Ripping Off I Done This Journalling with Day One

One of my New Years resolutions was to start journalling. The daily practice of writing is widely considered to improve one’s psychological well being but my main reason for starting a diary relates to my absolutely appalling memory which would have less power to rob me of exciting experiences if I had a journal to glance over.

I didn’t intend spending hours with a quill and leather bound notepad, penning a diary of great literary worth. In fact my initial resolution said I was to spend 5 mins jotting notes with the latest app du jour – IDoneThis.

I Done This is a great idea, it started as an email based work productivity tool – teams would be emailed at the end of each day with the question “What did you do today?” It can be a great management tool so you can unobtrusively keep in touch with progress but it also encourages a shift in focus towards a more Get Things Done attitude.

IDoneThis iPhone app for getting things doneI Done This have translated the concept to a free iPhone app which allows you to achieve similar benefits on a personal level. I’ve been using it since the beginning of the year and it has invaded my life in a very positive way. I’m ticking tasks off and starting the day thinking what do I want to achieve today – what do I want to add to the “I Done This” list?

The downside with I Done This is its lack of visual appeal and portability of data. It’s a beautifully simple app that does the job required of it but I have a weakness for apps that offer at least as much style as substance, and this one just doesn’t excite me. The biggest draw back for me though is the lack of a dropbox sync feature, or other means to extract the data I’ve entered. I don’t like the idea of investing days, months or years into a single app that I become effectively locked into.

It may be that I’m doing the app a disservice, it does sync to the IDoneThis website and although I haven’t explored this, its quite possible that I could export my data from here. Its not intuitive enough though, so primed by multiple blog reviews singing the praises of Day One, I went off to investigate.

It’s not a fair comparison, but in contrast, Day One is a beautiful app that flows seamlessly across all your mac gadgetry. It is by far and away the most adept journal app available for mac.

Day One journalling app for getting things doneBecause of it’s tagging functionality, Day One can handle all of your logging requirements so it doesn’t have to function as a one dimensional personal diary. The Day One blog features multiple uses for the journal such as travel journal, ideas journal, reading log, research journal etc.

I’ve set up an “IDT” tag as a direct rip from IDoneThis and capture daily bullet points of achievements worthy of mention. It’s a low demand way to start journalling with no pressure to write anything too worthy. It does encourage you get things done though. I don’t want to open the app at 8pm and struggle to populate even the first bullet point.

Now that I’ve been doing this for nearly 2 months I’ve developed the journalling habit and my list of tags are spiralling.

I just wish I’d started this earlier.

Outlook 2007 – Creating Search Folders for Combined Categories

I’ve recently gone down the route of setting up my Outlook email system for use with the getting things done (GTD) methodology. This means I work to a zero inbox and have limited context based folders such as @ACTION, @REFERENCE, @READ. I have been religiously categorising my mail before assigning to the reference pile and using Search folders in place of my previous system of dragging the email into a sub-sub-folder that never proved to be the right one when I came to look for it again.

The beauty of the categorise and Search Folder functionality is that I can apply multiple categories to a single email and I no longer have to decide whether to file my email in the “Wandsworth” folder or the “SLA” folder. If I assign it both categories, it will appear in my search folder under both categories.

I wanted to set up a few search folders that would enable me to view emails that were categorised in more than one specific folder using the logical “AND” rather than “OR” that the system defaults to. For example, it is the commissioning period at the moment and it would be handy for me to have a few search folders set up for the next month or so that group together emails categorised as 2010 SLA and a specific borough.

My initial attempts at using the custom search folder dialog box and entering the instruction “1a. Wandsworth AND 3a. SLA 1011” in the “More Choices” tab did not work as it was presumably looking for a single category. I did a bit of a google search and didn’t find anything very promising so having found a solution I thought it might be useful to write it up.

  1. Create a new Search Folder by right clicking on Search Folder and selecting New.
  2. Scroll down to the bottom and select Create a Custom Search Folder and then hit Choose
  3. Give it a name and then hit Criteria
  4. Within the Advanced tab set the field to equal Categories (it’s in the frequently used drop down)
  5. Leave the condition as contains
  6. Write your category names separated by “AND” in the Value field.
  7. Hit “Add to list”
  8. OK your way out of the dialog box and you should have a functioning multiple category search folder.

Instructions for Setting up Outlook 2007 for GTD

I’m moving to a new job soon and wanted to take the opportunity to set up the new email system in line with GTD (Getting Things Done) methodology.

Here’s my checklist for setting up the new system on Outlook 2007.
Most tips and code are taken from Simon Guest over at Simon Says but I’ve amended the code (very slightly) to suit my particular needs and naming conventions. For further details and descriptions please follow the links to his blog where I’ve listed them.

