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Rory

Posted: Aug 31, 2009
From Topic: Proximo's GTD Setup



Posted by mmladousa:
Can you post the parameters for that inbox/tickler search?


Yes, I have this:

Match Any of the following criteria:

- Checked off 'No' AND folder is 'No Folder'
OR
- Checked off 'No' AND folder is 'Tickler' AND Start Date is in the last 1000 days

I tried larger numbers than 1000 days, but for some reason I didn't get back the correct results. I figure that if I haven't completed a task after 3+ years then I'm doing something wrong. In the last 1000 days matches today as well.
Rory

Posted: Aug 31, 2009
From Topic: Proximo's GTD Setup



The tickler is supposed to be for reminders, not really for tasks per se.

For example, I might drop something in there that a video game I'm interested in is released on a certain day. I may or may not want to act on that reminder when I get it (or maybe I want to decide at the time how to act on it), but at least I'll get reminded of it. I use it for a whole variety of things, like reminders for birthdays, anniversaries, books, games etc.

I have a custom search set up for my inbox which incorporates tasks in the 'No Folder' folder, and also tickler items that have a start date before and including today. This way, tickler items just show up in my inbox on the correct day, as if I'd just added them, and then I decide what to do with them at that point. I did this based on the idea I read in the GTD book of dumping a physical tickler folder into your physical inbox.

My Someday/Maybe items are things I don't really need to start thinking about on a particular date. They also tend to be larger concepts.


This message was edited Aug 31, 2009.
Rory

Posted: Aug 31, 2009
From Topic: Proximo's GTD Setup



Posted by Proximo:
One of my complaints with Toodledo is that every time you add a field, it adds it to the main GUI. I don't want to see a "Start Date" column for something I won't use much.


I totally agree with you here - that does bother me a bit. It would be nice if the layout were smart and filled the available space with any data that has been set. I appreciate that this could be a bit of a tricky thing to implement though.
Rory

Posted: Aug 31, 2009



Me too. I extensively use searches on the website to provide many useful views of my tasks. I'd love the ability to do the same from the iPhone.
Rory

Posted: Aug 31, 2009



I'm a bit late to the party here, I know.

I'm pretty strict with making sure that all of my projects have next actions, and that all of my single actions are next actions (since that's what I believe they are by definition).

Like proximo, I use stars to denote this state, but I also heavily use tags to really quickly narrow down the massive list of next actions to those that I can work on in any situation.

This works well for me since I use the iPhone app to determine what to do a lot of the time. As I'm sitting at work waiting for yet another compile to complete, it's really easy for me to quickly fit in a small task if I can.
Rory

Posted: Aug 31, 2009
From Topic: Proximo's GTD Setup



Posted by wjlynch:
How are you guys handling routine tasks in your system? Things like working out, laundry, etc.


I use start dates for this. I create a task, star it, set the start date to whenever I'd like to first see that task, and then set it to repeat from the completion date (not the due date). I hit the 'Hide Future Tasks' filter to make sure I don't see them in my lists. The iPhone app also supports this filter, so this method works there too.

This works out well for me, since I don't worry about tasks in the future because I don't see them, and I know that they will appear in the correct list at the correct time.

I initially tried using the tickler for things like this, but it was a bit of a burden to transfer them around all of the time, and it was easy to make a mistake. Now I just use the tickler for items I don't necessarily know I'm going to act on.

One interesting benefit is that having the start date present on a task is a good reminder of how long that task has been waiting to be done. Since it's not a due date, it doesn't show up on the calendar or anything, so in most respects its like a normal task.
Rory

Posted: Aug 14, 2009
From Topic: Proximo's GTD Setup



Posted by Proximo:

(From the book) "We are all accountable to define what, if anything, we are committed to make happen as we engage with ourselves and others. And at some point, for any outcome that we have an internal commitment to complete, we must make the decision about the next physical action required."

This does not apply only to projects, but your Actions List. When you go over your Actions List, you are trying to determine what you will do "Next" based on Context, Time, Energy and Priority.


I guess this is where we interpret things differently. Anything that goes onto my Actions list I already have an internal commitment to complete, so by the definition they are next actions since they are the only actions. If I don't have a commitment to complete the outcome at the moment, then the item is on my tickler or someday/maybe lists.

I guess I don't see how you can decide at the beginning of the day which of your actions you are going to have the correct amount of time, energy and context for at some point later that day. I make that decision on the fly throughout the day when I have some spare time. This is where my iphone and multiple contexts (and using tags to combine contexts) come into play. When I have a bit of time and nothing else to do, then I use the Toodledo iPhone app to look at the tags for my current context and see what I feel like doing based on my energy level. This way I can complete an action that may not have seemed particularly relevant that morning in processing, but I suddenly find myself with the time, context and energy to complete.

