- The Washington Times - Monday, October 20, 2003

The release of Microsoft Corp.’s Office 2003 productivity suite today will garner reactions from yawns to cheers — I’m closer to the cheering side. But there are two new products that deserve close examination by those wanting more order for their workday.

The first is PlanPlus, a software program from FranklinCovey that works inside of Microsoft Outlook. It adds the Franklin Planner system’s “prioritized daily task list” and daily journal pages to Outlook, while retaining the e-mail browsing and address book capabilities of the Microsoft-created personal information manager. While Outlook has a to-do list feature, there are advantages to the FranklinCovey system, such as better prioritization.

Also attractive is the ability to drag and drop an e-mail onto either the task list or the daily appointment schedule to create a to-do item or an appointment. The daily journaling feature is very handy for recording notes of meetings and phone calls.

All this information can be stored on a CD for archiving, exported to a handheld computer or printed out on blank pages to be used in a FranklinCovey planner or other notebook.

There are other nice features of this software, including tools to handle weekly planning, goal setting, and the creation of a “mission and values” statement. There are interactive “wizards” to teach the software and help pages that explain features of the program.

Many of us live our lives inside of Microsoft Outlook and then run our lives chiefly from the e-mail inbox. PlanPlus for Microsoft Outlook, retailing for just under $100, makes more sense of Outlook, and can work with Outlook 2000 and later.

Those FranklinCovey devotees who prefer the paper-based Franklin Planner will be pleased by the Nov. 24 release of TabletPlanner 3.0, which runs on any PC using Microsoft Windows XP.

The new program supports both Microsoft Office 2003 and Microsoft Exchange 2003, which means data can be exchanged with enterprise-based e-mail networks and data stores.

Outlook tasks and appointments can be synchronized with the planner software, while there are advanced note-taking features that can enhance the use of the product. An “eBinder” lets you organize the planner with as many notebook-style tabs as needed. Data within the tabs can be password protected, with some visible to all users, while other data is secure.

On the visual side, users can create their own page layouts using a variety of styles and photos they may have on their computer. Everything can print onto FranklinCovey planner pages or be stored on CDs.

Retail pricing is $130, while the firm is offering an introductory price of $99.95. In years of searching, I haven’t found a better, more systematic way to plan one’s workday, goals and even your life.

Correction: My Oct. 14 column on Vonage’s Voice over IP phone service mistakenly said that the service would not work with DSL, a broadband service offered by many telephone companies. It does work with DSL service, but not with dialup Internet connections over standard phone lines. Similarly, the firm also offers a way to forward calls from the Vonage phone number to an alternate number, which gives users a way to receive calls even if one’s broadband service is not working.

E-mail markkel@aol.com or visit www.kellner.us.

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