1. Create Folders at same level as Inbox

  • @ACTION REQD
  • @MEETINGS
  • @READ
  • @REFERENCE
  • @PERSONAL
  • @WAITING FOR

2. Create Macro for categorising and assigning email as task:

To create a new task from an email, select the email, run the NewTask macro, choose categories and at least one @CATEGORY, in my case @ACTION. Then you can choose to rename the subject title – this will become the new task.

    Function FileFolderEntryId() As StringDim myolApp As Outlook.Application
    Dim myNamespace As Outlook.NameSpace
    Dim myInbox As Outlook.Folder
    Dim rootFolder As Outlook.Folder
    Dim subFolders As Outlook.Folders
    Dim subFolder As Outlook.Folder
    Dim fileFolder As Outlook.Folder
    Dim fileEntryID As String
    Dim fileFolderName As String

    ‘Set the folder name – must be at the same level as the inbox
    fileFolderName = “@ACTION REQD”

    ‘ Move the the file folder
    Set myolApp = CreateObject(“Outlook.Application”)
    Set myNamespace = myolApp.GetNamespace(“MAPI”)
    Set myInbox = myNamespace.GetDefaultFolder(olFolderInbox)
    Set rootFolder = myInbox.Parent
    Set subFolders = rootFolder.Folders

    Set subFolder = subFolders.GetFirst
    Do While Not subFolder Is Nothing
    If subFolder.Name = fileFolderName Then
    fileEntryID = subFolder.EntryID
    Exit Do
    End If
    Set subFolder = subFolders.GetNext
    Loop

    ‘ return the entry ID for the file folder
    FileFolderEntryId = fileEntryID

    End Function

    Sub NewTask()

    Dim item As MailItem
    Dim myolApp As Outlook.Application
    Dim myNamespace As Outlook.NameSpace
    Dim fileFolder As Outlook.Folder
    Dim newName As String

    ‘ Pick the category
    Set item = Outlook.Application.ActiveExplorer.Selection.item(1)

    ‘ Mark as unread
    item.UnRead = False
    item.Save
    item.ShowCategoriesDialog

    ‘validate to see whether two categories exist, including an action
    If (item.Categories <> “”) Then
    If (InStr(item.Categories, “@”) > 0) Then
    If (InStr(item.Categories, “,”) > 0) Then

    ‘ Set the follow up flag
    item.MarkAsTask (olMarkNoDate)

    ‘ Move the item to the file folder
    Set myolApp = CreateObject(“Outlook.Application”)
    Set myNamespace = myolApp.GetNamespace(“MAPI”)
    Set fileFolder = myNamespace.GetFolderFromID(FileFolderEntryId())

    ‘ Ask for a different name if required
    newName = InputBox(“Please enter a subject for the task:”, “Task Subject”, item.TaskSubject)
    item.TaskSubject = newName
    item.Save

    item.Move fileFolder
    End If
    End If
    End If
    End Sub

3. Create a rule that will send a email from me and cc’d to me as @WAITING FOR category and file

This is a way of keeping track of requests you’ve sent out in the @WAITING FOR folder.


4. Create a macro that will categorise and send mail to the @REFERENCE Folder

    Sub ToReferenceAndCategorise()

    Dim item As MailItem
    Dim myolApp As Outlook.Application
    Dim myNamespace As Outlook.NameSpace
    Dim myInbox As Outlook.Folder
    Dim rootFolder As Outlook.Folder
    Dim subFolders As Outlook.Folders
    Dim subFolder As Outlook.Folder
    Dim fileFolder As Outlook.Folder
    Dim fileEntryID As String
    Dim fileFolderName As String

    ‘Set the folder name – must be at the same level as the inbox
    fileFolderName = “@REFERENCE”

    ‘ Pick the category
    Set item = Outlook.Application.ActiveExplorer.Selection.item(1)
    item.ShowCategoriesDialog

    ‘ Move the the file folder
    Set myolApp = CreateObject(“Outlook.Application”)
    Set myNamespace = myolApp.GetNamespace(“MAPI”)
    Set myInbox = myNamespace.GetDefaultFolder(olFolderInbox)
    Set rootFolder = myInbox.Parent
    Set subFolders = rootFolder.Folders

    Set subFolder = subFolders.GetFirst
    Do While Not subFolder Is Nothing
    If subFolder.Name = fileFolderName Then
    fileEntryID = subFolder.EntryID
    Set fileFolder = myNamespace.GetFolderFromID(fileEntryID)
    item.Move fileFolder

    Exit Do
    End If
    Set subFolder = subFolders.GetNext
    Loop

    End Sub

5. Repeat above for Categorise and send to @Waiting For Folder

6. Create a macro that will categorise and send mail to the @READ Folder

This is the same as above but I want to include it under my task list, which I have sorted by folder, so I also include a routine to add a no date follow up flag.

