Posts from April 2006.

Getting the Most Out of ClearContext: Revised

We have a great deal of information in the weblog on using ClearContext to it’s fullest.  If you’re visiting our weblog pages, you’ll note that I have revised the "Getting the Most Out of ClearContext" collection of posts on the right sidebar to reflect the changes in our v2 release.  The posts include:

Archive Sent Messages in Outlook – ClearContext can automatically move sent messages to their associated Topic folder – a great way to keep both sides of the conversation in the same folder structure.

ClearContext Proritization Adjustment – instructions for tweaking the weighting of ClearContext’s prioritization algorithm.

ClearContext & ActiveWords: a Script to Get Started – do you use ActiveWords?  This step by step scripts demonstrates how to use the ClearContext ActiveWords agent to map keywords to your personal topic structure.

Convert Your Folders to ClearContext Topic Folders – a quick note on taking advantage of ClearContext’s automated filing featues using your existing folders.

Holiday Email Avalanche
– You’ve got 100’s of messages in your inbox and you want to clear them
out?  Follow these tips to regain control of your Inbox using

How To Avoid Exceeding Your Mail File Size Limit – use ClearContext to help proactively stay ahead of your company’s size limitations.

IMS Pro Tips – a collection of tips highighting some core features of ClearContext IMS Pro.

User Guide – this is the complete User Guide for Inbox Manager and IMS Pro.  A downloadable version is also available.


I hope these help.  If there’s anything else you’d like to see on ClearContext use, please let us know.

IMS Pro Tips Roundup

In the days following installation, IMS Pro drops four tutorial emails in the Inbox with some tips to help new users quickly get up to speed on ClearContext capabilities.  Here’s a roundup of those emails, as posted in the weblog earlier in the year:

Some V2 Documentation

Views & Prioritization

Task & Calendar Management

Conversation Management

v2.0.4 Maintenance Release Available

We have released a maintenance update to the product.  v2.0.4 includes the following:

  1. Eliminated a Daylight Savings Time bug that caused dates to display incorrectly in the ActionView and RelatedView
  2. Detected email addresses now looks in multiple places to find Exchange addresses
  3. Detected email addresses now finds Office 2007 addresses

  4. Follow-up completion now updates the % complete and completion date

  5. Eliminated a bug in open items that caused multiple toolbars to appear when using arrows to view next/previous items

We also made several other minor cosmetic enhancements.   Download from our site here.

Using ClearContext for Getting Things Done

Over the last few weeks, a number of our users have posted methods for using ClearContext as a vehicle to incorporate Getting Things Done into their lives.  As we mentioned in a previous post, one of our main goals for v2 was to build a flexible framework that helps customers work more efficiently within whatever system or methodology they use to process tasks and information.  I want to share with you some GTD-specific comments as well as some upcoming enhancements we are making that will better support our GTD customers.

Paul has posted a detailed review of how he has used ClearContext to integrate GTD into his workday.  He walks through ClearContext installation and the features he uses the most:

"As part of of my goal to incorporate the Getting Things Done way of working in my daily routine I looked for tooling that assisted me in managing my Outlook email Inbox. I had a look at the Getting Things Done Outlook add-in from Netcentrics but did not find it to support my daily work. So I looked further and found the ClearContext Information Management System Professional."

In a similar vein, Jeff uses ClearContext as one of his many shortcuts for Getting Things Done:

"More recently, I’ve added ClearContext to the mix. This is an addin for Outlook that makes organizing your Inbox very easy and efficient. It analyzes your email patterns and can move/highlight the messages you receive based on sender, topic, priority, etc. There are a number of other productivity boosters that, as you learn them and make them habits, can quickly add up. I really like the ‘task’, ‘delegate’ and ‘defer’ options, which let you turn a message into a task for yourself, delegate it as a task for someone else, or simply hide it away until a later date."

The Tech Personality blog has posted How to Handle Too Much Email:

"The technique I use is based on ideas from David Allen’s Getting Things Done, my own techniques, and a great program called ClearContext. Now, my technique is based on Outlook & Exchange, because that is what I use, but you can adapt it to your email system of choice."

Ken has posted Implementing Getting Things Done with Outlook and ClearContext:

"In time, future versions of ClearContext should enable me to better expose the
custom fields so I can do a more clearer Category/Topic grouping to link up with
GTD’s concept of Action/Project. Overall though, I am quite impressed with
ClearContext v2.0 now that I’m using its tasks features."

