eProductivity Weekly Tip: January 27, 2010   

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Weekly Tip: For more effective lists, use Categorized & Advanced Views

Fair Warning: This week's tip is "heftier" than normal, but very valuable for your eProductivity success...

Out of the box, your eProductivity projects and actions appear in flat lists. Great for simplicity, but they have their limitations.

For more powerful display options, you can configure your projects and actions to display in Categorized or Advanced View modes. Two primary functions that Categorized and Advanced Views offer are:
  • Creating subprojects
  • Visually grouping related projects and actions, which helps with organization, findability, etc.
These viewing modes are configured inside the eProductivity preferences. This tip will show you why you should care about Categorized and Advanced Views and how to set them up.

For our example, we will use an Agenda action item. Agenda items are great for keeping track of things that you want to discuss with a particular person. For instance, you might keep running lists of things you want to discuss with your boss, and you can use Agenda items to track this.

Please note that only certain editions of eProductivity are allowed to use these view modes.

Basic Views: The eProductivity default mode
Using Basic Views, when you create a new Project or Action, what you type is what you get.

For instance, say you create a new Agenda item. Typing this in your new Agenda's subject line...

An action in Basic mode

...gets reflected exactly the same way when you see that Agenda on your list.

An Agenda list in basic mode

A flat list of one Agenda item is easy to read. A flat list of 100 Agenda items? Not so much. But because you subscribe to eProductivity Tips, you'll know how to improve your lists.

How Categorized and Advanced Views work
Categorized Views add one level of hierarchy to your flat lists. Using the exact same Agenda item from above, let's view it in Categorized View mode.

An Agenda list in Categorized mode

Much easier to read. So what's the secret?

It's simple. Remember that your original subject line was "Kelsey - Discuss contract amendment for Cerlon". When viewing this in Categorized View mode, everything before the dash ("-") is considered to be the Topic. In this case, that's "Kelsey". The Topic is bolded. Everything after the dash is considered the Subject Line, and appears in plain text and is indented differently.
Ok, so that's Categorized View mode. So how do Advanced Views work?
Advanced Views add two levels of hierarchy to your flat lists. To make this work, let's edit our original Agenda subject line...

An action in Advanced mode

Kelsey works for ICA. By adding "ICA\" to the front of your subject line, you'll be able to sort Kelsey's Agenda items by the ICA company name.

To see how this works, we'll turn on Advanced Views for Agenda items. Now let's view our list of Agenda items...

An action list in Advanced mode

(For this screenshot, all other agenda items were edited with company names for consistency)
If you regularly meet with people at many different companies, having Advanced Views enabled for your Agenda items can be a real time-saver.
How to setup Categorized and Advanced Views
Now that you've got a taste what Categorized and Advanced Views can do for you, how do you enable these options? Well, there are two steps.

1. First, you need to use the proper syntax for your Subject Lines, depending on whether you want to use Categorized or Advanced Views.
  • For Categorized View items: They must include a "Topic - Subject Line" syntax.
  • For Advanced View items: They must include a "Category\Topic - SubjectLine" syntax
The location and presence of the dash ("-") is critical. These syntax structures are necessary to make this all work.

2. Secondly, you need to enable Categorized or Advanced Views inside of your eProductivity preferences.

What's really great is that you can pick and choose which views you want as Categorized or Advanced, and which views you just want as Basic flat lists. It's fully customizable to your needs!
To setup, open your eProductivity Preferences by clicking on the big "eProductivity" button inside the software. Once you're inside the Preferences, navigate to the Views > Configuration section. From there, pick and choose how you'd like each of your views to work. Enjoy!
Tip: When you select a view in one section, that option will disappear from the other two sections. For instance, selecting "Projects" in the Basic section will make "Projects" disappear from the Categorized and Advanced sections. To reverse this, unselect "Projects" in the Basic section.

Setting up your eProductivity view preferences
Closing Thoughts
First, you can enable different view modes for each eProductivity view. For instance, use Categorized Views on your Projects list as well as your Agendas list. This means you can customize all your eProductivity views to match your preferred style!

Secondly, for each eProductivity view, choose carefully when selecting a new view mode. If you change your mind, having to re-edit the syntaxes of your subject lines can be a pain...

Finally, these view modes are a great way to make a Subproject hierarchy, if that's what you're seeking.

Another tip coming next week!