The Personal Project Planner, or Planz™ for short, addresses a basic challenge of our modern lives: Our digital information comes in many different forms (files, email messages, general Web pages, special-purpose blogs and wikis) and is often scattered in many different ways.
Tools meant to help can actually make things worse. Special purpose tools such as OmniPlan or even a general-purpose tool such as Microsoft OneNote tend to ※box us in§ by imposing a fixed structure of dialog boxes, tabs and pages that don＊t always fit with the more fluid, informal nature of our everyday planning. Also, the organizations of different tools are usually incompatible with each other and with the organizations we＊ve created already to manage files, email and web pages.
How can we organize our information求and ourselves求to stay on track? How can we do this without spending all of our time on organization? Planz addresses each of these issues by adhering to two basic principles:
1. Plan first, let the organization follow. The Plans you create in Planz are part of a single document that looks like the draft document you might create in a word processor or the notes you might scribble to yourself on a notepad. You plan by typing your thoughts freehand. Then link your thoughts to files, Web pages, and email messages. You organize your thoughts under headings and subheadings over time and only according to your needs. Access your Plans and the information you need to complete these Plans through a single integrated document.
2. No new organization. The Plans you create in Planz are essentially an alternate way to work with your existing files and folders. The headings and subheadings of a Plan represent folders and subfolders in your file system. Use these to organize not only files but also e-mail messages and web references. Change your Plans as easily as you might change a document in a word processor.
How can a Plan be used to organize documents, e-mail messages and web pages?
1. Send e-mail messages and create new documents from the ※inside out§ as you are writing your Plan. These items are created as they would be normally求in separate windows managed by supporting applications such as Microsoft Word and Microsoft Outlook. However, Planz automatically links these items into your Plan. You stay focused on your Plan and free from external distractions such as the inbox!
2. Link to existing documents, e-mail messages, webpages, and folders from the ※outside in.§ Simply select the item, then drag and drop it to a chosen location in your Plan. The item stays where it is (as a file, e-mail, web page or folder), but a link pointing to this item is created in your Plan. Alternatively, select text and drop into a Plan. This will place a copy of the text in a new note with a link back to the item.
The obvious answer is to use Planz for planning. But a Plan in Planz is just a sequence of notes followed by a sequence of headings. You can use a Plan in many ways:
1. Write down your to-dos, one per note.
2. Write down, or drag into a Plan, information you don＊t want to forget such as budget numbers or phone numbers.
3. Send email messages and create new documents from a single place.
4. Link to files, email and web pages. Link to your existing folders and ※Expand§ these in a single unified view.
5. Create calendar appointments and tasks in Outlook. Click these to see all relevant information. Information management and task/time management can be two sides to the same coin.
6. Use Planz as a jumping off point to the Windows Explorer or to OneNote. Planz is even a fast way to return to the window for a document that＊s already open.
1. QuickCapture: from a document, email or web page, click Windows+c to quickly and easily capture information, with the ability to include a link to the original item, along with annotations, in Planz.
2. Consolidated Support for Task & Time Management via the Flag/Check Option
3. In-place expansion: Link to any folder, anywhere; promote the resulting note to be a heading; expand to see the folder＊s contents. All the information you need in one consolidated view!
Above all, remember that Planz is a prototype, not a product. Planz is sometimes slow and it has many rough edges. Some suggestions:
1. Back up your files and folders as a precaution. There have been no occurrences of data loss associated with Planz＊s use, but backing up your information is always a good idea.
2. Ignore ※XooML.xml§ files. Planz architecture supports its document-like views by distributing XooML fragments, one per folder that you work with. Practice your outlining skills. You may have learned how to create an outline as an initial step in writing a term paper. You may also have used the outlining tool of an application such as MS Word. Complete plans can be created in the Draft mode of Planz. But the Outline mode gives you extra control求especially when editing the structure of a Plan.
3. Planz is designed to work best on Windows (XP, Vista, or 7) platforms and for people who use MS Office 2007 applications求including MS Outlook 2007.
4. Use Refresh to update your Planner view 每 if you work on your files and folders outside of Planz.
And please, give us your feedback! The best way to do this is to go to the Tales of PIM discussion forum at: http://talesofpim.org/.
Now read on to learn the essentials of Planz in 6 easy steps.