Give me your best scenario


Hey you! I am looking for some good scenarios around lightweight project management (hierarchical task lists, sub tasks, dependent tasks, etc – you choose.) Please help me help you by adding a comment on this blog with your best lightweight project management scenario that you feel isn’t well supported in Outlook as it is now (Outlook 2007 B2TR or earlier.) And of course, let me know which features you feel are missing. For example, if you want “sub tasks,” let me know and elaborate on what you mean.


 


http://blogs.msdn.com/melissamacbeth/archive/2006/01/13/512780.aspx


http://blogs.msdn.com/melissamacbeth/archive/2006/01/26/518104.aspx


Comments (34)

  1. mmacbeth says:

    To get the ball rolling, I thought I would be the first to put an example out there. Here is an example of a hierarchical list that isn’t easy to do in Outlook:

    []Shopping

         []Grocery Store

              []Milk

              []OJ

              []Chocolate

              []Dinner

         []Pharmacy

              []Pick up prescription

              []Vacuum bags

         []Video Store

              []Drop off Videos

              []Rent season 1 of the Office

    -Melissa

  2. Anas says:

    a task that i would like supported are events. I know there are things like appointments that could take its place but i dont want to be alerted for these things because they are events.

    Also, sometimes i mark up emails that are related to events or tasks that i have.

    Another thing. is there a way to add task and appointment. i think they are the same thing.

  3. Josh Maher says:

    Two things, Timer tasks & follow-me tasks.

    So if I have a task, I may want to track exactly how much time I spend on that task. Writing a web page, a blog post, a book, etc. I need to track where my time is being spent (GTD, 7 habits, etc)

    Follow-me tasks that are interoperable with other things…I want to publish my tasks so I can login to IM from home, to a browser at the library, to outlook at work, or to outlook at home (that is connected to different e-mail servers) and get the same tasks (and same calendar). Add this to the follow-me tasks and one could really add value to their own effectiveness with little effort 🙂

  4. My Personal Project Management with Outlook

    ===========================================

    I have many projects in my life.  Examples from the past included small projects like "go to the dentist" and large projects like "Organize wedding".

    "Going to the dentist" (phone to get an appointment, figure out which trams and busses to take, then go to the appointment) is the kind of project that can be done adequately in outlook as it is.

    "Organize wedding" is of course quite something else.  It’s a projects that has many, many aspects (note that I’m avoiding "subprojects/subtasks" here).  Every aspect can be quite complex as well.

    I see two ways to extend outlook to be able to keep track of such a project.

    1) Tasks and subtasks

    ———————

    This is the version that probably springs to mind first.  Define a main task "Organize wedding", define subtasks for "Mass", "booklet", "feast", "invitations", etc.  For each of those subtasks, define more subtasks that are the tangible steps to be done.

    Each tangible task has a "percent done" field, and the value for the "percent done" field of the subtask is calculated by averaging the percentages of the tangible task.  The percentage of the main task is calculated by averaging the percentage of the subtasks.  It would be nice to have a graphical representation of those percentages, like a progress bar.

    This is very similar to the definition of tasks in MS Project.  Since this is a Personal project management thing, we don’t need all the scheduling capabilities and the like of MS Project.

    To summarize: we have "Main tasks", "Subtasks" and "tangible tasks", or three levels of tasks.  I think three levels is enough, but I wouldn’t object to more levels.  Only two levels would definitely be too few for large projects like a wedding.

    2) Categories

    ————-

    I could use categories for projects.  However, if I’m also using categories for "type of action", we have an overloaded entity, which makes things difficult.  Now, If I want to group all my tasks according to the categories, I’ll end up with groups that represents "tasks that belong to a project" *and* groups that represent "tasks that require a type of action".  I would of course like to define a view that gives me only the groups that represent tasks that belong to a project, and another view that gives me only the groups that represent tasks that require a type of action.

    To the best of my knowledge, it is impossible to define those views in outlook as it is.  I can define "group by category", and I can filter that tasks that will be displayed.  What I cannot do is "filter the categories that will be used for grouping".

    To summarize: for this approach, we would need the ability to filter the items/categories that will be used for grouping tasks.

