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Proximo's GTD Setup



AuthorMessage
Proximo

Posted: Aug 07, 2009
Score: 69



I wanted to share my new GTD setup with Toodledo. While this may not work for everyone, I still think people will benefit from looking at how we all use Toodledo.

My Goal in creating this setup was simple. I wanted to make Toodledo appear as if it was designed for GTD specifically. Because Toodledo is so customizable, I believe I have succeeded in my mission.

My Toodledo GTD Setup

Folders:
1. Inbox
2. Actions
3. Projects
4. Waiting For
5. Someday/Maybe
6. Ticklers

Context:
1. Work
2. Personal
3. Team (My Business)
- Any other context that is location specific or something that stands out on it's own.
- I don't use Context such as @Email or @Phone.

Active Columns:
1. Star
2. Folder
3. Context
4. Due Date
5. Length

Processing
1. Actionable = Actions Folder
2. Multi-Step = Project Folder
3. Next Action = Star
4. Delegated = Waiting For Folder
5. Planning = Someday/Maybe Folder
6. Reminders = Ticklers Folder

Key Concepts:
1. Next Actions = Stars.

2. Projects = Parent task with +symbol (+Create Site).

3. Sub-task = Short name of project. (Site: Task Name).

4. I use Nested Task to keep things clean.

5. Sort your folders by Star, Context, and Due Date.

6. Create Custom Searches for Next Actions specific to a Context

Example: Custom Search

Search Name = "Next Actions - Work"
1. Context is Work
2. Starred is Yes
3. Folder is "Actions"
or
4.Folder is "Projects"

Notes:

1. Filter your folders by Context:
- example, If you are in the Actions folder and at work, filter by the Context @Work to see what is relevant to you at that time.

2. Work from your "Next Actions - Work" list, so that you only see task marked with the Star (Next Actions) on the Actions folder and Nested Task with a Star on your Projects folder.

The End

I will post a brief video soon, to show you my setup in action.


This message was edited Aug 08, 2009.
Tyler

Posted: Aug 09, 2009
Score: -1



This is great -- thanks for taking the time to post this. I'm looking forward to the video.

I really like hearing the details about how other people are doing this.

(I'm still waffling around, trying to figure out my set up....)
Stephan Waldeis

Posted: Aug 09, 2009
Score: 2



Yes, many thanks also from my end. A video would be very handy.
loganhale

Posted: Aug 11, 2009
Score: -1



@Proximo

Thanks so much. Question: How are you defining "Action" versus "Next Action?" Just read GTD and trying to implement via Toodledo. But I get a sense that all Actions are Next Actions.... I would appreciate you sharing your method on the subject because I can see how prioritizing certain actions over others can be helpful but just not sure if that muddies the system or positively enhances it. My guess would be that your method positively enhances how you use GTD/ZTD. Again, would appreciate you sharing your methodology.
Proximo

Posted: Aug 11, 2009
Score: 2



@loganhale

You may have missed it, but I mention in my setup that I use the "Star" for my Next Actions.

I also mentioned that I sort with Star first to make sure in my Actions folder, the Next Actions are always on top.

In GTD there is a difference between your Action List and Next Actions. Next Actions are the task that you decide need to be done Next when you do your weekly review or any mini review during the week. They can all live in your Actions folder under one list, but the Star clearly identifies the task you will work on Next.

I use a custom search to filter out my Next Actions (Star) by context in order for me to see only a list of things I will be working on and focused on for the week. This is very key for me because the main list is only used for my weekly reviews or any mini reviews during the week.

Staying focused on the task that need to be done Next is very important in making GTD work for you.

Hope this helps

EDIT: I hope to create a short video today on my setup. The video will not go into too much detail but simply show how the setup would look like and give you a sense on how things flow. Like I said, it's not for everyone and that is why sharing is so important in these forums.


