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Blog: Technology As An Organizing Tool
Taking Back Your Life

After a long search for a really good book about Microsoft Outlook one that would explain how to use the time and task management functions I was thrilled to find Sally McGhee's Take Back Your Life! Using Microsoft Outlook to Get Organized and Stay Organized. Making the time to implement McGhee's strategies was of course another problem altogether. My next happy discovery was that her company also sells an Outlook Add-in to simplify the process. After downloading the free trial from www.mcgheeproductivity.com, I was happy with what I saw, and made a purchase.

One of the features I liked was the ability to click on "Send&File" to save a sent message to a folder other than the "Sent" folder. I saved so much time using this feature alone that my purchase paid for itself within the first month. You can also click on "Send&Task" or "Send&Calendar" to automatically create a task or calendar entry when you send an email, while easily assigning a Category, including the email body, and/or deleting the message after it has been sent. This is another great time saver, and to the best of my knowledge, there is no way of doing this using Outlook alone.

Another function reminds you to include your Purpose, Action, and Supporting Documentation in your email, and to summarize your Subject line effectively (what McGhee calls the PASS system). Those are important things to remember, but I wasn't all that impressed with this feature. There is also a toolbar button that would insert an agenda template into the body of your email, which might be very useful for some people, but was not relevant for me in my work.

One thing I found quite annoying was an entire toolbar which included no tools whatsoever, but only tips for managing your system, something that I think should have been part of the Help system, especially since there did not appear to be a way to disable or hide the toolbar.

A new version of the Take Back Your Life! book has been released to cover Office 2007, and McGhee Productivity Solutions is currently working on an updated version of their TBYL Outlook Add-In, which will be made available at no cost to anyone who purchases the Outlook 2003 version. I'm now using Office 2007 but will probably not be installing TBYL on my new system, not only because I've learned how to save outgoing messages directly into appropriate folders (by clicking on "Options" before sending a message and specifying where you want to save it), but because Outlook 2007 includes so many more features to facilitate time and task management that I no longer feel the need for it.

I do, however, still recommend McGhee's book if you want to learn how Outlook can help maximize your productivity. You may even want to download a free trial of the Add-In it might be just what you need!

posted on: 10/11/2007 8:30:00 AM by Janet Barclay
category: Business

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Technology As An Organizing Tool

by Janet Barclay

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Janet Barclay is a Master Virtual Assistant and the founder of Organized Assistant. Specializing in supporting entrepreneurs in the Organizing and Career Services industries, Organized Assistant provides top-notch Internet marketing services to business owners of all shapes and sizes.

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