  5. Jackie Bodine says:

    I have lots of tasks that have a dependency on a location.  For example, "Take out the Trash" needs to be done when I’m at home, and "Stop by boss’s office" needs to be done when I’m at work.

    I’d love if I could set up my tasks to notify/remind me when I’m in the correct location, so if I log on from home, I see the home tasks, and if I log on from work, I get an alert about the work tasks.

  6. P Cause says:

    I want a master task and then a set of sub tasks.  Each task can have a duration, but I want to define a sequence and then trigger the next task when the preceding is done.  I also want to save a set of tasks as a template.

    I don’t need any of fancy starting options from Project, just a simple A starts after A, C after B, etc.  I am also happy with completion of A triggering only one other task (B) and not a set (B,C,D).

    I can live with a 2 level hierarchy, but would prefer 3 levels (projects, sub projects and tasks).

    Thanks for asking

  7. Jeff Nutbeem says:

    I have just read through the previous blog which was started by Melissa Macbeth, and most entries seem to adequately describe what she has just asked again!

    It really isn’t that difficult.

    1. Just allow a task to be dragged into another task, making it a nested subtask.

    2. Allow it to be a free backwards compatible upgrade into previous versions of Outlook, as the feature should have been there is the first place. (A suggestion from the the Bovine Aeronautical society..)

  8. Claus Jacobsen says:

    I gues it could best be described by a link! try http://www.abstractspoon.com/ and see. This is actually a very neat little program, with maybe a bit more functionality than should/could be used in outlook, but it show how a simple projectmanagement program with only tasks could be made.

  9. Johann says:

    Melissa the main thing is to get something similar to your comment post i.e. 2 or 3 level of tasks.  Master project, sub projects, sub tasks, or Project, project tasks.  

    This would actually make Outlook much more usable.

  10. Devin says:

    I use ClearContext in conjunction with Linenberger’s Total Workday Control system.

    I would really like to be able to associate Master Tasks (functionally, long-term projects, classified as those without a due date) with my action oriented day to day tasks that I work on from 9 to 5 (they have due dates).

    Devin

  11. Iain Porter says:

    I would focus on time tracking.  

    When I receive an email requiring later action, I flag it.  I then use this email to prompt completion of the task.  However, it’s not a task – i can’t put further information in with the email.  I thus can’t put a plan, or track sub-tasks completed and time taken as I work.  Finally, I can’t then see, at the end of the month, how long this task took to complete.  I guess I have to make a new task, and then copy and paste the email into it?  This is harder than it could be.

    Additionally, I don’t want to have to open up a journal item, click start, and keep that window open while completing the task.  This should be in the task, and starting and stopping shouldn’t require opening that task.

    Further, I want to be able to select a set of completed tasks (whether from email or a created task), and have it count the sum of time taken to complete them.

    Iain

  12. Irishdancer says:

    Well, as a university student I would be pleased if I could enter the due date of a task directly w/o having to open every new task to assign one.

    Additionally it would be pleasant when I get an e-mail that’s associated with a deadline or task that I can delete the task without deleting the associated e-mail or vice versa. I consider this practical, esp. if you want to tidy up your calendar or if you have to delete e-mails b/c of lack of space on your e-mail account (uni account is accessed by IMAP and has a low quota of 25MB).

    Irishdancer

  13. mazzorca says:

    HI, I would like to see some kind of "GOAL, Proyect, Task" hierarchical organization.

    With an option toogle between Commited and Deferred. And the option to review all as a outlook shows tasks. Also recomend to take a look to jello.dashboard is a HTML dashboard for outlook. It’s very useful the link jello.wordpress.com. tanks for a great piece of software

  14. LM says:

    It is very difficult to implement outcome based planning and management in Outlook.

    Outcome, Project, Task, subtask are all needed.

  15. mazzorca says:

    There is some posibity to do search folders to work as "search all elements" in the tools menu? I want to see all the elements in a category (emails, contacts, tasks …) not only emails. Is a little awkward to set a search every time I want to see that.

