Outlook is my primary window for social networks (Twitter and Facebook), my News Aggregator, and my email client for POP3, IMAP, and HTML mail services. I am not running an exchange server, however I do use the Outlook Connector from Microsoft to bring in my Hotmail account. Gmail is brought in as an IMAP folder rather than POP mail to keep the PST file Outlook uses smaller. POP mail from my ISP is pretty standard and needs no explanation.
Outgoing items to Twitter and Facebook are enabled with two add-ins from TechHit; TwInbox and FBlook. I however prefer to get the updates from Facebook friends and my tweeps in Outlook as a message so I can use organise them properly, and automate them as much as possible. To get the status updates from your friends as a message, you need to use these instructions to get an RSS feed for Facebook. TwInbox put the tweets in a separate folder as a note so nothing else is needed at this stage of the game.
Speaking of RSS feeds, I use IE8 for browsing for many reasons but an added perk is when I find a feed I want to subscribe to, it is automatically added to the feed list in Outlook when I subscribe in IE.
In my previous post, I made passing mention to Note2Self, my mobile capture on the Blackberry. It has become my “ubiquitous capture device.” With it I can record a voice message and the program emails it to me. This allows me to capture on the fly and be sure that all of my ideas (mind clutter mostly!) is in a single place.
Most of my non-electronic inputs (read snail mail) usually hits one of my physical inboxes, but surprisingly, very little of it is immediately actionable. Most of it is recurring items, the reminders for which are already set up either as tasks or as appointments.
As each monthly item (bills are a good example of this) came in I entered it as a recurring monthly task with a due date and a start date (a week before it comes due) and gave it two categories, @Computer and Bills. The paper bill goes into the “outstanding bills” folder in my vertical file folder on my desk until I actually make the payment. Credit card statements go here too as they need to be paid. Bank account statements go into the “reconciling” folder with a task set to “reconcile statements in quicken” as that recurring task with similar categories. Automatic withdrawals are set up as all day events on my calendar categorized as “Bills” rather than tasks as they require no action on my part, although if finances are tight you might want to consider including a task to check balances a few days before each one comes due so you have a reminder. Everything else is either reference, and filed in the filing cabinet, or recycling and filed in that box.
This pretty much covers the things that are “pushed” to me. For the things I need to “pull” I set a recurring task to “download XXX and process,” and give it appropriate categories. For example my kids monthly school calendar, which tells me when there is no school, early dismissal, etc, etc, is posted online only. I also use a reminder task to “get so and so’s schedule”
if I need to have it entered on my calendar for information purposes.
(Yeah , yeah, I know. Technically when I am processing a “pull” action I am actually executing a next action, but the only difference between that and “pure capture” is that I don’t have a recurring daily task that says “open mail.” Besides, the end result is more projects, next actions and reference material, so I am including it in the capture section.)
So now most, but not all (I still mess up and think “I’ll remember that!” but forget it moments after I think it.) of the information I use and read over the course of a day is in one place. Next, organising and automating.