Monday, 11 April 2011

Managing a Simple Plan

In the last post, I introduced a basic planning procedure to help ensure simple tasks are achieved efficiently and with minimal prevarication (see A Moment's Reflection Before Action). 

Making a Plan

In that post I mentioned briefly the possibility of adding the steps as tasks in Outlook, should this be your preferred way of managing things.  In this post I wanted to demonstrate how this might be done using mind mapping software, such as MindView.

The planning procedure suggests a very simple template, with three main ideas to set up as main branches: Aim or Goal; Steps; Obstacles.

Replace Garden Shed

Working first with the "Aim or Goal", add ideas to the template.  Make a list of the the things you think need to be done to achieve the aim or goal - add these to the "Steps" branch.

Replace Garden Shed Plan

Also make a list of the possible obstacles and what steps might be taken to overcome them - add steps from this list to your main list of steps where there is a high certainty that they will need to be done (for instance, in the example of "Replace Garden Shed", review of the obstacles identifies that having asked my brother for help I will need to remind him because he is a forgetful soul - this is shown on the map by the red link).

Replace Garden Shed Plan dates

 

Next add dates for when you expect to start and complete the steps (in MindView open the "Task/Timeline Info" tab and set "Show Branch Data" to "on").

 

To export the steps to Outlook as tasks is easy.  First set the MindView map to show only the sub-branches of the "Steps" branch (use "Branch Focus") - these are the items that you want to become tasks in Outlook. 

 

 

 

 

Then follow the MindView menu options for Export to Outlook.

Replace Garden Shed Plan export outlook 1

To keep the resulting task list separate and clearly identifiable from other Outlook tasks, create a new task folder in Outlook to receive the exported items from MindView. If it helps, you might want to think of the goal and the steps you've planned as a simple project, with its own folder.

Replace Garden Shed Plan export outlook new folder

Complete the export and find the task folder in Outlook.  Typically the tasks are displayed as detailed list, sorted in date order.

Replace Garden Shed Plan export outlook task list

Alternatively, the list can be displayed in Outlook using a timeline view.

Replace Garden Shed Plan export outlook timeline

Either way you are now ready to begin managing your simple project using Outlook.  You can mark tasks as complete as you go.

Replace Garden Shed Plan export outlook task complete

Should you wish, you might want to retain the original planning view created in MindView but with updates from Outlook as progress is made, such as when tasks are completed.  You can do this by synchronising the MindView map with Outlook whenever you want an update.  Follow the export options in MindView to Outlook, this time selecting "Synchronise Tasks" instead of "Export as New Tasks".

Replace Garden Shed Plan export outlook task complete sync

Set the synchronise options to pick up the changes from Outlook.

Replace Garden Shed Plan export outlook task complete sync options

Complete the operation and the MindView tasks will be updated.  In this example, two tasks were marked as complete in Outlook.  This is now reflected in the MindView map - in this example the original plan view has been filtered to show only completed tasks.

Replace Garden Shed task complete sync filter

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