    Also about the commited and defferend I name in the other post. to get a task in the category it belongs but as deferred, but it only shows when I want to review all the task I must do, and set that to commited, and appear in the task pane as active task. Is an option between Active and Done.

  16. Tim says:

    Sub-Tasks, that’s what I need.  If you’re into GTD, you know that almost everything you do is a project with multiple next actions.  I have started using MyLifeOrganized (MLO) because I can’t deal with the lack of sub-tasks in OL2007 (and the slowness of creating new tasks in comparison to MLO).  

    Here’s an example project:

    Project: Quote Desktop System for Client

    Next Actions:

     – Call Client to discuss Requirements

     – Configure system on Dell.com

     – Request Quote from Dell

     – Send Quote to Client

     – Call Client to discuss the quote

     – Order System

     – E-mail Technician about the order being placed

    Other Features I’d love in Outlook 2020 (jk):

    – Tabbed Interface (OneNote and IE7 are the only lucky ones to get tabs)

    – Ability to see an Associated Project of a Next Action (including all e-mails, tasks, and contact information)

    – Ability to have Calendar Views, Task Views, and Mail on one Screen (configure it however I want) … I have a 24" LCD … I have room to spare.

    – Complete Sub-Tasks of a selected Project in order (toggle this on/off so you only view the current next actions)

    – SpeedFiler built-in

    – Rapid Task Entry (See MLO) Yes, I know you can do it by making a shortcut, but that’s not the same.

    – Manual Ordering of Tasks (esp just by using the keyboard)

    – Tags (like del.icio.us)

    – Portable App Support (U3)

    – More priorities (10 would be nice)

    – Tabbed Interface (Yeah, I know I posted this twice … it’s important!)

    – Gmail’s Conversation View … I think Thunderbird is going to do that next.

    – Syncing via FolderShare

    – Deferring E-mails

    – Better Interface for Reminders.  The reminder window should be resizable AND there should be like 5 or so buttons on it … and be customizable with my own times.  So, one might be 5 minutes, another 22 minutes, another 3 hours, etc.  That would make it a one click snooze instead of three clicks it if I want to change the time.

    – Color Coded Reminders (in the reminder window) Large Icons too.

    So … Just buy Claritude (SpeedFiler), NetCentrics (GTD Add-In) and IngBox (Taglocity) and Caelo (Nelson Email Organizer) and you should be good to go!

    I could go on and on all day …

    Tim

  17. Mark says:

    My scenario is pretty simple. I want to enter a task, and give it a priority(1-4), severity(1-4), and category(home, work, church, …). Then have outlook show me my tasks grouped by category, and sorted by Priority, then severity.

    The outlook priority only has 3 levels, which isn’t that useful to me. I added a custom priority field in Outlook 2003, and pretty much solved my problem. But now I see that my custom field isn’t available for viewing or sorting in the TODO bar. Is that bug or by design?

    I also see 2 new fields in 2007 called Custom Priority and Custom Status. But I can’t figure out how to use them. Can you discusss their purpose sometime?

  18. Peter T says:

    Melissa,

    Why don’t you take a look at Plan Plus 4.0. They’ve pretty much incorporated what Outlook should have had natively. For example, my wife and I were just looking at selling a car. Using Plan Plus and the project view, I quickly typed Sell car, enter/tab (to create a subtask) Get appointment for cleaning enter/ take for cleaning, enter/take picture, enter/ create ad, enter/ print ad in colour enter/ post

    Sell Car

      Get appointment for cleaning

      Take for cleaning

      take picture

      upload picture

      create ad

      print ad on colour printer

      post ad in neighbourhood stores

    This is just a small personal project. I also had to paint my house recently and was quickly able to create a mini project with 20-30 tasks and go through methodically to finish. I can also put the tasks on my calendar and assign a time to them. I also tackle many small projects at work which a task/subtask feature helps me tremendously to tackle.

    Peter

  19. Aldo Caballero says:

    Absolutely the inclussion of Project, SubProject and task would be really useful in a day to day work. But not only are there purely named TASK in a whole day but also meetings, mails to do, etc. to complete certain projects; so it will be nice to have a kind of "task related activities" but not only TASK. Obviously consider the fact that it should be manageable in priorities.

