their particular information processing requirements as they become familar with the system.

For the purposes of this guide we assume that you have a working knowledge of GTD prior to implementation of ClearContext software. If not, we recommend you visit the Getting Things Done website and find some reference materials to get you started. For an introduction to Getting Things Done, see “What is GTD?”.

Quick Reference

For quick reference, here are the basics for setting up GTD with ClearContext IMS Professional:

 

Topics = Projects: ClearContext allows the assignment of Topics to email conversations. Use Topics to designate Projects and the IMS filing buttons to file email to Topic folders. Use a “/” when creating a Topic to designate sub-projects (i.e. “Project 1/Sub-Project2”).

 

 

Categories = Context: Use ClearContext workflow buttons (Task, Schedule, Delegate, Defer, etc.) to quickly process messages in the Inbox. When creating a Task or Appointment, use Outlook native categories to denote context (@Work, @Phone, etc.) for easy viewing of context-specific action lists. ClearContext will automatically file messages to their Topic folder as Tasks and Appointments are created.

 

Review: Use the ActionView to review your To-Do’s by context, project and/or date. The ActionView displays all To-Dos’ – tasks, appointments, flagged items and deferred messages – and filters them by Topic or Category.

 

Overview

In his methodology, David Allen suggests categorizing your email by project and context. Most technology solutions address one or the other well, but do not give a comprehensive way of tracking both. Using ClearContext IMS Pro, Topics can be used to maintain projects and native Outlook categories can be used to denote actions. Actions can then be viewed by project or context using the ActionView.

Workflow

ClearContext gives several workflow buttons to process the Inbox quickly and get it to empty. Each button will automatically file the original message to an associated topic folder and link the item to the current message conversation:

 

Task opens an Outlook task. Assign an Outlook category to this item to maintain action lists.

Delegate automatically creates either an assigned task or a forwarded message with an associated task for quick delegation to another person.

Schedule creates an appointment with the current message contents.

Defer places the current message in a deferred folder for a given period of time or until a given date. This is an excellent way to create and maintain a “tickler” file.

Filing buttons (File Msg, Thread or Topic) automatically moves messages, conversations, or entire topics/projects of email into associated ClearContext Topic Folders. Use these buttons to archive reference material that does not require one of the actions above.

Followup Message allows the creation of a special task tied to a message conversation. When sending an email, create a follow-up to remind you if you do not receive a response within a specified amount of time. If you do receive a response, the follow-up task is automatically cancelled.

Unsubscribe automatically files current and future messages of a given conversation to either their Topic folder or an unsubscribed folder. This helps remove those long email threads that you have no interest in that are cluttering your Inbox.

Review

In addition, ClearContext provides two features that provide a view across all messages, tasks, and appointments; regardless of location:

RelatedView displays all activity for a given message, task, or appointment. This includes all messages in the current email conversation (the original message and all replies to it) and all appointments and tasks created from the conversation using one of the workflow buttons above.

ActionView displays a list of global To-Do’s (tasks, deferred messages, and appointments) that can be filtered by date, topic, category, and/or priority. This dialog is the control panel for implementation of GTD in IMS Pro, providing quick access to context-filtered action lists and a method for performing the weekly review.

[Our next post in the GTD series will be on Action Management.  Download the entire guide here.]

GTD and Getting Things Done are registered trademarks of David Allen & Comp
any. ClearContext Corporation is not affiliated with David Allen & Company in any manner.

5 comments.

  1. GTD and ClearContext guidance

    In the past, I’ve posted quite a bit on how I use ClearContext as a lever to become more effective with Getting Things Done. If you’d like to benefit from some best practice documentation for using ClearContext with GTD, check

  2. GTD and ClearContext guidance

    In the past, I’ve posted quite a bit on how I use ClearContext as a lever to become more effective with Getting Things Done. If you’d like to benefit from some best practice documentation for using ClearContext with GTD, check

  3. GTD and ClearContext guidance

    In the past, I’ve posted quite a bit on how I use ClearContext as a lever to become more effective with Getting Things Done. If you’d like to benefit from some best practice documentation for using ClearContext with GTD, check

  4. […] last post gave an overview on using ClearContext IMS Pro with Getting Things Done.  Our next excerpt from the setup guide Using ClearContext IMS Professional for Microsoft […]

  5. […] far we’ve given an overview of using ClearContext IMS Pro with Getting Things Done and talked about Action Management, Project Designation and Review.  Our last excerpt from the […]



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