This message was edited Aug 11, 2009.
Anders

Posted: Aug 11, 2009
Score: 0



Proximo, I have started "the book" and am very much looking forward to your video. I think it would be pretty cool if we could have a single thread for people to post screencasts. I wonder if Vin would mind you adding your video to his thread...
Then again, I could always just wait until there are a few more posted, and link to them all from a thread. Anyway, great stuff.
Vin Thomas

Posted: Aug 11, 2009
Score: -1



That would be fine with me. I have been thinking about putting together a screencast for quite some time. Maybe this week will be that time ☺

I look forward to Proximo's screencast. I feel like there are little tweaks that could be made to my system to make it more efficient. Sometimes I feel that (in spite of the aweomeness that is Toodledo) things fall through the cracks. It is a matter of constant refining.
Anders

Posted: Aug 11, 2009
Score: 0



I'm in the middle of a major overhaul of my system like what Proximo has done. So this kind of stuff is very useful to me, especially video. You never know exactly how something will work until you try, or at least see it.
Proximo

Posted: Aug 12, 2009
Score: 1



I apologize the video was not posted tonight. It's past midnight, I just put my little princess (2 year old) to bed and my eyes burn like fire.

I will squeeze this in tomorrow. I use Jing so the videos will be short. I may do 2 videos to cover everything.

I would host the videos on my own site but I just left my hosting service and I am hunting for a new one.

It's time for some sleep. Good night.
Vin Thomas

Posted: Aug 12, 2009
Score: 0



I use Jing too. It is a great service, but it would be nice to have longer videos.

As an aside, if you're looking for a good host, I recommend Bluehost. They are affordable shared hosting, but they offer 24/7 phone support. They are great compared to the rest.

I look forward to your video.
Proximo

Posted: Aug 12, 2009
Score: 13



Proximo's GTD Setup Videos

First Video: Basic folder structure for GTD
http://screencast.com/t/X8BaPz3l1z

Second Video: GTD Flow using Folders, Context and Search
http://screencast.com/t/jZwW8MocuY


This message was edited Aug 12, 2009.
Proximo

Posted: Aug 12, 2009
Score: -1



Notes on my Videos:

Sorry about the network lag in my videos. Toodledo normally runs instantaneously, but something is going on with the traffic at the office when I recorded the videos.

I was going to add the videos to the original post on top, but I don't have the option to edit anymore.

Maybe Jake can move it up there.


This message was edited Aug 12, 2009.
Vin Thomas

Posted: Aug 12, 2009
Score: 1



@Proximo,

Great videos. I think if I could start over I would use a lot of your tips. But I am afraid I am too deep into it to do this casually. Maybe this needs to become a project in and of itself.

Thanks!
Rory

Posted: Aug 12, 2009
Score: 2



Great videos, thanks for posting them up. I think your setup is really good. I love the look that you have for Toodledo too. I have a bunch of questions and comments I wrote down while watching the video and I would be grateful if you could give me your opinion on some of these. There are a lot of questions here I'll warn you... :)

I noticed that your tickler items have due dates, so they show up in your calendar, right? After you and Lance convinced me that the calendar is sacred, I tried to avoid this with my tickler items. When I assign an item to the tickler, I set a start date. This way I can use a custom search for my inbox to match items with no folder (or some designated inbox folder) or tickler items that don't start in the future. This seems inline with the concept of dumping the contents of a tickler folder into the inbox, and also not having these things clutter up the calendar.

One of the things holding me back from switching to using tasks for projects is that I tend to just dump things into the inbox (from the website, phone etc) when I think of them, then process them later. So often I'll put something relevant to an existing project into the inbox, then have to move it to the correct project. I couldn't find a quick or easy way to do this in one step, since I had to first assign the task to the projects folder, and then put it as a sub-task into the correct project task. Often I think of these things in random places, so adding them to the correct project at that time is often impractical due to only having my phone on me, or just a shortage of time. How do you deal with little things that crop up like this? Do you just remember them until you have time to put the directly into the project, or do you dump them in the inbox and perform a multi-step process to them later?

I got some good tips from watching the video, like sorting the contexts (well I use tags) views by folder. That makes a lot more sense to me. It's funny, I too use saved searches for filtering out all of the unnecessary cruft in my action lists. I added an extra search for what I'm calling 'errors'. Here I find out if I've done something silly like put something in the tickler folder without setting a date on it.