    AldoCab

  20. Simon Potton says:

    Dear Melissa,

    I would like to see the ability to translate MS Project activities into Outlook tasks and to show the timelines for these in Calendar. The hierarchy would be the same as any hierarchy in Project. In case this = heavy(!), it would in any case be great to have in Outlook a similar sub-tasking ability as there is in Project. Also, good to be able to pull out tasks for the day from all projects into Outlook Today. Haven’t had time to look at your release about the new version of Outlook, perhaps it’s all there! Thanks for the question.

  21. Leopold B says:

    Dear Melissa,

    Kudos for being such a mensch by deliberately reigniting this kvetch fest.

    [Note: ‘Mensch (MENSH), the word means simply “man” in German; BUT in Yiddish it has been narrowed and elevated to a human being of _exceptional uprightness_, a decent, honest, reliable human being; though the original noun is masculine, it can now be used for

    either gender!’]

    On February 12, 2006, on the original thread, I posted a cynical yet totally sincere comment [ http://blogs.msdn.com/melissamacbeth/archive/2006/01/26/518104.aspx#530447 ]. Okay, no denying I’m just a garden variety ‘alter cocker’ [old griping fart] who yet remains an incorrigible ‘luftmensh’ [a dreamer, someone whose head is in the clouds]. Naturally, I druther be Ghengis Gates or Cornelius Vanderbilt Ballmer… but dems da brakes.

    Anyhoo, I got two points to toss into the ring:

    Point 1:

    Melissa, do you not coordinate with Microsoft Press writer/consultant Sally McGhee? Since MS has  published her book about Outlook, you’d think it might have grasped and ALREADY implemented some of the core concepts she expounds.

    Let’s step back for a sec and reformulate the issue in light of Ms. McGhee’s jargon.

    Sally de-emphasizes somewhat the verticalness of the task/sub-task hierarchy. By doing so, she gives the issue some extra oomph in a way that her friend David Allen would hardly disagree with, but doesn’t formulate himself.

    Moreover, Sally’s spin may be possibly be more palatable to the Microsoft mindset, given the feet-stuck-in-concrete attitude that Redmond has evinced so far.

    Sally de-empahsizes the obviously  despised (in Redmond, that is) term "sub-task," although organizing hierarchically by task/sub-task is absolutely implicit in her terminology.

    Sally empahsizes SNAWADs — strategic next actions without ANY dependency. Page after page she discusses this greatest thing on earth — the SNAWAD.

    But Sally is also very clear that it is critical to reckon with what she variously refers to as ‘dependencies’ or ‘dependent actions’ or  ‘sub-tasks’ or ‘supporing projects.’

    Sallie’s got a multitude of interchangeable terms for this hierarchical concept, but it would be foolish to bite the MS hand that feeds her by going out her way to by shine a klieglight on — or raise questions about —  this humongous flaw in Outlook’s design.

    By focusing strongly on SNAWADs yet not ignoring the vital importance of spelling out ALL your DAs — Sallie artfully avoids slapping the Microsoft mindset upside — an organization apparently epoxy glued to the inane concept of ONLY providing a platform for recording simple, immediately performable tasks, i.e., SNAWADs … and yet her book implicitly takes MS to task for not providing a  ready means of entering DAs into the system. Very diplomatic of Ms. McGhee.

    Might this semi-obfuscating  jargon make the concept of creating task hierarchies less jarring to powers-that-be in Ballmersville?  For surely it should be darn simple to implement once the Outlook teams dissolves its ridicule, dismissiveness and aversion to the concept.

    Then again — tell me true, Melissa: PERHAPS YOU ARE INDEED UNDER ORDER NOT TO PERMIT Outlook TO CANNIBALIZE SALES OF MS Project.

    I’m surely no Cornelius Ballmer, but please do lemme opine that that would be a strategy most lame.

    Google and a host of other firms are hot on the heels of the Redmond Hegemon. MS Project’s future is doubtful regardless how many features it cannibalizes from or prevents inclusion in Outlook.

    By contrast, Outlook is an effing CATEGOFY KILLER.

