Lean GTD 2007

Back in 2006, I created a set of Outlook macros supporting David Allen’s Gettings Things Done (GTD) methodology, since the original GTD Outlook Add-in didn’t work for Outlook 2007 back then. Here‘s my post from 2006 on that. Recently, a new version of the add-in has been published, which works for Outlook 2007, but since my macros worked so much better for me than the original add-in (and due to the significant price tag of the add-in) I don’t consider switching back.

Instead, I keep developing my macros, and publish them on this page for anyone to download. I intend to update them with new functionality as long as it can be considered “lean”, that is, it won’t contain any complex functionality, just the little things that make the most difference when you’re using GTD with Outlook 2007. And it shouldn’t be geared towards a specific way of using it, but I guess I’m biased anyway. :-) Another important design consideration that I won’t drop is that it should be possible to synchronize everything to a mobile device and further to a second computer, without losing information about your GTD system.

A quick overview of the macro package is that it installs a menu bar with four buttons: “Next Action”, “Act on Item”, “Schedule Item” and “All Day”.  The first one creates a task and prompts for a category (but inherits categories if a task is already selected), the second creates a task out of an item (email or any other item) and prompts for categories, the third one makes a calendar item out of an item (email or any other item), and the last one helps you with creating an all day event without a reminder. You get support for your “@Waiting For” actions automatically (read the manual in the file!), and also for all day actions. Try it out, it’s completely free!

This version of the macros only works with Outlook 2007, and I haven’t tried it with Office 2010. Please tell me if you have tried it (you need to change the version check in the code in that case) and it works. Or if it doesn’t.

Included in the package are installation instructions, user manual and change log.

So, finally, here comes the code. Comments and suggestions for improvements are welcome! I’ll post updates on my main blog.

Download LeanGTD2007.bas

Update 2010-06-19: bgbuffalo reported that he couldn’t get the macros to work with Outlook 2010, which I don’t have. Thanks! We worked together to find a solution to this: I’ve commented two lines in the code that should be removed in order to get this to work. The backside is that you won’t get email attachments to tasks and appointments, only the text itself. But those disappear in sync anyway, so that’s not such a big issue. So if you want to use the macros with Outlook 2010, remove those two lines. (Search for “Outlook 2010″.)

24 Responses

  1. Just fixed so that the “All Day” button gets its date either from a selected appointment, or in case none is selected, from the first day in the current view. Or the current date, if the calendar isn’t visible.

  2. Thanks! These macros are perfect for my needs.

  3. Thanks, I’m happy that you like them! :-)

  4. Thanks. wonderful tool. How can I add Keyboard shortcuts to these buttons to further speedup my GTD worksflow?

  5. Thanks! The keyboard shortcuts are already there, actually, but they may or not collide with some other shortcut in your Outlook. Look at what letter is underlined in the button text. If you can’t see it, try to press “Alt” first. If you need to change the shortcut, you just need to change in the code where the “&” is placed in the button text.

  6. I’m curious to know if this is still working or is outdated for you. Are you still using this successfully? What works, what has it’s sticking points for you?

  7. Yep, I’m still using it! I haven’t found any better solution for handling my tasks and calendar, although I’m always looking around , especially now that I’m looking at other phones than Windows ones.

    I just haven’t found any major points for improvement, except perhaps that my keyboard shortcuts always collide with some plugins that I install. Except for that, things are working smoothly for me!

    You can always tell me if you have any suggestions.

  8. thanks. What do you use for your project lists, brainstorming, etc.? I thought of using oneNote and Outlook but I have the concern that I would have to use Windows phones as well… so I’m debating with myself whether to go that route or not. Outlook is very robust but seems that it may be slow. A lot of people favor just using paper.

  9. I’m using a task category “Projects” in Outlook for my project list, and in the notes field of those tasks I can store any nontrivial project plans. I’ve got some plans on paper, too, and those are either in their own folders, or in a folder “Project support”.

    I started using OneNote for project support, but for some reason I never look there, so apparently it doesn’t work for me. Lots of my stuff still is on paper.

    For brainstorming I have used MindJet MindManager, but I’m sure that some free alternatives are as good.

    I think Outlook is good enough; I prefer functionality and stability over quickness. Perhaps if Google Tasks get a bit more mature, I’ll buy an Android phone and do it all online. But I think I’ll miss my macros then, unless the tasks with mail integration gets really smooth!

