View Full Version : Achieve Planner and Do Organiser
09-06-2006, 05:49 PM
I have seen some mention of Achieve Planner in the Forum and it sounds good. I am interested in getting feedback on both Achieve Planner and Do Organiser and wheher they have helped or hindered GTD effectiveness. Thank you in advance.
09-07-2006, 11:22 AM
I have made some references to Achieve Planner which I have been using since January 2006.
I looked at what other outliners were available and Achieve Planner handily exceeded them all in terms of functionality.
I have been doing GTD for 3 years and it has made an enormous difference in my life. But my biggest weakness in my GTD implementation was managing projects. With my other systems there was too much overhead involved to start adding a project to a list just because I might have two NAs.
Achieve Planner is project-centric, so I make projects with ease for almost everything.
One wonderful feature of Achieve Planner is that it has a field for Contact Person. So I no longer keep @Agendas contexts. Instead I put the relevant persons' names in the Contacts field. If I want to know everything in my system that is related to Susan, I just filter the Contacts field for Susan.
One warning: GTD is an immensely powerful and complex tool. In fact, you can start using it almost immediately. But the complexity and richness can be a bit overwhelming for some who are just starting. Too start with, just create NAs and Projects. That's all you need. Once you've mastered that, there are lots of bells and whistles for integrating projects with higher altitude (40,000 feet, 50,000 feet, etc.) goals.
I was hoping that Microsoft was going to add an outliner function to Outlook's tasks. On this board I read that Microsoft was not going to do that. If you want an outliner, they reasoned, buy Microsoft Project.
Well, I have MS Project and I have Outlook. I wanted something that would integrate them. Achieve Planner has done that. There is a contacts list and calendar, like Outlook, and there is an outliner for projects and next actions, like MS Project. And . . . Achieve Planner is undergoing constant and rapid improvement by a developer who is quite open to user input.
Achieve Planner's latest Beta version has full Outlook synchronization. The final release should be in a couple of days. Since January 2006 I have been syncing Achieve Planner to Outlook and then syncing Outlook to my PDA.
By the end of the year there should be direct syncing between Achieve Planner and a Windows PDA application called Pocket Informant. So, soon Achieve Planner will be able to sync directly to Windows PDAs. If you want to stick with a Palm or Blackberry (my current PDA is a Blackberry) you can always sync through Outlook.
Achieve Planner is laid out using Excel-like grids. It's not as beautiful as some other applications I have looked at. But it is much more efficient. By using grids you can see lots of information in one glance and, what is more important, you can enter information directly into the grids for one NA, while the information for other NAs and Projects is still visible. I have grown to love these grids and recognize their own unique beauty.
I am so pleased with how Achieve Planner has enhanced my implementation of GTD, that you might be suspicious of my motives. I am in no way related to anyone involved with Achieve Planner, other than being a very satisfied customer. You can see that I've been involved with this forum long before I knew anything about Achieve Planner.
I would discourage people from hopping from tool to tool when implementing GTD. If you are happy with GTD, keep on doing what you're doing. Remember, the goal is not be good at GTD, the goal is to be good at what you're doing. At the end of the day, I want my tool to fade into background. I don't want to be thinking about my GTD tool. I want to be thinking about the content: next actions and projects. Obsessing about tools and systems is a distraction from what's important. Get your system and use it. For me, I reached a point where I could see that my system was not adequate to my needs. At that point I reviewed the available alternatives. I settled on Achieve Planner and I am elated with the time it's saved me. My weekly reviews are completed much more quickly and I keep my system much more up-to-date than I ever had in the past.
To answer your question in short, I have been much more disciplined, productive, and effective, using GTD with Achieve Planner than when I used GTD without Achieve Planner. I am very happy with it and I would encourage anyone with lots of balls in the air to give it serious consideration.
09-10-2006, 09:11 PM
Thank you Moises! I appreciate your review and its relation to GTD.
09-11-2006, 12:47 PM
For years I've been looking for the Holy Grail of project management tools only to discover lately that it doesn't exist.... although Achieve looks like it may come close. The reason why there is no one tool suited to all projects is because the scope and size of projects varies so widely. Kewms has effectively said so in these forums and in a recent re-reading of Getting Things Done I find that David Allen says the same thing, although this simple fact apparently eluded me during earlier readings.
I purchased MS-Project along with my very first Windows-compatible computer and upgraded Project two or three times and tinkered around with it but have yet to use it for managing a single project, and for precisely the same reason David Allen says it's not suited for nearly all of the projects that most of us do most of the time: The overhead of maintaining the system is just too high. There are, of course, projects where MS Project is the appropriate tool but, as Allen points out, those who need it already use it.
For the other projects, I've finally concluded, I need a collection of tools at my disposal so that I can select the right assortment of tools for each particular project. The simpler ones can he handled readily in the task lists in Outlook, and simpler is almost always better. But Outlook task lists are not sufficient for organizing and tracking the multiple tasks and schedules of the larger, longer, more important, higher-value projects, or for organizing the information and ambiguity and complexity that is inherent in those projects. Those kinds of projects need more sophisticated toolsets. (The only time I've suffered Mac envy was due to the Project Center in Entourage. I was deeply disappointed when I learned Microsoft didn't intend to add similar functionality to Outlook 2007, since it seemed like such an obvious thing to include. My thinking has changed. The bigger, multi-dimensional, higher-value projects I wrestle with have more complexity than even an Entourage-like Project Center would likely handle.)
Since Outlook has my e-mail client, calendar, contact list and task lists, I've concluded that whichever tools I use to organize and track and monitor projects outside of Outlook must be capable of funneling tasks and schedules into Outlook. From what I can see, it looks like Achieve can do this quite well.
There are two other toolsóin my tool setówhich I find quite useful to deploy for the bigger projects, and they integrate well with Outlook. MindManager, because it can build a three-dimensional hierarchy of information and is such an intuitive and fluid environment to work in, is a wonderful tool for dealing with a lot of complexity. It can export individual tasks to Outlook. MindManager can also export to Project, but thereís a much simpler add-in which synchronizes with MindManager and can track timelines and costs. I sometimes use it to get a rough idea of how long a given project might take, and later perhaps to monitor the project thatís on my plate right now. (Thereís another insight that others have written about in these forums. You canít really DO more than one of these large projects at one time. You can be thinking about and planning for a few or several of them concurrently, but when it comes time for the doing, itís more efficient and effective to do them sequentially.)
I've had OneNote since the beta version of the initial release but until now have mis-used it as just another collection black-hole holding a mish-mash of stuff. Now, I'm starting to use it for organizing project-specific notes and information. It can export tasks [next actions] to Outlook on the fly and this can be useful for the off-line but project-related kinds of tasks which tend to crop up. And I can link from MindManager to specific pages in Outlook.
What these tools lack is good scheduling-calendaring functionality. It appears that Achieve can do this quite well, and synchronize the project-specific schedules with the Outlook calendar. Furthermore, Achieve looks like a good tool for those projects that require a bit more up-front planning and information gathering than Outlook tasks lists lend themselves to but donít have the scope and size of the larger projects, which require significant amounts of time and resources to complete. I canít imagine trading the combination of MindManager and OneNote--for the kinds of projects with enough complexity where those tools are especially appropriate--for Achieve. Nor can I imagine having my total inventory of projects scattered among different applications. So, Moises, Iím curious. Do you happen to know if tasks can be imported directly from MindManager to Achieve? And is it possible to link next actions in Achieve to OneNote pages?
09-12-2006, 06:12 AM
Sorry, but I do not know the answers to your questions. You might try to contact the developer directly at "info at effexis dot com".