GTD & ClearContext: Review

The release of v5.1 has made it easier than ever to implement GTD within Outlook.  We’re posting excerpts from our GTD Setup Guide.  See Parts 1, 2, 3 & 4.

Review

Once the Inbox has been processed, ClearContext provides several methods for reviewing and acting on To-Do Lists.

imageSummary Dashboard

The Summary Dashboard in the ClearContext Sidebar is the control panel for your day. If you close the Sidebar, access the Dashboard from the button in the toolbar or via the ClearContext menu.

Projects

The Projects section at the top of the Dashboard allows you to quickly see which Projects require your attention.

Large counts to the left of each Project give the total number of Due tasks, with a red dot indicating those Project with overdue tasks.

Use the pin icon to pin your most important Projects. To view only pinned Projects, select a view from the Project header (Active in the picture to the left).

Double-click <Unassigned Tasks> to view all your tasks without Project assignment. Double-click individual Projects to open a Project Dashboard.

Tasks/Appts

The Tasks and Appointments section of the Dashboard shows all of your Tasks across projects. Use the filter selector in the header (All in the picture to the left) to filter for date or category. When ready to focus on a single context (i.e. @Computer) select a category filter to view only those items in that Action List. The <Categorized> filter shows only those items with categories assigned to them; a simple way to view all of next actions in one place.

The Due Date and Priority buttons at the bottom of the Dashboard can be used to quickly change task information. Highlight multiple tasks and click the Due Date button to change the date due for all selected tasks.

imageProject Dashboard

When ready to focus on an individual project, open the Project Dashboard from the Projects section of the Dashboard.

Project Summary

In the Project Summary, add project related notes and view all tasks and appointments assigned to the Project. Use the Change menu in the Project header to quickly open pinned Projects. Click Folder to open the associated Project folder. Move or Pin a Project from the Actions menu.

Files and Contacts

Click the Files tab at the bottom of the Project Dashboard to view all attachments that have been emailed for this Project. Click the Contacts tab to view all Contacts you have corresponded with for this Project.

ClearContext Organizer

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Click the Organize Tasks button at the top of the Dashboard to open up the ClearContext Organizer and perform the weekly review. There are four tabs in the Organizer:

  • Dates – view overdue and pending tasks at a glance. Highlight multiple tasks and use the Due Date button to quickly move tasks due dates.
  • Project – see project assignments for all tasks and quickly assign Projects to unassigned tasks.
  • Category – view all tasks by context and assign new categories as needed.
  • Review – view completed or pending tasks by week. Filter by Project or Category.

The Weekly Review

Many GTD users find David Allen’s suggestion of a weekly review to be the most critical component of their GTD implementation. To automate the weekly review with ClearContext, use the ClearContext Organizer and ClearContext’s custom Inbox views to process actions by project. To perform the review, use these tools on a weekly basis:

  1. Empty the Inbox – Go through the email remaining for the last week – starting with high priority email first – and action it using Task, Schedule, Delegate, Defer or Delete.
  2. Empty the Head – Capture new tasks using the quick Add Task function on the Dashboard.
  3. Review – Select Organizer from the ClearContext menu.
    • Click the Date tab. Mark items complete as needed and reassign dates in bulk.
    • On the Project tab, ensure that all tasks have Projects assigned to them.
    • Open the Category tab and assign tasks to Action lists as required.
    • Click Review and look at the past week’s completed items to see if further action is required and/or document for reference.
    • View Pending on the Review tab and review tasks and appointments for the upcoming week. Right click and reassign dates as necessary. Capture any new actions that are triggered. Optionally filter by Project or Category for closer scrutiny.
  4. Review the Someday/Maybe folder and transfer any items to your system that have become active or delete any items that are no longer relevant.

MessageContext

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The MessageContext is a view of all related items for a given conversation. For example, your Inbox is empty and you receive a new message regarding a meeting you are attending later in the week. Open MessageContext to see previous emails about this meeting, along with any tasks or appointments created from the conversation. In Outlook 2003, access MessageContext via a button on the toolbar.

For Advanced Outlook Users: Creating Custom Task Views that Include the Project Name

The Dashboard and ClearContext Organizer are the quickest ways to view all To Do items, including Tasks and Appointments, by Project name. If desired, the Project name can be added to custom task views so that tasks within the native Outlook task pane can be sorted by project as well. To add Project to a Task view:

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  1. 1. Go to the task pane and click on the view that you want to alter.
  2. 2. Right click the header on the tasks list (i.e. where it says Subject, Due Date, etc.) and select "Field Chooser."
  3. 3. Select "Form…" in the drop down where it says "Frequently Used Fields:"
  4. 4. In the "Select Enterprise forms for this folder" dialog select Application Forms.
  5. 5. Highlight ClearContext and press Add…
  6. 6. Close the current dialog.
  7. 7. In the Field chooser, add CC-TopicName by clicking it and dragging it to the headers you initially right clicked.
  8. 8. Exit out of the field chooser.
  9. 9. If desired, change the name of the header on this field by right clicking CC-TopicName, selecting Format Columns, and changing the Label.

Repeat for each view that you want to alter.



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