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Experimental GTD Setup



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Proximo

Posted: Aug 06, 2009
Score: 3



OK,

So I am a GTDer and this is why I am posting this on the GTD Section of the forums.

I have been tweaking my Toodledo GTD setup since I started using the service. I make small adjustments as I find a better way to make the system work for me and to emulate a true GTD flow.

I am sure when new features and changes take place, I will be tweaking once more. Some things I am looking forward too is.

1. Project Section (for better managing projects)

2. Sub-task functions (So they are easy to reorder and show up according to their status)

3. Multiple Context (To assign @Work and @Email, etc.)

4. Tags (better use of tags, how they are assigned and accessed)

Until these are ready, I will continue to make tweaks where needed. These are not very often anymore as I started to settle into my current setup, but I recently started to experiment with an idea.

Could I create a true GTD setup and mimic what other GTD Specific applications provide. Such as Vitalist, Things and Thinking Rock.

I don't mention Nozbe because anyone who understand GTD will know that Nozbe is not following the GTD Flow. So I don't even consider them as an example in this area.

So, what I did is start a free account under my work email to play with this idea. What I am finding out is that it could potentially work, but until I start using it in real world, I may not see all the scenarios that I will deal with.

So with this said. I am going to share what my idea is with you guys. Please keep in mind that I have not switched over to this setup and that I am trying to make Toodledo work as other GTD specific apps. do.

Folders

I created folders for the main areas where task will live.

1. In-box
2. Actions (Actionable Task)
3. Projects
4. Waiting For
5. Someday/Maybe

Note: I don't really use "Reference", and you may.

Context

@Home
@Work
@Personal Business ( I purposely omitted my business name)
@My Site ( Another business website I am working on )

Because I can't assign multiple context to task yet, I had to make a decision here. Because of my work environment, I don't benefit as much as others by working from specific context anymore. I can however use the context to separate the different locations or areas I have in my life.

Columns

I don't use the Status Column
I don't use the Priority Column (Per GTD)

For Next Actions, I use the Star

Columns I have active are:

1. Due Date
2. Tags
3. Time
4. Folders

How does it work?

I dump what's in my head into my "In-box" for later processing.

I look inside my "In-box" folder (or No Folder) to process these task.

I complete any task that takes 2 minutes or less as I come up to them.

I move task (Defer) to my "Actions" folder if they are actionable for later.

I move the task that will require more than one step to my "Projects" folder and add the sub-task needed in there.

I move Delegated task to my "Waiting For" folder

I move task that would be nice, but won't happen anytime soon to my "Someday/Maybe" folder.

Now that I processed my "In-box" and got it to Zero. I can look through my "Actions" folder and choose what I will do next by using the Star as a "Next Action" indicator.

I Filter by "Star" first so all my Next Actions are on top.

So when I am looking at my "Actions" folder, I see everything in my life that is actionable and use the "Context" to filter between my areas. So at work, I will work with the "@Work" context turned on.

This allows me to filter the list as I need it.

When I want to see what Projects I have. I go to the "Projects" folder and also filter by areas of focus on where I am. If I am at home, I will filter by the "@Home" context.

The very next sub-task of a project that needs to be done, I will mark with the Star.

Custom Search

I will use several custom searches to bring my Next Actions (Stars) into one list as needed. I may have one for each area, such as Work, Home, Business and My Site. This search will include all task with a star and specific context. It will include Project task, so I can work off one list for all my Next Actions regardless if it's a single actionable task or the next task in a Project.

Conclusion

What I am trying to do is create a GTD Workflow as it's described in David Allens book and how many GTD Specific apps. setup their GUI.

Again, I am doing this with a separate free account, so I did not get to work with sub-task using this setup, but it seems that it will work, it will be simple, clean and follow the GTD worlflow.

When we can have multiple context per task, I can always start adding more context as needed.

