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Posted: Dec 26, 2011

Dear Jeff,

Thank you for putting together a great post. Please keep us updated on your investigation, which is a great service to all of us overworked people.

I like many aspects of Toodeldo for GTD, though have also encountered the problems you mention. I have a Toodledo configuration that works far better than the not-Toodledo software I was using before, but acknowledge that there may be something yet better out there. If you find it, let us know. Thanks again.

This message was edited Dec 26, 2011.

Posted: Dec 26, 2011

P. S. I wrote at length already about preferring contexts to folders for labeling projects, but forgot to add that I prefer "contexts" to "goals" since for project identification I do not need all the fussy detail of goals's threefold "short-long-lifetime" distinctions.

I do use "goals" a bit, however. I use "short-term" to identify non-ongoing projects due within a month. At present, I have 3 short-term goals.

I may start using the long and lifetime categories under "goals," but have not done so yet; at present I simply have a list of long and lifetime goals in a notebook page that I review and revise weekly.

Any tips people have on setting up long and lifetime goals would be most welcome!

Posted: Dec 26, 2011

I use neither "Goals" nor "Folders" for projects. I rejected "Folders" for projects mostly because having more folders bogged down my GTD daily review.

Here is what I do:

Step 1- CONTEXTS: I create twelve contexts with letter prefixes: a. ..., b. ..., through l.... Each corresponds to my twelve ongoing project areas; the letter prefix enables me to order the appearance of the project names.

Step 2 - TASK ENTRY: All project tasks I enter into ONE project folder without fussing with multiple folders. This is convenient, since I often enter tasks on the fly.

Step 3 - FIRST REVIEW: I look at all "no contexts" items in the "Projects" folder. I assign contexts to all of them (which takes no more than a few minutes).

Step 4 - SORT: Here is the first payoff: Using collapsed view, sorting by context gives you a marvelously convenient view of all your projects in the correct order (as imposed by the prefix lettering of contexts). This saves time for me, as compared with the cumbersome use of multiple project folders.

Step 5 - SUBTASK REVIEW: Here is the second payoff: quick outline software for ordering "next actions." I put my settings to allow reordering subtasks by dragging. Then I organize items WITHIN a context into tasks, each with ordered subtasks. In effect, using contexts gives me three-level outlining of tasks (=contexts), subtasks (=tasks), and sub-sub-tasks (=subtasks).

Third payoff: I do not need to bother with adding priority labels since dragging sub-sub-tasks gives me a fine-grained priority and task-dependency order.

Step 6 - FAST DAILY REVIEW: Having the additional level of sub-sub-tasks is the fourth, and biggest payoff. Sub-sub-tasks, the way I do them, are worded as "next actions." In the daily review, I simply skim a dozen or so of the most important sub-sub-tasks, and reassign them to my "Next Actions" folder. This takes almost no time or struggle. This method has greatly reduced the time of my daily review.

Step 7 - SPECIAL PROJECTS: In addition to my twelve standing projects (which I label via contexts), I tend to have only have one or two special projects at any given time. For each of these one or two special projects I simply make a separate folder which I delete at the project's conclusion.

OVERVIEW: Using contexts instead of separate folders permits an additional level of outlining in which Toodledo subtasks are, in effect, GTD sub-sub-tasks, that is: next actions. Taking a few morning minutes to reassign to the "Next Actions" folder a reasonable number of most important sub-sub-tasks from a single "Project" folder greatly simplifies daily review.

The pinch point is doing the hard thinking of moving from subtasks to sub-sub-tasks (= next actions). But this thinking cannot be escaped, so there it is. But the rest of it is mostly no-brainer processing requiring little energy or stress.

Other notes: I dedicate the tickler folder to items with alarms.

Star and priority categories are reserved for rare items, instead of turning into a mass of ambiguous data from overuse.