Adding Kanban for Outlook Tasks

Outlook tasks are good on their own, but sometimes you want a bit more.  Since I’ve been using Kanban, a project management method, I wanted my Outlook tasks to reflect that style.

First, I checked Outlook itself to see if there were add-ons that would accomplish this goal.  There was one for Outlook 2013 that provided Kanban for tasks.  It was a great idea and I tried it. However, there were a few limitations:

  • It was based on mail rather than tasks, so it required being in a mail item to view Kanban.
  • In Outlook tasks, it was not available.  This was the major limitation.

I continued my search and encountered a good implementation on LinkedIn described by DMA/Donna Michelle Anderson that uses the source files found on Frederik’s GitHub.  I appreciated the detailed step-by-step implementation guide.

 

First, follow implementation guide:

It was a good guide. I followed the implementation as closely as possible.

Time: I took about 15 minutes to get it all working and it was as expected. I was impressed and knew I needed to try it out a bit.

Second, review the results:

I liked the setup and it worked overall, but there were a few things that needed to change so that it would work better for me.

  • Dragging tasks: It’s great to drag a task from one folder to the next, but I wanted my tasks to always appear on the Outlook Today screen.  Only tasks that appear in the “Tasks” folder show up on the Today screen.  Dragging tasks to other folders meant that those tasks wouldn’t appear on the Today screen.
  • Task Status: Although Kanban view folders are status based, Outlook tasks also have a status. Moving tasks in Kanban view does not update the Outlook task status. Thus, only in Kanban view would the status of a task be known.
  • Multiple Projects: Using Outlook categories is a great way to organize projects.  The Kanban view took advantage of this, but if you work on multiple projects at once, it would require updating the code with each category.  Every new project would always require this update.

Time: I took the rest of the day to use it while working on my daily projects.

Third, personalize it:

There was no need for multiple folders.  Only one folder was important (“Kanban View”) and even that folder was not necessary (It can be implemented directly on the tasks folder). However it was better to have Kanban View as a separate folder so that I can continue to have my original tasks folder with an alternative view.  I disabled dragging by remove multiple folders.  I used task status to move tasks from one place to the next. I removed category from the code and used Outlook views to display multiple projects.

Here’s what I did:

  • Modified the index page as follows:
    • <param name=”Folder” value=”Tasks”>  – Every folder in will now look at the same tasks folder.
    •  <param name=”Restrictions” value=”[Status]=’Not started'”> –  Changed the category parameter so that the view can display all projects regardless of category.   For each folder, set the value to the status that appears in Outlook.
      • Backlog = “Not Started”
      • In Progress = “In Progress”
      • Waiting on Someone Else = “Waiting on Someone Else”
  • Modify the CSS to change the background colors.
  • In Outlook, modify the tasks view to display categories when I’m in the Kanban View.

Time: I took a few days to think through the implementation and a couple hours to implement and test.

Now, there is no drag and drop in Kanban View but when I update the status of a task, it automatically goes to the correct board in Kanban view while still showing up on my Today screen. When a task is checked as complete, it disappears from my Kanban view.

I very much appreciate finding and using this Kanban View.  I hope my tweaks help someone else to create their version as well.

 

Posted on LinkedIn

Tech Tips: Batch Create Folders (PC)

Welcome to Tech Tips!

Tech tips is a place to share ideas for getting work done faster and more efficiently.  If it is possible to reduce the amount of time and manual work it takes to accomplish a task, then I like to find a way to do so.

Today’s topic is about batch processing.  I rather enjoy batch processing because it is an opportunity to learn the intricate nature of a process and then design a method to automate that process.  The batch process below is quick and easy to do on a PC.

Batch Create Folders

Why?  Because you have to create dozens or hundreds of folders for a project you’re working on and don’t have the time or resources to do it manually. You want something quick and easy to use.

FolderCreate

Text file of folder names.

  1. Folder Create Location: Navigate to the location where you’d like to create the batch of folders.  This process is focused on creating single directories.
  2. Create & Save Text File:  Create and save a text file with folder names where each line in the text file represents a folder that needs to be created. The text file can be named anything. The content of the text file should be in the format: md foldername
    1. md – the command to make directory
    2. space – separator between command and folder name
    3. foldername – the name of your folder. If you want to include a space in the foldername, add quotes around the name (i.e “Folder Name”)
  3. Change File Extension: Change the file extension from .txt to .bat to make a batch process that you can run.
  4. Double-click Batch File: Run the batch file by double-clicking it.  Once the batch is run, the folders with the name in the text file will be created in the current directory.
  5. All Done!

 

A Personal List Notebook

Personal List Notebook

Personal List Notebook

Write it down!

Writing things down has always been my way to learn and to remember, and as such, I have developed habits that help to keep me productive and reflective.  I write lists.  I find lists to be exactly right for being productive and for keeping track of what I’ve done, what I’m currently doing, and what I’m planning to do next.  Some of these lists turn into checklists, but they mostly record my thoughts and plans.

Get a Notebook  

 

The notebook can be digital, but I find that the physical notebook has more affordances than the digital, for that reason, this post will focus on the traditional physical notebook.

The notebook should be something you like, something you can have with you frequently, and something small enough to carry, but big enough to hold your thoughts.   Paired with the notebook is a great writing instrument: pen/pencil/maker.  There’s a certain pleasure in finding a notebook with great paper and a pen that writes wonderfully on it.  It will make the process of using the notebook more pleasurable, so spend the time to find exactly what suits you.  You’re going to be using it a lot. Continue reading