I don't like using tags for this and I may decide to remove the Tag column as well. I currently use tags to flag Project related task, but I can simply look at the icon to determine this or add a "+" to the front of all these task as a marker. My goal is to have the simplest setup that works with GTD possible.

What do you guys think?

I may switch to this setup on my Pro Plus account this weekend and give it a real world run.

Thanks for any thoughts you may have.
Rory

Posted: Aug 06, 2009
Score: 0



I'm re-reading the book right now because of some great feedback you and Lance in particular gave me, so this is very interesting to me. I began to think about how I would do a GTD style setup in Toodledo and was thinking of something very similar.

I have a question about how you treat the actions list though: The actions list essentially contains projects with only one action. Since they're actionable, and they are the only step to completing that project, aren't these actions 'next actions' by definition?

One other question: How do you track incubated items that you want reminders on? From your setup, they would be in your Someday/Maybe folder, right?

An example from the book would be an idea for a meeting next year. Using a tickler folder you could just put that item in the folder for the month before the meeting. This would allow you to forget about it for a while, knowing that it will surface at the right time.

I'm assuming from your other posts that this would not go on your calendar (I'm coming round to the idea of how sacred the calendar is), so is there another way to get a reminder of something like this at the right time?
Proximo

Posted: Aug 06, 2009
Score: 0



@Rory,

The Action list contains individual actionable task, not projects. This is why I want a Project Folder. Everyone should have many individual task that are Action items and fewer Projects that have multiple actions required to complete them.

So there is an Action folder and a Project folder to distinguish the difference.

The Tickler Folder is a Great Idea. I will add a Tickler folder to this setup and create task with due dates in the future with a reminder that will be sent to me via. email or SMS when it's time to tickle me about it.

Good call.

So now the Folders I will create are:

1. In-box
2. Actions (Actionable Task)
3. Projects
4. Waiting For
5. Someday/Maybe
6. Tickler
Rory

Posted: Aug 06, 2009
Score: 0



I just meant that conceptually individual actions are just kind of like projects with only one step. If you think of them like that, then each individual action must be a next action since it's the only thing left to do.

I just messed around with using a search for an inbox and came up with something interesting whereby tickler items automatically appear in the inbox search when they are relevant.

I did this:

1) 'No folder' (or inbox folder) for items that haven't been processed
2) 'Tickler' folder for items that need to pop up at the right time. Each item in here has a start date set for the correct date.
3) Set up a search like this:

Checked off no AND
Folder is not Actions AND
Folder is not Projects AND
Folder is not Waiting For AND
Folder is not Someday/Maybe AND
Start date is not in the next 1000000000 days

This results in all unprocessed and tickler items for the day appearing in the search. Kind of like the idea of emptying the tickler folder for the current day into a physical inbox. The nice thing about this is that the calendar remains clear of these items, and is reserved just for actions with real due dates.
Rory

Posted: Aug 06, 2009
Score: 0



I just reread chapter 7 and it mentions checklists, so it might be worth considering a 'Checklists' folder. I like the idea of having checklists for things like processing a task, or performing your weekly review.
Vin Thomas

Posted: Aug 06, 2009
Score: 0



A great tool for checklists is http://checkvist.com

They don't have nearly the customization that Toodledo has, and doesn't serve as a full task manger, but they are great for simple checklists.
Mashton72

Posted: Aug 06, 2009
Score: 0



Hi there,
I've had Toodledo for a while now, and have been part implementing GTD for a while too. It's time for full GTD!! :)

Some thoughts.....

Starring for the next action is a great idea. I find messing around with search filters pretty time consuming. The toodledo interface kinda sux. I'm seriously considering writing my own frontend so I don't have to look at the lame Toodledo logo. Sorry Toodledo :(

You have Folders and Contexts. I use a folder for each project.

Perhaps have a recurring daily task (with e-mail reminder) to go through each project and star next actions.

Why have an actions folder when star indicates the next action?

