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Can't quite make this work (not technically, personally)



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non-profitToolbox.com

Posted: Jun 08, 2009
Score: 0



Hello all - this is a long and complex question:

I have always been a fan of productivity software and TD, but I have only used it in waves. When I am overwhelmed with things to do, I go to TD and go into a brain dump mode, entering everything, realizing my categories and goals are out of date and re-arranging. I feel better after doing that but find that for some reason I abandon the process shortly.

This pattern has repeated for a year, with the 'on' phases as short as a few hours and as long as a week or so. I've always considered it a personal flaw that I didn't stick to it, so I kept the subscription.

Now, I'm watching every penny and I need a system more than ever (I say that every year, and it's always true.)

So, here's my question after an epic preamble: How do you do it? I don't mean every little step because I know that's individualistic and probably 20 little processes together. I mean:

How do you actually put every task in when they are added to the list so randomly, are nearly always interrupting something else (and yet need to be added with thorough contextual notes)?

How do you handle manually sorting things - sometimes I need to see something as 1-2-3 and this can't be manipulated directly with priority and dates?

How do you not drop things? I have so many tasks that I am usually using Folder view and then miss something.

I don't want to drop TD, but I've been unable to stick with it because of convenience and I can't justify it without a solid plan. ...Or is it just plain discipline that is the problem? Thanks for indulging the long question(s).
lite1

Posted: Jun 08, 2009
Score: 0



Posted by non-profitToolbox.com:
.... I feel better after doing that but find that for some reason I abandon the process shortly.


I don't want to drop TD, but I've been unable to stick with it because of convenience and I can't justify it without a solid plan. ...Or is it just plain discipline that is the problem? Thanks for indulging the long question(s).


I think the key is continuing to motivate oneself when adopting new/better habits and ways of functioning. Some of what works for me:
1) Appreciate and remind myself of the value (and time savings, clarity, or whatever) when I do follow through with my new habit.
2) Mentally rehearse the situations in which I am most likely to abandon my new habit and then internally rewrite it and visualize myself making the better choice.

There are so many effective ways of using TD that I will not comment on your other ?s. As you become more consistent with using it as a support for your life, I expect that you will have insights in to how to refine your own strategy for entry of tasks/subtasks. For me finding the right balance between quick entry that is simple but perhaps might not have all attributes (e.g. tags, context, dates, etc) assigned versus being more thorough is a key. I have found that erring toward quick and simple entry is best for me as I then do it consistently; if then I am consistently finding that a slight bit more time/energy to entering particular types of task has benefit then I'll slowly modify my behavior/use of TD. It is both an individual and evolving process.

Edward
P.S. Intesting website of yours which I will visit again later. Good luck with your endeavor. If you are not already linked as resource on compasspoint.org in San Fran you might want to explore that.
Anders

Posted: Jun 08, 2009
Score: 0



Posted by non-profitToolbox.com:
How do you actually put every task in when they are added to the list so randomly, are nearly always interrupting something else (and yet need to be added with thorough contextual notes)?

I don't understand what you mean here.

How do you handle manually sorting things - sometimes I need to see something as 1-2-3 and this can't be manipulated directly with priority and dates?

The easiest way to to this would be to use tags. You would probably want to avoid tags as a primary sort criterion in this case though because of the dividers. I use parent tasks as projects, so I sort first by parent tasks (a new feature), and then if I wanted to do something like this I would use tag as my second sort criterion.

How do you not drop things? I have so many tasks that I am usually using Folder view and then miss something.

That's a tough one, and I'm interested to hear what others have to say about this. Here are a couple of things I do that help me here personally. I use Folders as large areas of focus. There are less of them this way, and honestly I don't know how I would manage with all my projects as separate folders. Also, I get a broader view, but can still focus on particular projects by expanding their subtasks and collapsing other parent tasks. I also like to focus my views in the Main view by subdividing by priority. I sort first by Priority, then Parent/subtask. Then I can collapse the less important stuff with the dividers when I don't have time for it. Finally, I use stars a lot for this purpose. They are easy to apply, and I never lose anything that has a star on it. The Hotlist is also good for focusing on important tasks, but I use my starred list more. As long as you can keep up with starring upcoming or can't forget stuff, you should at least have that covered.

I don't want to drop TD, but I've been unable to stick with it because of convenience and I can't justify it without a solid plan. ...Or is it just plain discipline that is the problem? Thanks for indulging the long question(s).

I would say keep it pretty simple if there is too much management getting in the way of you getting things done. That is a different balance for everyone. Maybe look at your Fields used and ask yourself if each one is really doing anything to help you get things done.

~Anders
Claudio

Posted: Jun 08, 2009
Score: 0



lite1 has some good general suggestions and Anders has some good specific ones. I'll give this a shot from a different perspective.

Yes, discipline is part of the answer but discipline is something you can develop as long as you think that there's enough of a reason to make the effort. What do you want to achieve by tracking your tasks more effectively?

When you say "I can't justify it without a solid plan", do you mean you can't justify paying for a Pro subscription? You still get a lot of features with the free subscription. And what would you consider to be a "solid plan"?

Everyone drops some things, and everyone accomplishes something no matter what tools or system they use.

I use Toodledo as my main method of tracking what I want to do and what I need to do. I find it especially useful for repeating tasks because I enter the task only once, complete it, and then next week, next month, or next year it shows up in my list.

I add an item as soon as soon as possible after thinking about it. That's the first step. The specific folder or context is not crucial. More important is to get it into Toodledo. The next step is remembering to do it by referring to Toodledo. (Actually, the next step is remembering to look at Toodledo but this is a fairly easy habit to develop if you have a lot things that you need to get done.) And the final step is doing it. Well, except that it's really a series of steps, and there is no "final, final" step.

You can use a "First things first" priority-based approach, or a context-based "Project/Next Action" approach.

What is your alternative if you don't use Toodledo?
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