Are you using OneNote / Outlook / Getting Things Done? You should–for whatever you do!

These days I have no choice but to become more efficient at how I do things. As readers of this blog can tell from my recent post history, my level of commitments and responsibilities have increased exponentially over the last couple of months and the amount of time I have for getting things done has decreased. So, as any rational person in this situation would do, I took about 20 hours of my time and devoted it to ignoring my “task list” and improving my time and project management skills in adapting my own systems and processes to use more efficient tools than I had been using. In other words, I took two steps backwards in the hopes that it will lead to at least five steps forward – and I think it will. So I would like to share with you a little bit of what I’ve learned along the way.

Getting Things Done

First, you need to read the book Getting Thing Done by David Allen. A couple of years ago I read this book from cover to cover and found to be incredibly helpful. Since that time I’ve referred to it here and there but decided I needed to read it again. So I did — and it made more sense this time than it did the first. So get the book and read it a couple of times and figure out how to implement those techniques in your life and I promise you, you will not regret it.

OneNote

Second, if you are a PC user make sure you have Microsoft OneNote. I have had it for years but have been too ignorant to even try using it. I really can’t find a “softer” way of putting it than that — I just didn’t know what I had available right at my fingertips and what I was missing. I thought it was virtually the same thing as Evernote (which is a great too in its own right) but I sure was mistaken. Then, about a week ago I was experimenting with OneNote and decided to do a little Internet research on how other people have been using it. I found a great post by Bruce Olson entitled  The trial lawyer’s electronic notebook and, as you can imagine, being a “technology lawyer” and a “trial lawyer”, that title really struck a chord with me! The title has nothing on the substance of the article and the ways in which Olson describes using OneNote. Read the article — after I read it (twice) I was convinced that OneNote just may be the best tool ever developed for lawyers.

GTD + OneNote + Outlook

Then I decided I would get fancy and see how people were using the GTD system with OneNote and Outlook combined to try and capture the power of all three of these great tools into one system. There are several great articles on the Internet to talk about this and there is even an Outlook plug-in for GTD but I have not gotten that far … yet. Though I may at some point. For now, however, my head is still spinning thinking of all the possibilities for how I can use this system without the plugin. Of all of the articles that I read, there were two that really helped me to implement my own system which is basically derived from with these authors talk about: (1) Aref’s article entitled Getting GTD’ish with Microsoft Outlook 2010 and, the most helpful (and thorough) of all, (2) Michael Wheatfill’s blog GTD with Outlook 2010 and OneNote 2010 (this is a 6 part series).

As I mentioned earlier, my head is still spinning with the possibilities for how I can use these tools to be more effective and efficient at what I do. I am just at the beginning of the journey and will continue to experiment, study, and learn as I go so please, by all means, if you have ideas or knowledge of how this all works, please share them with the rest of us in the comments below. Until then, I am off to spend more time working with a really innovative new practice management software we are considering called MyCase – Social Practice Managment. Sounds pretty interesting, doesn’t it!

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