    Sub ToReadAndCategorise()

    Dim item As MailItem
    Dim myolApp As Outlook.Application
    Dim myNamespace As Outlook.NameSpace
    Dim myInbox As Outlook.Folder
    Dim rootFolder As Outlook.Folder
    Dim subFolders As Outlook.Folders
    Dim subFolder As Outlook.Folder
    Dim fileFolder As Outlook.Folder
    Dim fileEntryID As String
    Dim fileFolderName As String

    ‘Set the folder name – must be at the same level as the inbox
    fileFolderName = “@READ”

    ‘ Pick the category
    Set item = Outlook.Application.ActiveExplorer.Selection.item(1)
    item.ShowCategoriesDialog

    ‘ Set the follow up flag
    item.MarkAsTask (olMarkNoDate)

    ‘ Move the the file folder
    Set myolApp = CreateObject(“Outlook.Application”)
    Set myNamespace = myolApp.GetNamespace(“MAPI”)
    Set myInbox = myNamespace.GetDefaultFolder(olFolderInbox)
    Set rootFolder = myInbox.Parent
    Set subFolders = rootFolder.Folders

    Set subFolder = subFolders.GetFirst
    Do While Not subFolder Is Nothing
    If subFolder.Name = fileFolderName Then
    fileEntryID = subFolder.EntryID
    Set fileFolder = myNamespace.GetFolderFromID(fileEntryID)
    item.Move fileFolder

    Exit Do
    End If
    Set subFolder = subFolders.GetNext
    Loop

    End Sub

7. Create a macro that will create Task and Mail Search Folders

    Sub CreateNewSearchFolder()

    Set MyOutlookApplication = Outlook.Application
    SearchSubFolders = True
    Set MapiNamespace = Application.GetNamespace(“MAPI”)
    Set TasksFolder = MapiNamespace.GetDefaultFolder(Outlook.OlDefaultFolders.olFolderTasks).Parent
    strS = “‘” & TasksFolder.FolderPath & “‘”

    Dim folderName As String
    folderName = InputBox(“What category would you like to create a search folder for?:”, “Category”, “”)
    Dim objSch As Search
    Dim categoryFilter As String
    categoryFilter = “(“”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office#Keywords”” LIKE ‘%” & folderName & “%’)”
    Dim taskFilter As String
    taskFilter = “(“”http://schemas.microsoft.com/mapi/proptag/0x0e05001f””= ‘Tasks’ AND “”http://schemas.microsoft.com/mapi/id/{00062003-0000-0000-C000-000000000046}/81010003″” <> 2) OR (NOT(“”http://schemas.microsoft.com/mapi/proptag/0x10900003″” IS NULL) AND “”http://schemas.microsoft.com/mapi/id/{00062003-0000-0000-C000-000000000046}/81010003″” <> 2)”
    Dim strTag As String
    strTag = “RecurSearch”

    ‘ Create the tasks folder
    Set objSch = Application.AdvancedSearch(Scope:=strS, Filter:=categoryFilter & ” AND (” + taskFilter + “)”, _
    SearchSubFolders:=True, Tag:=strTag)
    objSch.Save (folderName)

    ‘ Create the mail folder
    Set objSch = Application.AdvancedSearch(Scope:=strS, Filter:=categoryFilter, _
    SearchSubFolders:=True, Tag:=strTag)
    objSch.Save (folderName & ” (Mail)”)

    End Sub

8. Create custom toolbars for the above macros

  • Right click on toolbar – Customise
  • Select commands tab the Macro on Left
  • Drag desired macro to toolbar
  • Right click on macro button and rename and assign keyboard shortcut if necessary (you need to do this with the customise box still open)

9. Introduce colouring to organise selected folders

  • Go to Tools> Organize and complete the following steps:
  • select Using Colours
  • Change “Colour messages from [you] in Silver”
  • Apply Colour
  • Turn on the “Show messages sent only to me in Blue”

10. Panic if new job doesn’t use Outlook 2007

Alternatively I could start working through some tips for using Outlook 2003 for GTD, starting here.

I am still a little bemused as to how to deal with SENT items in Outlook, I’ve seen macros directing all sent items back into the inbox to be categorised and filed but I would prefer the category dialog box to pop up when I press send.  I’ve currently set up a lot of rules which apply categories on the basis of who I have sent them to but it is not foolproof.