    As one of the world’s all time great mensches once said:

    "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be."

    Or could it be that Microsoft’s "ticker" (we all know it has no heart) is no longer in this, one of its killer apps that has the potnetial to become even more ubiquitous.

    Tell me true, s’il-vous plait.

    Point 2:

    Dirk Rombauts is correct:

    >>> I could use categories for projects.  However, if I’m also using categories for "type of action", we have an overloaded entity, which makes things difficult.  Now, If I want to group all my tasks according to the categories, I’ll end up with groups that represents "tasks that belong to a project" *and* groups that represent "tasks that require a type of action".  I would of course like to define a view that gives me only the groups that represent tasks that belong to a project, and another view that gives me only the groups that represent tasks that require a type of action.

    >>> To the best of my knowledge, it is impossible to define those views in outlook as it is.  I can define "group by category", and I can filter that tasks that will be displayed.  What I cannot do is "filter the categories that will be used for grouping". <<<

    The "category" problem that Dirk observes pokes it head up in other ways.

    I won’t take much more of your time on this, but to point out that communication logging capabilities are sorely logging in Outlook — and this has to do with the cross-section of category deficiences and shallow hierarchal capacity. Yeah, I know, the Outlook website says to bump up to MS CRM. That, my friend, is pure cowpie.  MS CRM requires and IT professional ON STAFF or ON RETAINER. Yes, I realize MS needs to spread the wealth — or at least feed — the tens of thousands of certified MS Consultants, but here again, Outlook may well get outflanked. I have a couple of hundred business projects going at once. I need more hierachical depth than Outlook bCenter offers. Categories are fine for categorizing communications by type — but they’re useless for demarcating projects. Journal does seem to have INCREDIBLE potential because it can link to clients, accounts and contacts with journal entries of communications — but without any hierachical  depth, communications are trouble to sort by project & by individual if several contacts are involved on the same project. OneNote is a fine reference tool and ofers a partial solution — but it too present difficulties with its hierarchical shallowness.

    But what is galling is the oh-so-blatant anti-cannibal directives redundantly posted every other paragraph on the bCenter webpage — directing one to MS’ TOTALLY unfeasible CRM package.

    Well, my friend, that is NOT the way to make friends.  

    If I, your customer of 20 years standing, who’s shelled out thousands if not tens of thousands, to help make Steve Ballmer the 3rd (or so) richest man in the world, am treated with such transparent used car salesman tactics… then this here ‘alter cocker’ may have to move on. It’s not just Google… MacIntel is hot on Redmond’s heels too, as well other entities materializing out of virtual reality –literally out of nowhere.

    Enuf, already…

    Well, you asked for it Melissa. Send out another kvetch invitation, and I may just join in again in the Greek Chorus in a few months time.  Till then,

    Best regards,

    Leopold B.

  22. mmacbeth says:

    Leopold,

    Thank you for your comments. Believe me, I wouldn’t ask if I wasn’t looking for a little kvetching. Your comments along with others who comment here help us to hear our customer needs – loud and clear.

    As far as cannibalizing MS Project’s sales – that is not why we didn’t implement subtasks this time around. We didn’t implement subtasks for the reasons given in my previous posts: the problems we identified with tasks and time management were not a lack of subtasks but a lack of visibility. Now that they are more visible, other problems, specifically the difficulty of planning projects in Outlook without subtasks, have become more apparent. (No guarantees here – just pointing out what has become more apparent.) OneNote helps, but OneNote isn’t the complete solution.

    The time management spectrum is wide: on one end of the spectrum is Outlook with a flat list of tasks, and at the other is Project, with a full blown scheduling engine, task dependencies, and so on. There is room to grow on either end! Project and Outlook are very different products with different customers and different usage scenarios.  If anything, we are trying to work better together, to learn from one another, and find better ways to satisfy our customers.

    Are there specific features *besides* subtasks that you wish you had in Outlook? How do you define subtasks – do they have dependencies, or is it just a hierarchy?

    Your feedback helps me to help you by helping me prove my case back in Redmond and to give my team focus. Thanks for your help!

