President's Planner

Reviewed by Charles Olsen
(Reprinted from HAL-PC User Journal)

PIM Application for Lotus Agenda

How many times have you told your computer to do something, and the stupid beast did exactly what you told it to? The idiot should have known that you didn't really mean that, right? Sometimes this leads to destruction (files deleted, disks formatted, etc.), while other times the results are less dramatic -- for example, data isn't filed where it should be.

This can easily happen with PIM (Personal Information Management) software. Some PIM software requires you to file your data carefully, with a rigid consistency, if you want to have any hope of finding it again in the future.

President's Planner is a PIM designed to eliminate this type of problem. It's an application written for Lotus Agenda, and you must have Agenda 2.0 installed before you can install President's Planner. (Partner's Planner is identical to President's Planner, except that it includes a billable time module. With that exception, everything that I say about President's Planner also applies to Partner's Planner.)

Data entry in President's Planner (PP) is a simple process. There are several views -- to-do's, calls, appointments, obligations to you, diary, log, and billable time -- allowing you to look at whatever information is appropriate at the moment. But every view has a "Scratch Pad," where you can enter any type of information. If you're looking at your appointments and realize that you need to call someone, just type "call John Doe" in the Scratch Pad. President's Planner realizes that this is a call, and puts it in the appropriate view.

Items remain in the scratch pad until deleted, or until the next day (PP will automatically clean them up). While an item is in the Scratch Pad, PP tells you where it intends to file the item. If you disagree, you can override the assignment by pressing one of the function keys Ctrl-F1 through Ctrl-F10. (Function key assignments are displayed at the bottom of the screen.)

You'll probably spend most of the time in the President's Day view. (All views actually have the user's name; for example, the views in my database are named Olsen's Day, Olsen's Phone Calls, Olsen's Appointments, etc.) President's Day gives everything that you need to be concerned with that day: to-do's, calls, follow ups, obligations to you, appointments, etc. As each task is completed, just highlight and press Agenda's "Done" key (F4), and it disappears from the view (but not from the database).

President's Planner has a number of special features, thanks to macros and the power text analysis capabilities of Agenda:

President's Planner will also track expenses for you. You can type the expense into an item using the word "expense," or you can use abbreviations: $P for postage, $C for photocopy, $T for telephone, etc.

If you're using Partner's Planner, items finished go to the Billable Time view. You can specify the amount of time you spent on each item, and specify which items did not represent billable work. Partner's Planner will give you the totals for billable and non-billable time.

President's Planner is installed into an existing Agenda database, so you can add it into a file that you're already using without disturbing your existing data. Partner's Planner must be installed into the PMA.AG file (an Agenda application designed for attorneys, available from Lotus). If you install into any other file, President's Planner is installed.

You can create new views and categories in your PP database, and you can add columns and sections to existing views. There are a few restrictions to the types of modifications you can make, and these are clearly specified in the manual.

President's Planner is like any other PIM: for it to be useful, you have to use it every day, and it must be readily available. Since Agenda can't run as a TSR, the best approach is to use some type of multitasking environment such as Desqview, OS/2 or Windows.

Phase III Computing also sells SuperMacros, Agenda macros that are powerful additions to PP. One is called Point & View, which allows you to highlight a word or words in an item and press Ctrl-V. Point & View will create a category by that name and a view with that category, and Agenda will display all occurrences of that word or phrase. "Add New Name" is a macro that will prompt you for the appropriate information, then add a new Person, Company or Matter to the appropriate category.

Of all the PIMs I've used, I think President's Planner has been the easiest to learn and put into use. You can get more out of it if you're familiar with Agenda, but you can put it to use immediately even if you've only just installed Agenda. The Scratch Pad now seems like such a simple (and very useful) idea, I wonder why no one thought of it before now.

By using Agenda as the base for personal information manager, Phase III Computing may have truly created the first Do What I Mean program. (As opposed to the Do What I Say approach used by other software.)

President's Planner & Partner's Planner Phase III Computing Inc.
88 Bloor Street East, Suite 3009
Toronto, Ontario
Canada M4W 3G9
(416) 925-8760
Requires: Lotus Agenda 2.0 (update (10-15-90 or later), 1.5M available hard disk space. 386 with at least 2M RAM (preferably 4M or more) recommended. Multitasking environment (Desqview, OS/2, Windows, etc.) recommended.
List price: President's Planner, $159.95; Partner's Planner, $179.95; SuperMacros, $39.95.
Not copy protected.