I found it interesting how few contexts you use. I've got quite a lot right now, so that's definitely some food for thought for me. I'm using tags so that I can flag things as, say, "@Home, @JoeBloggs" but I've realized that I never actually search for pairs of tags at all. This probably means I don't need tags, and could work with the inbuilt contexts. I find myself working off searches in broader contexts. For example, my home actionable search includes items tagged as any of a bunch of contexts, like "@Home, @Phone, @Online, @Email". This could be collapsed into a single @Personal context as you have, but I suppose I'd lose the ability to search quickly for things like phone calls or emails.

What do you use the length field for?

I kind of asked you this before, but I don't really understand why you would have something in your actions list that isn't flagged with a star. To make it into the actions list, it must be actionable, so by not starring it you lose the ability to perform that action when the context may be right. For example, you may have an action to call someone, but it isn't starred right now since it's not critical. Suppose you find yourself with 10 minutes to spare and your phone in hand. Since the task isn't starred, it doesn't appear on your radar even though in theory it can be completed.

Apologies for the length of this post, but your videos prompted lots of questions running through my head. Again, thank you for posting them - they have been illuminating for me.
Proximo

Posted: Aug 13, 2009
Score: 5



@Rory,

Great questions. I will try my best to answer them.

Calendar

You are correct in that my Ticklers appear in the Toodledo Calendar. The Calendar is sacred, but I don't use the Toodledo Calendar at all. So the ticklers that may show up there are irrelevant to me.

My main calendar is Google Calendar. This is where my task with due dates are added so that I can visualize them during my Weekly Reviews. I end up getting two reminders for these task. One from Toodledo and one from Google Calendar. I am OK with this.

One of my request to Toodledo is for reminders without due dates. This will be perfect for Ticklers, but for now, I have two choices. Use Star Date or Due Dates. I don't like adding any more columns that I need to, so I stick with due dates for my Ticklers. Again, it may show in the Toodledo Calendar, but this does not matter to me.

Projects

When I add a task to the inbox, I may or may not know if it belongs to an existing project at the time, but in most cases I would. What I do is name the task with a short description of the project as I mention in my setup above. I move it to the projects folder and drag it into the correct project.

This is another feature request I have as well as many others. The ability to add a task directly to a project and to control the order of sub-task. For now, I have no faster way of doing this so I manage as is.

Context

I used to have many different Context, but I eventually realized that I don't benefit from using so many in my environment. My computer, phone, email, internet are all in front of me. After a while, I decided that very broad context work best for me and it allows my new GTD Setup to work best.

Task Length

Length of a task is an important part of GTD. You use Context, Time and Energy in determining what you will be doing. Many times I only have a limited amount of time in my day and I can use the Length field to decide what can be done in that given time I have. The Toodledo scheduler is great for this. This is true even if the task is not currently a "Next Action". Remember that you have your Big Rocks identified, but GTD allows for flexibility according to the current situation.

Next Actions

The Action list is every task that is actionable and needs to get done. You can't do them all at once, so this is where the importance of "Next Actions" come into play. I use the star to identify the "Next Actions" and keep focus on accomplishing them. Many GTD based apps. do it in this same way.

How you identify your Next Actions is up to you, but you should always have Next Actions. Next Actions allow you to focus on the Big Rocks of the day. Again, this does not mean you don't have the flexibility to tackle other things as your Context, Time and Energy dictate.

The Weekly Review is how I identify these Next Actions but I also do a Mini Review. These are smaller reviews of my task during the week that help me identify that quick phone call I can make or something that takes very little time or energy to accomplish.

Next Actions should be your focus and the most important task for you to get done at the time, but always remember that the power of GTD is the flexibility you have in decided on what you do based on the situation. This is why using actual priorities is not something used in GTD. There are always priorities, but they are identified by your weekly reviews, Next Actions and your current Context, Time and Energy.

