GTD – Using the David Allen Outlook PDF with Outlook 2007

On the Davidco website in the Products section they offer a PDF file called “GTD and Outlook” that describes, funny enough, how to implement your lists, etc in Outlook if you’re implementing GTD.

The website states that the document was really designed for Outlook 2003 and they stress

*NOTE* This current document is NOT yet compatible with Outlook 2007.

I’m here to tell you that with minor tweaks it works just fine with Outlook 2007.

Action List Manager

This section basically works as-is. One difference is the section that discusses customizing your master category list. In Outlook 2007 there is no “master category list” per se. It is just called Categories. It serves the same purpose but the implementation under the covers is different, and better. In this section of the document you simply need to bring up a new task as stated in the directions but you then select Categorize in the ribbon and then select All Categories. Then simply follow the same instructions given in the paper to set up your categories.

There is a task “speed key” that they describe of -g to open the master category list. In Outlook 2007 the equivalent is first -h followed by g. Key Tips and badges (as they are called) are described here.

One other section that is a bit different to set up in Outlook 2007 is where they describe having your task list display next to your daily calendar. The “Arrange by” menu mentioned is gone. Current View for the Calendar has its own menu now and TaskPad has been replaced by the To-Do Bar. So…to restructure their instructions (while on the calendar display):

  1. View->Current View->Day/Week/Month
  2. View->To-Do Bar
    • select Normal
    • select Date Navigator
    • select Task List

Using the Calendar

This section is exactly the same. It really discusses more how GTD has you use your calendar vs. anything about Outlook.

Organizing Email

Same as above. This is more about what to do with email vs. Outlook-specific items.

Useful Lists/Notes

The only difference here are the menu changes in Outlook 2007. Outlook 2007 has View->Current View and View-Arrange By as two separate menus. Also, instead of Categories in the menu that is accessed in a note by clicking on the icon in the upper-left portion of the note you will see Categorize. Easy.

Final Words

As can been seen the changes, as they relate to the “GTD and Outlook” document, are slight. Really there are just some menu changes that have been made between Outlook 2003 and Outlook 2007. The core functionality is the same (or better in 2007) and from what I can tell all of the shortcut key combinations work as they did in Outlook 2003.

If you’re looking to see how David Allen’s company recommends using Outlook to implement GTD I highly recommend buying this PDF. It is only $10 and not only does it explain how to set up and use Outlook in the GTD system it is also a good mini-reference to GTD itself.

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