Two minute tasks shouldn't be getting as far as your Inbox, you should be just doing them. Inputting a task seems to take me around 30s to a minute (longer if there are notes). That means you 2 min tasks are taking 3 mins.

If you are doing your 2 minute tasks then the idea of an Inbox is redundant too, it's just "No Folder".

Virtual folders with search criteria (views) would be nice. Then you could create a virtual Next Action folder by filtering all the starred tasks from the rest of the folders.

Thanks for posting your setup though, I'm still tweaking my system as well.

Scott
Mashton72

Posted: Aug 06, 2009
Score: 0



My bad...

Actually you can save searches, so you have have a Next Action search looking for starred tasks in all the folders.

I'm still learning.....
Rory

Posted: Aug 07, 2009
Score: 0



@Proximo

If you're using tasks for projects and subtasks for actions, how do you go about adding the action to a project?

It's pretty clunky to go from a task in your inbox and get it subtasked to the correct project task with this setup. You basically have to change the action task's folder to the projects folder, then drag it on to the correct project task to turn it into a subtask.

Really what we need here is hierarchical folders rather than hierarchical tasks.

I'm wondering whether using the status to flag waiting for, someday, tickler etc and switching back to folders for projects would be better?
Proximo

Posted: Aug 07, 2009
Score: 0



Posted by Rory:
@Proximo

If you're using tasks for projects and subtasks for actions, how do you go about adding the action to a project?

It's pretty clunky to go from a task in your inbox and get it subtasked to the correct project task with this setup. You basically have to change the action task's folder to the projects folder, then drag it on to the correct project task to turn it into a subtask.

Really what we need here is hierarchical folders rather than hierarchical tasks.

I'm wondering whether using the status to flag waiting for, someday, tickler etc and switching back to folders for projects would be better?


Rory,

This will be easier once Toodledo adds the move to project option inside of task. I believe this is in the works.

99.9% of the time, the items I add into my inbox for later processing won't be related to an existing project. They may become projects themselves, but for new task related to a particular project, I would do this inside the project task from the get go.
Proximo

Posted: Aug 07, 2009
Score: 0



By the way. I pulled the trigger and changed my setup to my new GTD Template if you will. So far, it's AWESOME.

I will make a short video to show you guys soon. This new setup really addresses so many issues I had. In fact, Projects are almost working the way I would want them too with this setup.

We still need some tweaks here and there such as having the option inside a task to "Move to" a project folder.

So far so good. Let's see how a full week of use works out. I am loving it so far.
Rory

Posted: Aug 07, 2009
Score: 0



Good point about adding new tasks directly to a project.

That's great that you've moved everything over so quickly. I'd love to hear a bit more about your setup if you post a video.

For example, how do you deal with repeating tasks? Say you have a repeating task to check the oil in your car, does this go in the tickler or in the actions list?

It's not actionable at the moment, so GTD says put it in the tickler to remind yourself. The problem with this is that you'll get the reminder at the right time, but you'd have to create a new action to go in your actions list to actually check the oil.

I've just put these in the action list with future start dates for now.

Also, how are you generating the list of actions you can work on at the current point in time? Are you purely using the stars to flag them?
Rory

Posted: Aug 07, 2009
Score: 0



Sorry, one more question: I wasn't quite clear about whether you just put the project tasks in the projects folder and put all of the subtasks for that project in the actions folder, or whether they're all in the projects folder. Which one is it?
Jon

Posted: Aug 07, 2009
Score: 0



Proximo, I used Vitalist for a year prior to coming to toodledo, so when I started Toodledo, I emulated the setup over there. So, I am set up very similar to what you have experimented with. I have the following folders:

Miscellaneous - same as the one you call actions
Projects
Someday
Tickler

I started out having an inbox, but have since quit using it. I just assign it to Miscellaneous or Projects from the start.

I use status to denote next action. I use star to denote the items I want to complete each week.

I find this system to work very well. My only wish is to be able to manually sort subtasks, but I get around this by using status and contexts to get them in the proper order.

