Entourage (Mac) TRO Approach (GTD principles + Covey principles + more)

(Note: You can get Entourage 2008 free from Microsoft with low-cost hosted Exchange services, see below for info. Exchange is the best syncing mechanism anyway, so that combination is really worth taking a look at on a Mac.)

TRO Online Training sets up a complete, personalized GTD-type productivity system (with integrated Covey principles, and others), on a PC, Mac, Linux, or paper planner. It trains you step-by-step, with no guesswork. However, to do that, you have to tell it what tools you have so it can show you the right methods.

Entourage-based TRO training is under development, so for now, follow the instructions below to set things up for Entourage. If you need a little coach time to help you out, it can easily be scheduled on the side or included with various coaching options whenever you want to add it.

Entourage Approach Overview

Entourage is a good Total, Relaxed Organization tool. It is integrated with Spotlight, which makes it easy to search for tasks and emails from the Mac desktop. You can link Entourage emails to Entourage tasks (something you cannot do in Outlook), which makes it easy to connect data to actions when you triage--if Entourage is your mail client.

The approach below is for Entourage 2008. Entourage 2004 is similar, but it does not support Exchange Server properly, so syncing your tasks is limited to a manual sync for that version.

Getting Started

In your TRO Online Training, select Outlook as your Task list. If you've already selected another tool, return to the training Dashboard and click the hyperlink that says "Train with a different set of tools." It appears underneath the "Continue Where I Left Off" button.

Adapt the rest of the training as outlined here.

Creating Entourage Custom Task Views

When you reach the Outlook Setup lesson, read through it, but create Saved Searches (Custom Views in Entourage 2004) for your Tasks in Entourage using these rules instead:

Creating New Saved Searches (Custom Views in 2004)
Right click (Ctrl+click) on the Tasks Views bar at the left
(Or click +Add at top right in 2004)
All Tasks (Item Types = Tasks only in 2004)
Select the criteria explained below
Save and name the search according to the bolded title below
Use ((double parens)) around designated search names below (this pulls them to the top of the list for easy access)

((All Active Tasks))
Match: If all criteria are met
Item Is Incomplete
[Sort by Priority, descending]

((Do Today))
Match: If all criteria are met
Is Incomplete
Priority: Is greater than: Normal
Category: Is not: Templates
[Sort by Priority, descending]

Match: If all criteria are met
Is Incomplete
Priority: Is less than: Normal
Category: Is not: Templates
[Can sort any way you want]

((Weekly Review))
Match: If all criteria are met
Is Incomplete
Priority: Is: Normal
Category: Is not: Templates
Date Modified: Is greater than or equal to: 5 days old
[Sort by Due Date, ascending; ignore tasks that have alarms next to them and make sure all tasks have Due Dates (loose goal dates) when doing weekly review]

Match: If all criteria are met
Is Incomplete
Category: Is: None
Priority: Is greater than or equal to: Normal
[Can sort any way you want]

Specific Category Views
(Create One Per Category, Name It after the Category)

Match: If all criteria are met
Is Incomplete
Category: Is: Choose the category (e.g., Errands, 1Fred, or +Board)
Category: Is not: Templates
[Sort by Due Date, ascending; high priority tasks (exclamation points) to be done today, but they do not appear at the top]

In all views, click any header line column to toggle the sort order by that column. Ctrl-click the header line and uncheck the Project option, since this field is not useful to your TRO approach.

Other Specifics

The TRO Entourage approach closely follows the Outlook TRO approach. Due Date is a loose goal date, Reminder Date is optional "hard" DO ON date, Priority is used for "Do Today" tasks (High or Highest) or Someday/Maybe tasks (Low or Lowest). This approach works well regardless of the mobile option you choose.

This approach puts "Do Today" tasks at the top of the lists and Someday/Maybe (Low priority) tasks at the bottom when sorted by Priority.

To drill down to see all tasks for a specific category like (Work), 1Hilda, or +StaffMeeting, first create a view for that specific category using the instructions above.

Syncing with a Mobile Phone and Other Computers

Exchange Server is the best possible way to sync your tasks, email, calendar, and contacts over the air. It keeps any number of devices in sync, flawlessly. The new Entourage 2008 Web Services Edition (a free update from Microsoft) gives you tight integration of Entourage and Exchange Server. You can sync your Entourage tasks, email, contacts, and calendar to any Exchange-enabled device or service this way. This includes WinMobile phones, iPhones with a native app like IMExchange, Symbian S60 or Android with RoadSync (not yet tested here), and other apps (let us know what works for you AFTER you verify that it works reliably for tasks with multiple categories).

Hosted Exchange services are available cheaply for the average Jane- or Joe-on-the-street ($10/month). You also get Entourage 2008 and/or Outlook 2007/2010 free with hosted Exchange. See www.priacta.com/sync for our recommended hosted Exchange provider. If you use a Blackberry, the same provider offers Blackberry Enterprise Server support; like all things Blackberry, it costs more.

Manual syncing of tasks to a Blackberry works well via Blackberry desktop software. For other devices, there are other solutions out there, but we recommend AVOIDING these: e2Sync (highly questionable service reported) and SyncMate (does not sync tasks or categories). Let us know what works for you on your device.


Entourage will warn you every time you set a Reminder date ("DO ON" date) after the Due Date ("Loose Goal" date). In TRO, this is a very common case ("I think I might like to do this task next Thursday, but it definitely needs to be started by the 30th"). Ignore this warning message and save the Task anyway.

If your Entourage Tasks and Notes are not syncing consistently, see this article.

Entourage's Projects feature is not useful for TRO and should not be used.

As with Outlook and TRO in general, assigning tasks directly into someone else's task list using a built-in feature like Assign Task is NOT a good idea. It sounds so wonderful, but it is anti-productive (not to mention the technical problems you will also run into). Don't do it! Delegate the old-fashioned way: ask, via voice, note, or email. Let them enter the task into their own task list. It creates buy-in and accountability. Then follow-up the TRO way. See other posts in this forum for details.

Report Your Experience and Errors

Come back here to tell us your experience and report any errors in the instructions above.

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