Sunday, July 29, 2007

Outlook/Exchange and GTD

For years everyone at my university has been told to use Eudora for email, because Microsoft Outlook was too prone to viruses. Then they hired a new vice president for computing and suddenly we are all being changed to Outlook 2007 with an Exchange Server (which means our mailboxes are stored on the server, something that we used to do but were told a year ago was no longer the policy).

I'm actually happier with Outlook than I expected. There are certainly things that aren't as convenient, but I love being able to flag emails that I need to respond to.

A couple of months ago I started using Google Calendar, and it has really paid off because it makes it possible for my husband and I to share our calendars with each other. I know at least he has the information (whether he will remember is another matter). I quickly found that I was having trouble keeping Google calendar matching the Daytimer I have used for over 20 years. So I bought an inexpensive PDA, a Palm Z22, and CompanionLink for Google Calendar software that allows me to synchronize the Palm, my Google Calendar, and Outlook (two at a time, not all three at once).

I'm struck by how the change from a Daytimer to a PDA is like the change from an analog to a digital watch. I resisted changing to a digital watch because the analog watch gave me a bigger picture--when you look at the minute hand it gives an intuitive picture of how long until the next hour. But I finally switched to a digital watch because I wanted the other features--I use my chronometer, timer, and three alarms. Similarly, I miss the big picture of my schedule the Daytimer gave me, but I like the new features of the PDA, such as alarms, and the smaller size.

The calendar change has inspired me to focus on getting more organized this summer. I'm partially using the Getting Things Done approach. I'm not interested in the system of folders, but given the opportunity provided by a new email program I'm trying out keeping my in box empty. I do think writing everything down is what I need. I'm using Simple GTD software so I can keep several to do lists (one for work and one for home is most obvious) and have one step of a project on the list. Now I have to get better about doing the things on my to do lists.

For something entirely different, read The Song of Myself.

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