Jon
Proximo

Posted: Aug 07, 2009
Score: 0



Posted by Rory:
Good point about adding new tasks directly to a project.

That's great that you've moved everything over so quickly. I'd love to hear a bit more about your setup if you post a video.

For example, how do you deal with repeating tasks? Say you have a repeating task to check the oil in your car, does this go in the tickler or in the actions list?

It's not actionable at the moment, so GTD says put it in the tickler to remind yourself. The problem with this is that you'll get the reminder at the right time, but you'd have to create a new action to go in your actions list to actually check the oil.

I've just put these in the action list with future start dates for now.

Also, how are you generating the list of actions you can work on at the current point in time? Are you purely using the stars to flag them?


First Question
I don't use repeating task. Call me crazy but that's the truth. When I need to change my oil, I make it an Actionable task in my "Actions" folder and get it done.

I would have to experiment with this.

Second Question
I use custom search to generate the list I require to work from. My custom search for Work related task looks like this:
Context is Work
Star = Yes
Folder = Actions
or
Folder = Projects

What this does is give me a list of all my Next Actions (Star) that are individual task in my Actions folder and it shows me all my Next Actions inside my Projects folder.

I use this view to Focus and work from.


This message was edited Aug 07, 2009.
Proximo

Posted: Aug 07, 2009
Score: 0



Posted by Rory:
Sorry, one more question: I wasn't quite clear about whether you just put the project tasks in the projects folder and put all of the subtasks for that project in the actions folder, or whether they're all in the projects folder. Which one is it?


I put only single task into my "Actions" folder and put all my Projects in my "Projects" folder. This includes the sub-task. I also choose to use Nested Task because I like that view better.

During my weekly review, as I decide witch task I will mark as Next Actions (Star), I simply go through the Projects and select the appropriate task.

With my custom search I mentioned above, they always show up for me to see them and Get Things Done.
Proximo

Posted: Aug 07, 2009
Score: 0



@Jon,

That's the beauty of Toodledo. It's the most customizable system out there and allows for many different productivity styles to work.

I choose GTD because I think it's the simplest and easiest to work with.
Fran├žois_1295899199

Posted: Dec 13, 2009
Score: 0



Hello I red your tweak and found it easy to understand. Anyway i wonder (apologies for this) why you made things so complicated ? I use GTD since 3 years and i found in the software a perfect system for GTD. You can have tasks grouped by projects, next action, etc... Even if you have to jump for finding things it perfectly works. The big inconvenient i found in your tweak is that you can't review project by project all yours tasks except if you make a search even automaticaly. I wonder if you win a lot of time and efficiency with your system and if you manage many projects as i do myself (about 15) chears.
Proximo

Posted: Dec 16, 2009
Score: 0



@Jupiter,

This is an older post from my GTD Setup but I will try to answer your question.

The reason I changed my setup from the standard Toodledo version is to mimic what GTD specific systems have done in the past.

GTD is about list and I simply wanted to have list similar to other GTD software like Things, Vitalist, Nozbe, Thinking Rock, etc.

The standard Toodledo setup would work, but it just did not feel like a GTD system to me.

Now my folders are my list... Action, Project, Waiting for, Someday/Maybe, etc.

I use context and tags to control everything else.

I manage my projects very easy with this setup because they are in their own area. So when I do my Review, I first go through all my single task (Actions) and then my Project list for all my projects. Very simple and easy.
c.barber78

Posted: Feb 21, 2010
Score: 0



Posted by Proximo:
1. Project Section (for better managing projects)

2. Sub-task functions (So they are easy to reorder and show up according to their status)

3. Multiple Context (To assign @Work and @Email, etc.)

4. Tags (better use of tags, how they are assigned and accessed)

Are you saying these things are on the way? I have just signed up for the toodledo free account and am comparing it to rtm, if these features are on the way then i am pretty damn sure i'll be going with toodledo :)
Cheers, look forward to a reponse to this
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