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Brian Tinkler HuntingBluejays

(Yeah, it helps if you enjoy Ozzy Ozzbourne’s Iron Man song…)

I’ve had a bunch of recent conversations with friends, colleagues, Microsofties, and others lately about my dependency on plug-ins.  Most prevalently – Outlook plug-ins.  I decided rather than send the various e-mails I was requested to send I’d simply post here and point them to it.

So, first, before I go into some big list of links that may or may not matter a hill of beans to you, I’ll post my rationale for being dependent in the first place.  “Hello, my name is Brian, and I’m a plug-in addict”…

Ok, really now…

I love Microsoft Outlook, particularly Outlook 2003.  It serves a lot of functions that I use every day.  As a VP of Business Development, I’m either working on selling something or marketing something, or partnering with somebody to sell or market something.  Outlook is basically a framework to me for giving me what I need.  I spend 12-15 hours a day staring into Outlook.  It’s the best tool out there for personal information management.

That’s why I’m a hopeless plug-in addict.  For all Outlook does, it falls seriously short in exactly where it has the unrealized potential (so far) to shine.  Where?  Well, for me, it lies in a few key areas.  First, Outlook complicates my priorities.  What do I need to do, when, and why?  What are my most important functions, tasks, responsibilities today and at any point in the future?  Outlook has all the data, but doesn’t provide the view.

Enter a few plug-ins…

1.      FranklinCovey PlanPlus

a.       Ever wonder what Outlook would look like if you could see your folders, monthly calendars, daily tasks (prioritized by A1, A2…B1, B2…C1, C2…), work week calendar, daily journal (for voice mail tracking, etc.), and up to 2 e-mail inbox folders --- all on ONE SCREEN?  This is it and so much more!

2.      David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD)

a.       Buried by a mountain of stuff and not sure what to do with everything?  Based on David Allen’s best-selling book, Getting Things Done, this plug-in provides a simple way to process all the data you receive in a way that ensures you do what you need to with it.  Combine this with #1 above and you’re 80% of the way to a simpler and more fruitful life!

3.      Plaxo

a.       Ever lose your Outlook file or have a PST corruption?  Never again.  Plaxo is an ideal online (and free) backup tool for your Outlook information.  It is also a way to automatically keep your contacts updated.  Everyone else who is a Plaxo member will automatically synch with your contact record of them and there are tools to request updates from non-members.  Great lifesaver and also provides web-based access to all your Outlook information without requiring OWA and Exchange.

4.      Linked-In

a.       This is a “social networking” tool, but ultimately, it provides a way to connect with and stay current with your casual to almost friend contacts.  It’s a network that enables you to reference for and others in your network reference for you to make new contacts.  It’s up to you and your contact group on how you use it and what advantages you receive, but I’ve met some key contacts through this network and I’m sure you will/would too.

5.      ClearContext Inbox Manager

a.       I first heard about this from a Microsoft marketing guy.  He claimed over 600 e-mails a day.  I get about 200 a day, and that’s hard enough to manage.  I just started using this tool, but it enables a scoring and weighting to those who e-mail you, so that you can sort by the most important e-mails in your inbox and not just those that come in next.  Very valuable in quickly clearing out a few hundred e-mails (I recommend in conjunction with the other tools mentioned above) after being out of the office for a day or two.

6.      MSN Desktop Search

a.       Why on earth this wasn’t included by default in Outlook 2003 is beyond me.  This is the fastest way on the planet to find information in Outlook.  It’s way beyond Google because it’s built into Outlook (and other Office apps) and allows you to determine much more refined searches – say for contacts with a specific phrase or e-mails, or tasks, etc.  It’s faster (or as fast) as Google and the results I’ve seen are amazing.

These plug-ins add some start-up time for Outlook (which, let’s face it – isn’t so fast anyway).  However, they’re worth the overhead and then some.  I can’t imagine living without them.  I can’t do what I do without them – at least not in a reasonable amount of time.

If you’re looking for results in a quick and easy-to-use way from a tool you’re already familiar with – please check out these plug-ins.  You’ll be glad you did.

Posted on Friday, January 28, 2005 3:08 AM | Back to top

Comments on this post: sing along now..."I Am Plug-In Man!"...du da du da du dah dah dah

# re: sing along now..."I Am Plug-In Man!"...du da du da du dah dah dah
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hey Brian, i dont know about the other plug-ins, but i have issues with Linked-In. i keep getting messages from other Linked-In users wanting me to update my address book and such. i consider that spam, and the people that have sent me that spam lose some cool points. there needs to be a different tool thats not so annoying.
Left by casey chesnut on Jan 28, 2005 7:34 AM

# re: sing along now..."I Am Plug-In Man!"...du da du da du dah dah dah
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Hey Casey,

I totally agree with your assessment of how some people use Linked-In. I think people sometimes say, "hey, here's a cool way that I can have other people do what I should already be doing." That's obviouslly an attitude that's going to be annoying. I use Linked-in primarily to meet people that I either 1) want to do business with or 2) might be able to help me do business with someone else. There are too many people using it to "see how cool" they are by trying to connect to as many people as possible. That's not the point of the application, imo. Social networking tools will never replace being sociable and actually meeting people.

Plaxo is also similarly misused for updating contact info. However, enough of my contacts use it that we just keep our info updated and it automatically keeps other connected users contact information updated. No pesky requests to do so.

I think most people agree - here's a series of posts that ring that same tune you mention regarding Linked-In:

Oh, btw Casey - what's your phone # again? J/K!

Left by Brian on Jan 28, 2005 8:39 AM

# Productivity Tools
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I found this great post on productivity tools. Take a peek.
In today’s world of productivity tools,...
Left by Mike's Blog on Aug 14, 2005 7:56 PM

# re: sing along now..."I Am Plug-In Man!"...du da du da du dah dah dah
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If you like, plug-ins, try SendShield... it makes sure you don't send email attachments that aren't final drafts (unless you want them to be). It catches stuff like comments and tracked changes in Word files - very cool.
Left by Shelby on Nov 19, 2007 8:40 PM

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