ForumsQuestionsNewbie needs help on organizational approach to toodledo

Newbie needs help on organizational approach to toodledo
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Posted: Nov 27, 2009
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I'm a GTD and toodledo newbie. I'm the guy that David talks about who has captured everything on lists, but don't have them organized, so they don't get acted upon.

So, I'm trying to figure out how to set things up in Toodledo.

The thing that most baffles my thought process is projects. The way I think about projects is best shown by example:

My project is to write an inventory system. Some of the major tasks would be:
- Interview Users
- Design System
- Build System
- Test System
- Implement System

But each of these has sub-tasks. For example, for the task Design System:
- Layout dataflow
- Design GUI
- Determine datastructures
And then each of these has subtasks. For example, take Design GUI:
- Determine Major Windows
- Determine Common Windows
- Determine Common Fields
And then each of these has it's own subtasks. For example, take Determine Major Windows:
- Determine Input Fields needed
- Determine Display fields needed
- Determine which common fields need to be used
- Layout the position of the fields
- Layout the order

etc., etc., etc.

And on top of that, I need to figure out some folders for myself. So what kind of folder would I find this in? Career? Work? ABC Corp? Inventory Project?

And this is just one project amongst all the things to do. Can someone point me to some reading material which will help guide me on setting things up from a structure/thinking process to make GTD work for me?

Posted: Dec 04, 2009
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So it seems you have everyone stumped! Sorry to see no one has replied.

In my opinion you are nesting things too deeply...making the whole process more complicated than it needs to be. You are thinking in terms of an MS Project style project plan where things can go 20 levels deep. GTD really seeks to simplify things, not make them more complicated.

Ultimately your tasks are:

I do understand the desire/need to track where those tasks fall in the "greater scheme of life" so I have a few suggestions that may help. Also I'm going to assume you're a Pro subscriber. If you aren't I would highly suggest you upgrade.

I'd combine your last two sections into subtasks under the items you listed second. An example...

Design GUI (parent task - I'd use a _Project context)
- Determine Input Fields needed for Major Windows
- Determine Display fields needed for Major Windows
- Determine which common fields need to be used for Major Windows

You could use tags to indicate what level of the project each parent and child fall under. I think for the parent and children listed above the tag would be Design System.

If you don't like losing the "Major Windows" layer of nesting you could always add that as another tag. So your task would be "Determine Input Fields" under the "Design GUI" parent with tags of "Design System, Major Windows".

Using this method you would be able to run reports (searches) based on each level of the project which is what I think your ultimate goal is.

I hope this gives you a start...feel free to ask questions, I'll be around.

Posted: Dec 04, 2009
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OH! I forgot to mention goals.

Goals could be used to manage your project as well. Let's take that "Determine Input Fields needed" task.

You could have that under a "Major Windows" parent task. That Major Windows parent task could be "under" a short-term goal of "Design System" with a tag of "Design GUI".

In the end I think you are just looking for ways to figure out what's what. Tags are certainly your friend when it comes to organization but keep in mind that making things too complicated will cause you to work on the system more than the tasks within the system.

You mentioned folders as well. Personally I use them for the clients I have as a consultant. But even when I was in the corporate world I had clients. Supply chain, AP, HR, etc.

You should explore goals for the Career folder you mentioned. Inventory Project could just be a tag...or if you prefer not to use the client methodology a folder. Not sure what ABC Cleaners is about. ;-)
Kelly Regan

Posted: Dec 04, 2009
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Pretty new here also but I do it the way you showed us in you first example.

I build custom homes so tasks with sub tasks for each home.
I create a folder for each home.

Folder = Home #1 - Home #2 - Home #3

Inside each folder is the list of tasks and sub tasks

A1) Contract

A2) Plans

A3) Permits

B1) Demolition

B2) Foundations

This goes on for the entire list. Each folder has the same list for the most part. I also have a couple of other folders like Other To Do's or whatever.

This message was edited Dec 04, 2009.

Posted: Dec 08, 2009
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Hi! I understand your pain; I think everyone goes through an awkward "teething process" while they find a system that suits the way they think and the type of tasks they have to do. I'm afraid to say it's unlikely to be a one-off process, you'll probably be tweaking for a while before you find the right one for you. If it's any help I'll let you know how I'd do it if I were you; it might not suit you but hopefully it'll help give you a few ideas. Rather than repeat myself, I'll direct you to my previous posts outlining the basics of how I map GTD onto Toodledo: (my post is second from the end) (mine is the last comment in the thread)

For the kind of project you outline above, I would probably use short term goals to represent the overall objective (e.g. write inventory system), then use tasks/subtasks for each of the subprojects.

I prefer using tasks with subtasks rather than folders or goals to represent GTD-style projects (i.e. any task that should be broken down into a series of actions) as they are more flexible, can have due dates, and can easily be created "on the fly", whereas folders seem more suited to broad, unchanging areas of focus/responsibility like "home", "work", "family" etc. These levels (sub-task, "project" task & folder) are roughly analagous to David Allens first few "Horizons of Focus", and work well for day-to-day use of the task list.

Short term goals can be used to represent those large scale projects that are too complex to outline in only two levels (tasks/subtasks), like the one you give in your example. I equate goals to the higher level "Horizons" in GTD. So short term goals would be the key things I want to achieve over the next few weeks to a year (GTD's 30,000 feet "goals & objectives" level), long term goals focus on the longer term "visions" (40,000 feet in GTD), and lifetime goals are the 50,000ft "purposes and values".

This all maps pretty easily onto Toodledo, & makes it a nice neat system that fits well with how David Allen lays things out in GTD.
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