I love GTD. :-) The Big Rocks are identified, but you get to tackle the pebbles along the way.

I hope this helped answer your questions. Remember that GTD can be accomplished in different ways and that the core concepts have a lot of flexibility built into them. You tailor to your needs.
Rory

Posted: Aug 13, 2009
Score: -1



Thanks for all of the response Proximo. I'm going to investigate using the task length off the back of all this. I tried to get the live sync to google calendar working, but it just doesn't work for me for some reason.

As for next actions, I understand those for projects, but when there is only one action that can be performed (so it would not be a project, and would be in the actions list) then there's really no such thing. Or I suppose you could say that if there is only one action to complete an item, then it must be the next action.

I flag all of my tasks in the actions folder with a star, since I've already decided they're actionable and relevant. If they're not, then they're not in that folder (they would be in the tickler probably). This leaves me with about 80 items in the actions folder, any of which can be completed at any time as long as I have the correct context. I don't like to narrow those down, since the wide variety of contexts might mean that I could complete different tasks depending on my current situation, and I can't necessarily predict which contexts I will be in even for the upcoming day. Using a greater number of more explicit contexts makes it easy to narrow down those 80 tasks to a much smaller number based on my current situation.

Different strokes for different folks I suppose!
Linden

Posted: Aug 13, 2009
Score: -1



Thanks for sharing the videos, Proximo -- it made your system worlds clearer.

I'm not sure I'll adopt all of it, but you've inspired me to spend some time pondering what elements I can incorporate to SIMPLIFY my current system.
Proximo

Posted: Aug 13, 2009
Score: -1



Posted by Linden:
Thanks for sharing the videos, Proximo -- it made your system worlds clearer.

I'm not sure I'll adopt all of it, but you've inspired me to spend some time pondering what elements I can incorporate to SIMPLIFY my current system.


I am glad my videos where helpful. The idea here is for people to share their implementations, so that we can tweak our own system if needed.

There will be many GTDers in Toodledo, that would use a completely different setup than mine and that is the cool thing about Toodledo.
Anders

Posted: Aug 13, 2009
Score: 2



Proximo, I just watched the first, and it's great stuff. I really appreciate your sharing this with us. I am reconfiguring my system right now, and you have some great methods of simplifying without reducing utility that I will be sure to keep in mind.

I am going to watch the sequel in a minute, but I just wanted to mention that I had to restart the video because I was laughing too hard about your pronunciation issue. I thought I was the only one! I still find myself calling it Too-dul-ee-doo sometimes, but it is actually not correct. See here: http://www.toodledo.com/forums/6/1756/0/pronunciation.html
That was actually my first topic started in the Toodledo forums :)

Update: I just watched number 2, brilliant! I did not understand why you would use the "Project" folder at all when I read your post, but when you got to Saved Searches in the video, I completely saw the light. There are so many cool things in there, and I have several questions/comments, but I will reserve them until after a second viewing. Thanks.


This message was edited Aug 13, 2009.
Proximo

Posted: Aug 14, 2009
Score: 1



Posted by Anders:
Proximo, I just watched the first, and it's great stuff. I really appreciate your sharing this with us. I am reconfiguring my system right now, and you have some great methods of simplifying without reducing utility that I will be sure to keep in mind.

I am going to watch the sequel in a minute, but I just wanted to mention that I had to restart the video because I was laughing too hard about your pronunciation issue. I thought I was the only one! I still find myself calling it Too-dul-ee-doo sometimes, but it is actually not correct. See here: http://www.toodledo.com/forums/6/1756/0/pronunciation.html
That was actually my first topic started in the Toodledo forums :)

Update: I just watched number 2, brilliant! I did not understand why you would use the "Project" folder at all when I read your post, but when you got to Saved Searches in the video, I completely saw the light. There are so many cool things in there, and I have several questions/comments, but I will reserve them until after a second viewing. Thanks.


Anders,

Thanks for the great comments and THANK YOU for setting me straight in the correct way to say Toodledo. :-)

Now I have to get used to saying it right. :-(
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