Because all actions in my Actions list are Next Actions, I only need to update Next Actions for projects (too many 'actions' in that sentence!). I find this system fairly intuitive for me. The one thing I dislike about this is that when I complete a next action for a project, I have to either choose a new next action immediately, or wait a day for my brief daily processing to do the same thing.

I wonder whether part of the difference between our approaches is due to the fact that I'm using the iPhone app to quickly narrow down the available actions based on my context on the fly? I guess if I didn't have that, and had to print out an action list for the day then I'd have to use an approach more like yours.
Rory

Posted: Aug 14, 2009
From Topic: Versioning



That sounds great. Thanks for the info.
Rory

Posted: Aug 14, 2009
From Topic: Versioning



Are there any plans for dealing with data versioning? I assume that the schema won't stay exactly the same forever, so I was wondering how this will be handled?

I'm certainly not near the point where I have to worry about this, but it would be nice for my app to at least acknowledge if Toodledo is responding with a newer version of the data than my app can handle.
Rory

Posted: Aug 13, 2009
From Topic: Proximo's GTD Setup



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!
Rory

Posted: Aug 12, 2009
From Topic: Proximo's GTD Setup



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.
Rory

Posted: Aug 12, 2009



It seems like a shame that one of the main reasons that people choose not to use folders for projects is simply that they are not as quick as tasks to manage.

I personally use folders for projects, and I agree that it's jarring to have to leave your current screen when processing your inbox in order to create a project.

I also dislike the fact that they list horizontally across the screen as many others do.

Is Mr Toodledo planning on working on these things? It would be really nice to be able to create a new folder by typing in a name in the folder dropdown, similar to how you can click the special button next to the date drop down to type in a custom date.
Rory

Posted: Aug 07, 2009



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?
Rory

Posted: Aug 07, 2009



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



@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

Posted: Aug 06, 2009



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.
Rory

Posted: Aug 06, 2009



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



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?
Rory

Posted: Aug 05, 2009



Thanks for the help. I suppose I'm worried that my home context may have a lot of next actions in it, and I might miss the "place book in bag" in the noise of other things which may be unimportant (relatively speaking).

This brings me on to my second question which I've seen here before, but I don't think it was really answered.

Say I have 5 tasks in my project, and they're all around 5 minutes to complete. They're all also in the exact same context, say @home. One of them is flagged next action.

So I see the next action for this project and complete it one day while I'm at home. At this point I'm actually able to complete all of the other tasks in the project, but since I'm working off the next action list I don't see them. Even if I review my projects daily to select a new next action, it would take me 5 days to complete a 25 minute project.

The project may not be time sensitive, but it seems that the day long gap between the next actions is an artifact of the period between project reviews. If I didn't have anything else on my home context at the time then I might spend my time doing other less useful things (like loafing around) when I have the time and the energy to complete the project. This doesn't seem right to me.

One alternative is to always select the next "next action" whenever I complete the previous one, but this seems overly tedious.

I know that Toodledo doesn't support having a specified task order, and that this would allow next actions to follow in a progression automatically. But this idea of automatic task progression doesn't seem to be part of core GTD either, so how does that work for the purists?
Rory

Posted: Aug 05, 2009



Thanks again for the responses - I can't tell you how helpful it is to hear these points of view. I've been thinking about the 'calendar is sacred' point a little more. It definitely makes sense, but I'm still unclear about some things.

I'm a learn-by-example kind of guy, so here's mine: Say I'm talking to someone at work, and tell them I'm going to bring a book in for them to read. There's no actual firm date set, but you could say that there may be a social expectation that I'll do so within a week.

I jot down the task via my iPhone to Toodledo. That night, I'm processing my inbox (in Toodledo and I come across the task "Bring book X to work for Joe Bloggs". I'm still reading this book, but I'm right at the end and expect to finish it within 2 days. How do I deal with this?

The GTD way goes through some questions during the processing phase. The first of which is, "is it actionable?". Well no, not at this point. I'm still reading the book so it gets put in some incubate/tickler folder, perhaps scheduled to pop up in 3 days or so.

Question 1) The tickler seems kind of like the main calendar in that specific items pop up at certain times, but it's no firm commitment. How does one do this in Toodledo without it getting mixed up with the firm commitments calendar?

Question 2) Say I finish the book, so the task is now actionable. I now flag the task as next action, and it goes onto my grand list of next actions. How do I prevent that task from getting lost in there? The book mentions the concept of having 100 tasks on this list, so it seems that it would be really easy to not notice a task. I could actually get myself to remember that I need to bring the book in, but that defeats the point of the system. I guess the question really is, in GTD, how do you track the difference between a task you'd like to get done in the next few days but there's no firm commitment, and all of the other tasks?

For question 2 I'd be interested in hearing the answer from a GTD purist's perspective, and also from the plain Toodledo perspective (like I could see that maybe I could use priorities here).

I have a second example about next next-actions based on another post I read here but didn't really see an answer to. I'll wait on that question so that I don't dilute the responses.
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