    -Melissa

  23. Alex Dresko says:

    Sorry I’m getting in on this so late, but I wanted to make my opinion known here. I don’t even have time to read the previous entries to make sure someone hasn’t said this already.

    Anyway, in my opinion, every single task I try to accomlish in my day to day life is a project in some respect. Brushing my teeth is a project just as is creating a new software product. Also, each task can contain sub tasks. That doesn’t mean these tasks are grouped into folders.. That means I should have the same capabilities on a parent task as I would with sub tasks and they should supercede each other. So if I set a parent task’s Status to Waiting on Someone Else, it should set that Status on all of the child tasks. I should also be able to mark a parent task as complete and have it mark all child tasks as complete. Of course, there are scenarios where a child task should not inherit its status from the parent task if, for example, the task can be delegated to someone else and isn’t necessarily "on hold"..

    Tasks should also allow ordering in such a way that you cannot go from one task to another unless the previous task has been completed first.

    Those are the things I’ve always wanted to see.

  24. Tyler B says:

    I have a lot of mini-projects at work that include the same steps for each kind of project.  I would love to be able to set up projects in Outlook that have a preset list of subtasks to check off to make sure nothing gets missed for each process we have to go through.  These processes each last from as few as two days to two weeks to two months.  These are usually my top-priority projects that I am assigned to at work, with a specific deadline.

    At home, the projects aren’t as straightforward as the ones assigned at work — they aren’t as well-defined, don’t necessarily have a deadline, and the priorities shift a lot because there are so many things competing for my spare time.  For those projects, I have long wished there was an application like Microsoft Money but for projects — but instead of tools for financial tracking and planning, it would have tools to track/plan time, projects and priorities.  For example, I have grouped my list of projects and tasks according to whether it’s a creative project (creating a photo album or learning a new piece of music), or something leisure (like reading a book or completing a collection of figures), or projects around the house (building shelves, painting, hanging lights).  

    Logistically speaking, for either set of these projects the ideal would be to have them linked to my calendar in a way that my calendar is aware of the project categories and the project priorities.  For example.  If I say I am going to work on my creative projects every Tuesday night from 8:00 to 10:00, then I would like my Outlook calendar to mark off that time and my creative time, and then be aware of my highest priority project, and the top three top priority tasks within that, and display it right on my calendar.

    For me, the same link between my calendar, my projects, and my tasks — and the priorities within them — would be fantastic to have at work as well.  I could schedule all my phone calls and followup emails in the morning, and all the mini-projects in the afternoon… and have all those things show up in an *integrated* calendar display.

    integration is really the tops for me — none of these projects is complex enough for Microsoft Project.  But adding together the volume of projects, and life gets complicated fast!  The separate outlook calendar and task list doesn’t really do much to alleviate how complicated that can all become.  Throw kids in the mix, and then it *really* gets complicated!

    By the way…  I’ve seen many time management books talk about categorizing your time and tasks into time blocks on your calendar.  I compare it to being in college — If I were in college looking at my task list, I would want my calendar to be aware of all my classes (appointments) and study times (another "kind" of appointment), and all the projects and tasks within *each* class.  And if I could see that all on the daily calendar view in a *connected* way — WOW!  Now that would be a connected life!  That would help me out *a lot*!

  25. Tyler B says:

    One more comment…  I also have two levels of project categories — the categories in Outlook are too flat… just one long list of categories.  And organizing that list of categories as it is today is crazy, like jumping through hoops.  To me the current category structure is less of true "categories" than a freeform list of keywords.  In order to organize my projects, tasks, calendar, emails, IMs, work documents, home documents, photos, etc.  I think it would help to be able to use a system of categories that would work the same, across the board.  

  26. AM says:

    1. Outlook is the only game in town for a lot of people (e.g. in the workplace).  If you need subtasks, you’re in a real bind.  Make subtasks opt-in (e.g. enable under options) if there is any controversy.  Subtasks are must-have.

    2. Outlook (and Project) already has flexible and customizable fields, sorting, grouping, and views.  These (in comb. with subtasks) should let people setup their favorite TM scheme (e.g. GTD).