    • Thanks for your quick response!
      Possible alternatives to meet the mobile phone needs that we can look into. (It would be nice to have the option of using other phones)
      Remember the Milk – it integrates with gmail, google tasks, calendar, etc. Haven’t used it but will try it.
      Google Apps – you can work with it instead of Microsoft Exchange so you can use Outlook with it as well. Don’t know if it will work with mobile but I just read that “Google Apps gains remote admin controls for mobile” so it might.
      http://news.zdnet.co.uk/communications/0,1000000085,40022670,00.htm

  10. Hi Thomas, thank you very much for your macro. It is very useful, helpful, simple and genial ;-)

  11. Just upgraded to Outlook 2010. The macro installs and the 4 buttons show up on the “add-ins” tab of the ribbon. Two of them, “next action” and “all day” open up a new task or appointment, but the text of the email are not carried into the new windows. “Act on item” and “schedule” bring up error message “8004010f object could not be found”.

    Clicking on debug brings you to “newTask.Attachments.Add selectedItem” and ” newAppointment.Attachments.Add selectedItem” respectively. Unfortunately my knowledge of VB is nil, hopefully it is a simple fix. I had been using the macro regularly.

    • Thanks for reporting this. I haven’t yet upgraded to Outlook 2010, so probably some changes are needed. I’ll look into this to see if I can make some changes based upon the documentation only. Perhaps I can send my attempts to you for testing?

  12. [...] Outlook 2010 Posted on June 20, 2010 by Thomas Drakengren Reader bgbuffalo was so kind to point out that my macro package for simplifying GTD with Outlook 2007, Lean GTD 2007, didn’t work with [...]

  13. [Deleted comment. Updated comment below! /Thomas]

  14. Splendid, thanks a lot, that wasn’t easy to realize! I’ll take the time to integrate this into the macros as soon as possible. I need to look at the accelerator keys too; they don’t seem to work either. Probably I’m using an outdated method for those…

    • Outlook2010 changed so much compared to outlook 2002/2007 that I had used. The commandbar that you used is no longer supported after 2010 so i guess the accelerator buttons went with it. 2 weeks ago, Microsoft launched the Outlook365 (online cloud based stuff) which is in beta stage and free for all to use at the moment. I am guessing Outlook2010 days are numbered too ….

  15. Sorry thomas my fault, i missed copying two lines of code. Please delete the earlier commend. This commend contains the correct codes

    I have completed my own routines and got some time to install the LeanGTD2007. I have made some small changes to enable it to work for 2010.
    The issue was the obscure bug attachment.add method which works in 2007 but broke in 2010. This bug went undocumented and was supposed to be fixed in outlook service pack 1 (but it’s still there). I had to dig this information up after several deep google searches.

    Anyway, 2010 users should just install the downloaded LeanGTD2007.bas, ignore the message during installation that this will only works on 2007. After installation, you will see in the addin tab the 4 commands buttons. Click on each of them in turn and when it broke, click debug and add in these code. For example, the Act on item command button fails at this line newTask.Attachments.Add selectedItem
    Replace that line with these codes. What it does is to save the item you selected onto the system temporary folder, then allows itself to be added to the new task. (jargon for programmers)…..The Microsoft bug does not allow outlook items to be added correctly, even when the method shows no bug

    Dim strTempPath As String
    Dim strPath As String
    ‘Use the user computer /TEMP location to store attachments found in mails
    strTempPath = Environ(“TEMP”)
    strPath = strTempPath & “\testmsg.msg”
    selectedItem.SaveAs strPath, olMSG
    newTask.Attachments.Add strPath, Outlook.olEmbeddeditem, 1, selectedItem.subject

    ‘newTask.Attachments.Add selectedItem

    Take note, if you copy and paste the codes above, some browsers will change the single quote ‘ and doublequotes ” to something else and cause it to fail in your outlook debug, just retype it (the correct single and double quote is on the left of the return key)

    Repeat the same process with the command button schedule Item with the replacement codes below

    Dim strTempPath As String
    Dim strPath As String
    ‘Use the user computer /TEMP location to store attachments found in mails
    strTempPath = Environ(“TEMP”)
    strPath = strTempPath & “\testmsg.msg”
    selectedItem.SaveAs strPath, olMSG

    newAppointment.Attachments.Add strPath, Outlook.olEmbeddeditem, 1, selectedItem.subject

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