This is a great segue into the enhancements that we will be making to better support our customers who want to integrate ClearContext into their workday:

  1. Topic Integration in Tasks – as Ken mentions above, we will be exposing topic names in tasks in a future release to support the building of custom task views within native Outlook that include assigned Topics
  2. Topic Duplication in Catgories – for all you PDA users, we’re going to give the option to automatically duplicate Topics in the Category field so that topics can be carried over to your portable devices
  3. Enhanced Topic Assignment UI – we have found that many GTD users have very large topic hierachies.  We are enhancing our Topic UI to better support quick topic assignment and message filing
  4. Delegate Defaults – when delegating an email, we will automatically set the delegated task’s status to "Waiting on someone else"
  5. Follow-Up Category – we are going to support category assignment when creating Follow-up tasks from compoased messages

We are also investigating other enhancements, which include adding additional default options when creating tasks and appointments and enhancing the ActionView UI.  For more detail on upcoming enhancements, see the recent update to our product plan.

Are there other enhancements we should be considering to help you implement your methodology of choice?  Please feel free to post comments here or send feedback directly to support at clearcontext dot com.  All of our enhancements are driven by customer requests, so please make your voice heard.

IMS Downloadable User Guide Posted

Though we’ve had a version of the User Guide available on our website since release, I finally got the opportunity to port it to PDF.  If you want an offline/ hard copy of the IMS user guide, grab it here.

On a side note, I got to play around with Word 2007 when creating this file.  I have to say, though the new UI took some getting used to, I’m very impressed at how easy it was to stylize the document, adding themes, formatting tables, etc..  Maybe the page number in the footer is a little gaudy, but I just couldn’t resist.  Also, it appears that the native Word 12 "Publish to PDF" function did a much better job of converting my document to a PDF file than the utility I was using previously.  I didn’t know I had the talent to produce such a good looking guide!  (If I do say so myself…)

There’s no rest for the weary: ClearContext v2.x Product Plan

Now that we have v2.0 out the door, it’s time for a product plan update.  We have some really exciting things planned for the product in the near future that we’d like to share with you.  I also want to talk a little bit about our Office 2007 efforts.  I’m going to break this into categories – v2.x, Incremental Features, and Office 2007 plans.

ClearContext v2.x
Much like our v1.1 release, our v2.x release will be 100% driven by customer requests.  We received a ton of great feedback during our beta period and will use v2.x as our opportunity to incorporate more of your suggestions into the product.  These include:

ActionView User Interface Enhancement
Topic DDLB Enhancements – Better UI for management of large folder hierarchies
Tighter Topic Integration in Tasks
Unsubscribe from a thread
Domain Resolution for Exchange Users
AutoAssign functionality integrated with Outlook Rules
Import/Export of ClearContext Settings (in the meantime, see here)
Advanced AutoAssign Rule Management UI
Integration with an exciting new email product (more on this in the near future!)

Incremental Features
These are among the additional feature/functionality improvements that we’re considering for the product:

Advanced Contact Management Capabilities – including Smart Topic Assignment
Multiple machine support – “Master/Slave” mode
Topic/Priority sharing in groups
Custom Forms Support
Prioritization in Other Folders

Our future features and additional products list remains largely unchanged from our v2 product plan.

Made for Office 2007
We are extremely excited about the work we are doing with Outlook 2007, slated for retail release early next year.  Outlook 2007 will provide us the opportunity to more tightly integrate our features into Outlook, for a seamless IMS experience.  Though we can’t officially support Office 2007 until Microsoft releases it, each subsequent ClearContext release will be made with an eye towards 2007 support.  Planned “Made for Outlook 2007” features include:

Context Menu (Right Click) Integration
Enhanced Category and Flags Support
Integrated RelatedView Dialog
Ribbon UI Implementation
Optimized Performance
Additional Office 2007-specific functionality – we’re going to delve into more detail on this later

As always, your feedback can and does help us refine our product plans.  You can post feedback in our forums, on the weblog, or send us a note at info ( at ) clearcontext dot com. We will update the plan and provide more concrete timeframes as we integrate your feedback and continue product development.

Bill Gates’ Email Management Strategy

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates writes about the tools he uses on a daily basis in a Fortune magazine article.  He outlines his strategy for managing email, which includes the use of an assistant to help prioritize messages:

"I get about 100 e-mails a day. We apply filtering to keep it to that level—e-mail comes straight to me from anyone I’ve ever corresponded with, anyone from Microsoft, Intel, HP, and all the other partner companies, and anyone I know. And I always see a write-up from my assistant of any other e-mail, from companies that aren’t on my permission list or individuals I don’t know."

"I use tools like ‘in-box rules’ and search folders to mark and group messages based on their content and importance."

"I’m not big on to-do lists. Instead, I use e-mail and desktop folders
and my online calendar. So when I walk up to my desk, I can focus on
the e-mails I’ve flagged and check the folders that are monitoring
particular projects and particular blogs."

It sounds like Bill’s a piler, not a filer.  For those of you who don’t have the luxury of an assistant to priortize
and organize your email, ClearContext IMS Pro can do much of this triage work for
you by analyzing incoming messages, highlighting your most important
items, and giving you sophisticated tools for categorizing and actioning messages.