J.D. Meier's Blog

Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness

My Cockpit

My Cockpit

  • Comments 4

A few readers asked me to show some screens of my approach in Outlook.   (I haven't used images in my blog before, so this is a good post to give it a shot.)

My Outlook Folders
Here's what I see when in my Outlook folders.

OutlookFolders4

Notice how I cluster my scannable action folders (Outcomes, To Dos and Daily Status) and my reference folders (Notes, Quick Stuff and Thoughts.)  The reference folders are my Collection Pools.  The folders are physically stored in my local Outlook.PST folder I named "Admin." I then dragged the folders up to "Favorite Folders" since I use them daily.

 

 

 

 

 

Scannable Outcomes
I use Posts in Outlook for my Scannable Outcomes.  This is what I see when I click my Outcomes folder:

ScannableOutcomes2

Each post represents a key project.  In each post, I list the outcomes and actions (like a mini queue.)  I can scan each post very quickly using the Outlook preview pane. 

My To Dos
I use Posts in Outlook.  Here's a shot of leveraging the pre-view pane for my To Dos.   This is what I see when I click my To Dos folder.

ToDos

Keys to Results

  • Factoring action from reference helps get results.
  • Consolidating reference information to a few collection pools helps simplify storing information.
  • Using scannable indexes for action is a low-overhead way to figure out next actions.
  • Using scannable outcomes shows me everything on my radar at a glance.  It's ultimately my portfolio of results and a quick view of where I spend my time and energy.  It continuously reminds me that I need to balance areas in my life.  When my portfolio is not compelling, I know it's time for a change.
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  • Thanks for sharing your advice on effective organizational techniques.  In a previous post called "Prioritizing Scannable Outcomes" you talk about a "Queue" folder and using category priorities (P0, P1, P2, P99) to sort outcomes by priority.  I'm not seeing that in your screenshots nor is there any mention of that approach in this posting.  I haven't gone through all your related posts in detail so perhaps I'm missing some history.  Do you still organize/sort outcomes by priority?

  • Steve - good catch!  I originally sorted the Outcomes list by p0, p1, p2, p99.  While it was helpful, I found that switching to key buckets helps me more.  For example, my p0 category is now Life Frame. I only have a few buckets (Administration, Life Frame, Personal Dev, Personal Projects and work Projects), and each bucket has a limited set of outcomes, so it's fast scanning.  Both approaches work, but I like the "buckets at a glance."  It reminds me that I have to balance across these categories and put time in each area to be at my best.

  • Actually, I realized that you can apply more than one category to a post/outcome.  Therefore, in addition to using descriptive buckets (e.g. Administration), I've also created priority category names that start with an underscore so they appear at the top of the sort order grouped together ahead of the descriptive category buckets (e.g. _P0, _P1, _P2, _P99).  Now I apply both a priority category and a descriptive category to an outcome and I can drill down by either priority or description.

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