    3. Rule-based formatting and icons (like in Excel and Project).

    4. Add the ‘place’ or ‘context’ idea (e.g. MLO).

  27. Jonathan Heikes says:

    Tasks and Sub-Tasks

    Linking Tasks, (i.e. when I finish a task the next linked task pops up on the Outlook Today page and on the list of daily tasks)

    More Priority levels. From day one this has been a huge problem. Can it be so hard to go from 3 levels of priority to 5 or 6 or 10. I don’t think the reason people don’t use tasks is visibility. Its because tasks don’t give enough flexibility.

  28. chad says:

    I haven’t read all of the comments hear, but agree with many i’ve read.  Something i would like to see is a Totalling column/add on to outlook today or something….so, for example when i’ve organized all of my tasks, with TOTAL WORK specified for each, i could look at how many total hours they add up to, kind of like the way you can do a SUM in a sharepoint list.

    -c

  29. DJ says:

    PROJECTS and SUBTASKS!

    ’nuff said.

  30. Why don’t you just look at MLO and Achieve Planner and see what each of them does best. There isn’t really any need to re-invent the wheel! These guys are already WAY AHEAD of you. Better still why not take them on and get them to help you redesign Outlook to be a proper personal project/task life management system – these guys deserve to make some money out of what they have created!

  31. By the way, Michael Linenberger who wrote "Total Workday Control" (Using Microsoft Outlook) strongly advocates only using three levels of priority. His experience shows that if you use any more than this, you start to spend more time working your priorities than is necessary and it becomes counter productive.

    On the other hand MLO (the My Life Organised application) has a slider for importance, so you just set this at an intuitive level… is another interesting approach with infinite level of prioritisation. Though that does cause a problem in syncing with Outlook’s 3 levels.

  32. Aside from my comments above, what I would like to see in Outlook would be:

    1. Proper Hierarchical Task List, where you can set items as Projects, Goals and Sub-Projects etc.  With as many levels of task hierarchy as you need.

    2. Notes in tasks that have much more formatting, and/or can directly show/edit a linked OneNote page. (I’d like to see Outlook and OneNote completely integrated into one package personally).

    3. Task dependancy, abile to set any project/task so all sub tasks have to be done in order, and only appear on the to-do list when the previous one is complete.

    4. Ability to add up task time estimates – and compare with free calendar time over a  selected period (usually a week when you are planning the week ahead). This could be for much longer periods with a filtering system of tasks, so for instance showing the next three months with all high priority work tasks within the availability set for the work calendar. This would show where planned due dates will be late, so you can shift stuff out to fit. The main purpose of this would be to plan stuff realistically and answer questions like: "What can I actually get done this week" or "When could I realistically start this new project without upsetting high priority work" or "if I fit this project in here, what other projects will it push back."

    5. Properly sync Tasks between Outlook and Project… why can’t we do this? It seems crazy that you need some kind of Project Pro Super Size for Bloat Inc. running via Exchange with web access to then sync to Outlook. Surely for every desktop user whether a one man band or in a huge organisation, Outlook should be dashboard for all the "stuff you gotta do" including the work tasks that are assigned to you from Project.

  33. James says:

    I have read the above comments with interest, however I would like to suggest a different improvement that could be made with outlook (unfortunately this will not help the above problems).

    Often small tasks arrive via the "in box" which may require a question being sent to someone else, or notes to be taken if not all information is available when the request/task is initiated. What would be fantastic in Outlook is if there could be the option of having a "Central Node", essentially in the format of an email (or To Do item), that has links to the emails received and sent. These links would also appear in your copy of the received/sent email. To make it more intuitive these links should probably be able to be created via a drag and drop style method.

    While it is possible to achieve a similar outcome with categories, this can get messy, especially with a large number of small tasks each with 3-4 emails/actions.

    On a separate note, having drop down tabs within outlook simialr to those in Lotus Notes would make it a lot easier to have additional information, which may only be needed by some people included in an email without the information taking up an inordinate amount of space and distracting from the whatever the message may be.

  34. Mikhail says:

    Andrew!

    you must be mad!!!

    who is going to buy MS Project than?