PIFEM: A New Getting Things Done System for Outlook

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Do you get a lot of email? I’ll bet almost everyone out there said “yes.” If you’re drowning in information overload, you have to check out a new email management system that Angus Logan, Ian Palangio, and Johann Kruse have been developing. It’s called PIFEM, or Pay it Forward Email Management, and it’s loosely based on David Allen’s methodology called “Getting Things Done.”

The PIFEM system takes the best practices from GTD – that is, the 4 D’s of Email Management – and combined those with time management skills. Then, the system is integrated with the workflow options present in Outlook 2007 and Exchange Server. The end result is what they’re calling PIFEM.

PIFEM uses the Outlook 2007 features of flagging and categories to manage the emails that you don’t want to (or can’t) take action on immediately. Every day your emails in your “Not Flagged” folder are processed and categorized based on importance and urgency. Flags are used to designate when the emails must be dealt with (today, tomorrow, later). All incoming emails are “actioned” (processed) at least a couple of times per day.

Once processed, the majority of the day’s work is spent in the “Follow Up – Today” folder. Here are the items that have to be dealt with today – and they’re already in order of importance. When individual items are completed, they’re checked off in Outlook which makes them disappear from the current view.


There’s a lot more to it, of course, and you can get some additional details on Johann's blog. Or better yet, if you’re really intrigued, you need to check out the complete instructions. Ian documented the whole process and the online package is available in his SkyDrive in a OneNote document. (If you don't have OneNote you can download a free trial. OneNote was used for its multi-dimensional document format and was developed collaboratively within Microsoft.)

As to why it’s called “Pay it Forward,” that’s because if the system helps you out, they want you to pay it forward and tell 3 other people about it. If it’s actually useful, then the concept will spread thanks to your help.

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