Outlook As An Idealog

I tried different ways to keep track of ideas. I experiment with a few tools. I started with a simple Word document. I used a simple template and entered the idea. It had five fields:

– A name

– A brief description

– Date

– Inspired By

– Notes

I kept this up for a while. It worked fine. Then I found a personal wiki. I started entering list of ideas in a table format. I made a slight change. I would make the idea name a WikiWord (a wiki word is two words collapsed together, both capitalized). If you know about how wikis work, a WikiWord form a new page link and I can enter more information about ideas there.

More recently I switched back to using Outlook. I create a special folder and post to that folder. One of the nice things about Outlook is that you can insert items (email messages, files, calendar items etc.). I will try this for a while and see how it works out. Here are the reasons I use as an IdeaLog.

  1. Since it is my default email client, it is always open. So entering an idea is as easy as switching to Outlook and making a post in a special folder.
  2. Some of my ideas originate from the email I receive or something I read in a mailing list. I can simply link to this item using the Insert Item capability of outlook.
  3. I can assign tags to my idea using a Categories capability associated with every new post.
  4. I can easily mail an idea to my colleagues and it becomes the start of a discussion thread
  5. Ideas get archived along with my email. So I do not have to back up yet another file or folder
  6. I can schedule some time to think about some of the ideas using the calendar capability. All I need to do is to drag the idea, drop it on a calendar and set some time.
  7. I can set up reminders to take the next steps using the Task Manager in Outlook.

The real power in Outlook is the integration of all these capabilities. While I also use Yahoo Mail and Gmail, I do not find them as convenient (since they are not available when I am disconnected from the internet).

I just wish Outlook would support WikiWords ( introduce a page type called WikiPage in the setup). Life would be more fun. May be in Outlook 2007.

3 thoughts on “Outlook As An Idealog

  1. Dorai, is the only way to insert items into your special folder through the “insert item” command of Outlook? Seems kind of clunky. The Notes view of Outlook doesn’t seem to display the folder list, so a simple drag-and-drop seems to be out of the question.

  2. Chuck,
    You can drag and drop mail items into a folder (including special folders). I was talking about creating a new idea entry (similar to composing a new mail messsage). I use the drag and drop capability to add new tasks and calendar items. So if your idea is based on an email or notes, you can drag it and drop it in your special folder and edit it.

    The problem you talked about Notes exists with other items (contacts, task lists, etc.). I thought there was a way to treat special folders just like mail folders. I did a little digging in Outlook help and found this. It does work.

    Keep the Folder List as your main view
    If you switch to the Folder List view and then close Outlook, you will see the Folder List when you open Outlook again. However, if you navigate away from your current view by using one of the Navigation Pane buttons (rather than clicking a folder in the Folder List), the Navigation Pane view will revert to the default view with smaller panes related only to that view. Also, in the default view, your Inbox folders will not be visible in views other than the Mail view.


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