Synchronizing MindManager and OutLook

A reader writes by email…
Dear AO,

I use your “Put it in Front of the Door” script daily and I find it very useful. I would like to add a feature to the script, which is synchronizing the dashboard with my tasks in Microsoft Outlook using the “Export task info to Outlook” feature of MM. How could I implement this?

Thank you in advance,

The “Put it in Front of the Door” script is a great way to keep your ResultsManager usage alive and well. I must admit it fell off my windows scheduler with an operating system upgrade awhile back and its time to bring it back.

I’ve been using MindManager and ResultsManager for over 4 years now and have never heard of anyone successfully using OutLook Task syncronization with both. I tried in my very early days and moved away from it quickly.

If you think about it, it is a quite complex series of operations to ask for. First ResultsManager harvests tasks out of dozens of maps and summarizes on a transient dashboard. Then MindManager needs to syncronize those rolled up task copies with an OutLook task list and figure out what is new/done/deleted in each. Then ResultsManager needs to push some of that completion information back to underlying maps. Too many things can go wrong.

In practice I use the OutLook Task List as as dedicated input flow to MindManager rather than something it populates or syncronizes with.

At work I send and receive about 120 message each day. I drag my sent items into my inbox so conversation threads are in same place. I use OutLinker to process these messages. If something seems like a short term item I push it to the task list using the “OutLinker Lite” functionality. For example if I expect a reply in a week or so or expect conversation to continue. Most items tend to be “waiting for X next week”. OutLinker puts the task due date in and associated person in the “company” field. I will also sometimes capture into task list directly on blackberry. Every so often I run OutLinker on the task list and push lingering items to MindManager maps using MindReader. So in practice I work from my daily action dashboard and from my outlook task list. Not ideal but better than no list!

If you wanted to do the reverse and dump your full Next Action list to the OutLook task list, that would be relatively easy to do with a macro. You would just need to empty it each day before hand or perhaps the macro could look for duplicates and delete them. I just wouldn’t want to pull back from this list.

At home what I do is use the “mna” (Mail Next Actions) GyroQ tag to send my next action lists to my gmail account as emails by context (see “You’ve got Mail…from ResultsManager“. This gives me ready-access to my lists at work and on the road. I don’t worry about checking them off remotely and sync-ing back.

Questions? Suggestions? Experiences?

Comment below.

1 Comment »

  1. Peter Knight said,

    November 14, 2009 @ 9:08 am

    Interesting insight into how you use Outlook in conjunction with Mindmanager. I have to agree that with so many operations that can go wrong if you have a lot of items syncing back and forth, two way syncing can be a burden.

    I have tried syncing in a few ways with MM and Outlook, one method being that I would only sync tasks to outlook that had a hard deadline. That way the tasks I wanted calendar/email reminders for would be set in Outlook (and also on Mobile version of Outlook).

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