Dec 14, 2010
[UPDATE: Jul 7, 2014, the article below is for an older version of TouchDown. Please go to this link to see the newer version of this article.]
Outlook users who are using my Master Your (Workday) Now task management system (MYN)—if you have an Android phone or tablet, or are considering getting one, you are going to love this software called TouchDown.
TouchDown is an Android App that serves as a client of Microsoft Exchange Server. It takes your Exchange-based Outlook data (tasks, contacts, e-mail, calendar), and makes them all accessible in your Android phone or tablet.
And most importantly, TouchDown can easily be configured to show the MYN list format—the same format highlighted in my Outlook book Total Workday Control Using Microsoft Outlook, and in my new book Master Your Workday Now!
TouchDown also has an excellent e-mail client (to use instead of the Android e-mail client). Why would you want to replace your Android mail client? Because in TouchDown you can convert your e-mails into Exchange tasks! Not many e-mail applications offer that. You may recall that converting e-mails to tasks is my number one recommendation for getting control of e-mail—TouchDown makes that easy to do when on the run.
So this article is a quick overview of the App. But mostly it is about how to configure TouchDown’s tasks view to match the MYN TaskPad/To-Do Bar settings in my Outlook book (and others). That way you can get started using the software with MYN right away.
Downloading and Connecting
First, if you do not own TouchDown yet, the download gives you a free trial. When you go to download it off the Market, note that there are a few different selections for that App in the Android App Market. So you should read the following TouchDown guide to determine which app to download for your device. The guide then tells you how to connect the software to your Exchange server. Here’s the link:
Using and Configuring TouchDown Tasks
After downloading and connecting to your Exchange server, the first view you will see is a summary screen with recent unread email, upcoming appointments, and “active tasks” all on one screen (see below)
This view is a nice summary, but the tasks portion is not right for MYN users since in the MYN system we sort on Priority and then Start Date—this view does not do that.
Navigate to the Main Tasks View
So, you’ll want to navigate to the main tasks list where we can do that.
How do you get to the main tasks list? You will note the menu buttons at the bottom of this view.
Click the Task menu icon which is the 4th from the left (it has a clipboard with a checkmark on it)
Once you tap that, you will get the view below of nearly all tasks including future tasks.
Again, this default format is not useful to us either, but the key here is that this view is highly configurable and you can configure it to permanently match the MYN settings; it will then become your MYN tasks control panel. Let’s do that configuration now.
Configuring the Tasks View for MYN
Click on your Android menu hardware button; it’s usually at the bottom-left of your phone—look for the four squares symbol. When you do that, you’ll see some menus choices pop up at the bottom of your screen. Tap on Sort and you’ll see this Sort Order choice window pop up.
Set sorting as shown above. That means setting the top-level sort to Importance Descending, and the “Then by” sort to Start Date Descending. Do nothing in the third level sort. Again, match what is shown above. Click Apply to save the setting.
Next, click your Droid hardware menu button again, and this time choose Filter. The following Filter settings window will pop up.
Note the Show bar at top—it defaults to All. Tap it and change it to “Today and Overdue.”
Next, choose the Folders bar second from the top and change it to “Tasks.”
Ignore the Show Categories section which occupies most of the rest of the screen. Here’s how that screen looks just before tapping Apply:
Now tap Apply. You are done!
Here’s how the Tasks view looks with these settings. This view almost exactly matches the MYN TaskPad/To-Do Bar settings that I teach in my Outlook book and in my Outlook seminars. It also matches the Workday Mastery To-Do List that I teach in my book Master Your Workday Now!
Study this view a bit. Note that High Priority tasks are at the top (Critical Now tasks), Medium Priority in the middle (these are tasks with the clipboard next to them—we call them Opportunity Now tasks). And while you cannot see it, Low Priority tasks are at the bottom (Over the Horizon tasks). Also notice that newer tasks are at the top within each section—this is FRESH Prioritization in action. So this view is exactly what we want.
Well, technically, this is not exactly what we want; because there is no way to get rid of red overdue color you will see on most tasks (sorry). But you can use that to an advantage. Those tasks that are black at the top of the medium section are your Target Now tasks—tasks that start today. That’s an optional part of the MYN system described in Lesson 9 of the Outlook book—so this system supports that too!
Converting Email to Tasks
As I said above, one fantastic feature of this software is that, if you use the e-mail client that comes with it, you can convert e-mails to tasks. You do that from within an open e-mail; click the Android hardware menu button and you will see these choices, then…
- From those choices, click the More button in the lower right.
- From the popup menu choose Make Task. A new Task window will open.
- Immediately set a start date, and then edit the title to be an action phrase. Set the priority.
- Then click the Android hardware menu button and click Save from the popup menu.
Your task will now be added to Exchange—you can see it nearly immediately in your Outlook tasks list on your PC or Mac.
One limitation to using this software for Exchange tasks is this: unfortunately you cannot view attachments on tasks within your Android device. And given that you cannot do that, it makes sense that the e-mail to tasks conversion tool does not pickup attachments from the email either. Not a show stopper, but something to keep in mind.
So if you use Outlook with Exchange, and you have (or want to have) an Android phone or tablet, TouchDown is, hands down, the software to use to manage your tasks on the run. By the way, they even have a version optimized for the larger screen on tablets—so the software is ready for the coming Android tablet revolution. Maybe it’s time for you to get one?