Using the PlanPlus Plugin for Outlook
This page overviews the FranklinCovey PlanPlus plugin for Outlook. I have used this plugin successfully to help me manage my time, just as I have with the GTD-Addin. They are both great aids for managing time. The two products take two entirely different approaches to helping you manage time. Which of the two would work best for you depends on which of the two approaches best suites your time management style. If you are an avid Getting Things Done (GTD) fan, you'll probably do better with the GTD Add-in. If you are a FranklinCovey fan, you'll may do better with the PlanPlus plugin, although you can also implement GTD with PlanPlus.
Note that the PlanPlus plugin has recently been updated to work with Outlook 2007 and with Vista. I have only tried it out on Outlook 2003, as I plan to stay with Outlook 2003 for a while longer. Also, FranklinCovey offers an online version of PlanPlus. I have not personally tried it out.
Note also that PlanPlus comes with a free copy of Pocket Informant 2007, which does a Great Job of syncing with the Task Views, Project View, and Daily Notes portions of the PlanPlus plugin. PlanPlus also includes free tools for syncing Palm devices with the plugin, and even supports syncing the Compass, Mission and Values, and Goals, in addition to syncing with the Task Views, Project Views, and Daily Notes. I have tried the sync tools out on my Pocket PCs and my Palm TX, and the syncing works great in all cases.
PlanPlus turns Outlook into an electronic FranklinCovey-style planning tool, complete with tools for Weekly Planning, Goal Setting, Weekly Compass, Mission and Values, Project Management, and Daily Notes, and also providing, of course, a day-at-a-glance view.
I'll cover a few of the views herein to illustrate some of the plugin's capabilities. Note that, if you download a trial of the plugin, I recommend creating a System Restore Point in XP before installing the plugin, so that you can return to the Restore Point in case you do not want to keep the plugin. Many Outlook plugins do not uninstall completely (which is the case with the PlanPlus plugin and the GTD Add-in)
The following screenshot shows the Weekly Compass view with Outlook on my computer. As you can see, it has a "Sharpen the Saw" section and a section where you can add your own roles. For each of your Roles, you can add as many "Big Rocks" to the Compass as you would like. I've always liked the Compass aspect of the FranklinCovey system, as it helps you systematically consider each of your roles in your weekly planning process.
The Projects element of the plugin helps you plan and stay on top of your projects. Clicking here shows a screenshot that lets you see add existing tasks to a project. You can also add new tasks directly from within the Project View. If you change the date of a task, the task date is changed throughout the system (for example, if you move a task to a week later, it will show up in that week's week-at-a-glance view). You can also indent (or outdent) tasks to reflect task relationships. Pocket PC and Palm users will like the fact that this syncs perfectly into Pocket Informant 2007 and into the FranklinCovey Palm apps.
And, of course, the plugin is designed to help in your task management and planning with a Task View. Clicking here shows a screenshot that shows one of the task scheduling tools (there is another tool that will also help you to quickly prioritize tasks). Within this view, you can show all of your Master Task List, or a specific Category of tasks (such as @Computer). You can drag a task to a specific day, or drag a scheduled task back to the Master Task List if you change your mind about scheduling it. Of course, you can also open the task and use the menus within the Outlook Task View to assign a Start Date, Due Date, or Category.
As I indicated earlier, I have used this plugin successfully to help me manage my time. My reason for writing about it here is not to sell you on it, but to let you know some of what it can do so you can determine if it might be useful for you.
March 4, 2007
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