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Welcome to the September 1, 2009 Outlook Productivity Newsletter!

After a 2-month newsletter break, this month we have a very practical 5-Step Guide to the MYN Outlook Task System, and other tips and news. Scroll down or use the links at left to jump to any content.


Getting Started Webinar: Wednesday Sept 23, 2009 at 10 AM Pacific Time

4-Part Core System Webinar: Tuesday Sept 22 through Friday Sept 25, 2009, 1pm to 2pm Pacific Time each day

These popular webinars, taught live by the author, will help you get ahead of out-of-control e-mail and tasks. All Webinars include a free book and training CD. Click the links above to get pricing and content information, or to register.


I think you will find very useful this 5-step guide to the MYN Outlook task system. The simple management guide below summarize those steps you will take each day using the system taught in the book. Reviewing the steps below can be especially useful for any of you that may have drifted away from the system; if that’s you, use this summary to refresh your memory quickly, and get going again. Even new users may want to print this out and put it next to their computers as they read the book and start using the system. I think you will find this quite useful.

Before using these steps, make sure your Outlook TaskPad or To-Do Bar is configured per Lesson 3 in the 2nd edition of the book. You can use The Basic Config Self Training CD if you like, it gives you videos of how to do that. Or you can install the MYN Special Edition of ClearContext Outlook software add-in. Once your Outlook TaskPad or To-Do Bar is configured, it will look like the figure above-right. Then use the following 5 management steps:

STEP 1: Enter into the top task group, which are Outlook’s High-Priority tasks, your Critical-Now tasks only. These are tasks that absolutely must be done today (you would not leave the office if they were not done). This task group is normally quite small, just a few items, and you will be emptying this group every day as you complete those tasks. I would review this top group many times a day to ensure you complete them in time to leave work at a reasonable hour.

STEP 2: Use the middle task group, which are Outlook’s Normal-Priority tasks, for what I call Opportunity-Now tasks. These are tasks you would like to do either today or in the next week or so; you will work tasks off this list opportunistically. Scan the entire list at least once a day to make sure you do not overlook anything important. Keep this list to no more than 20 items so that it is easy to scan. If it gets larger than 20 items, move the least urgent tasks to the Low-Priority section (next).

STEP 3: Use the bottom task group (Outlook’s Low-Priority tasks) for what I call Over-the-Horizon tasks, tasks that can wait at least a week or longer to do. In the book I teach two ways of using this section. The simplest way is to just move tasks there and review the entire list once a week, looking for anything that has jumped in importance. However once this list gets too big to easily review it, then start using my Defer-to-Review approach (Lesson 9 of book 2nd Ed.) where you set the start date of each low-priority task to the future date you want to next review it, which could be months away for some tasks. This hides those until then, and keeps the list manageable.

STEP 4: Similarly, for any tasks in the High or Normal priority groups that you plan to do on a certain future date, set the start date accordingly and the task will be hidden until then. This is called Defer-to-Do in the MYN system.

STEP 5: And finally, as soon as you get an e-mail that has an action in it that you cannot or should not do immediately, drag that e-mail to the Tasks icon and convert it to a task; then prioritize it as above. Doing that consistently will remove tension from your Outlook Inbox and make the Inbox easy to clean; all tasks are managed in the task system.

That’s it! Thousands of users report that these simple steps (combined with the book Lesson 3 or ClearContext configurations) allow them to get control of their out-of-control workday and so greatly reduce their workday stress. There are of course lots of details behind each of these instructions, and the book or seminars can teach you those, so be sure to take a full study when you can.


In case you have not noticed, the book is now available in the Amazon Kindle format, and has been for a number of months. It is already the #1 best-selling Outlook Kindle book. So any Kindle owners should take a look. For those without a Kindle, maybe this is finally your reason to pick one up. The book is also available in Sony e-book format, which has the advantage of being readable on your PC with free reader software. The book is not currently available in any other e-book formats, at least not yet anyway; but that may change over time.



A software add-in has come to my attention that allows you to more easily manage and assign Outlook Categories. I have not tried the software and so cannot vouch for it, but my opinion is any tool that helps you use Outlook Categories should be considered. It includes tools that display a "Quick-Cats" pick list, and an enterprise version that allows you to manage categories across a group of users. You can find more information at this link.