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Trying to sink my teeth into GTD, but it isn't coming naturally
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Linda M

Posted: Jan 08, 2012
Score: 0 Reference
I'm really trying to sink my teeth into GTD and figure out how to make it work for me.

But I'm just not "taking to" the GTD methodology. It doesn't feel natural to me. It feels as though it starts at the bottom with the details, and then as an afterthought, throws in goals, values, and vision down the road.

<u>Is there anyone else here at ToodleDo who has a similar approach or way of thinking to mine? I.e. start with my goals and values, and imagine and build a good enough structure ("database") and process (how items "move around" the database), so that the vision, goals, values are in the foreground, not in the background</u>.

Such a structure and process would make me organized through the lens of my values and goals, using these things as my overriding principles.

When I sit down to process my inbox, or later on to execute actions, tasks should most saliently reflect their relation to my life vision. Next most salient is what can or must do right now.

In GTD as far as I can tell, the most salient thing about a list of tasks is some arbitrary lines in the sand, some arbitrarily named set of "projects".

Since we're freed from the paper world, we are freed from thinking in terms of paper clips, folders, file drawers, etc. The meta-system we can use to manage getting things done can reflect something different entirely.

I think GTD was defined when the world mostly used paper clips, folders, etc. If I institute a methodical, mechanical, non-feeling, non-valued data structure and process from the bottom up, I'll end up with an efficient system which doesn't reflect my goals or vision in life. And it very well might not recognize and pull together larger patterns of getting things done.

Maybe GTD is not for me... But then, how do I build something a data structure and a process which is for me?

If you've found yourself feeling the same way about GTD, how did you resolve it?

Thus far I've got over 100 tasks, and I got rid of all Projects, Contexts, Locations, Tags. I identified Goals. But I must have missed defining some of my goals because there are a lot of tasks on my list for which I can't set the goal, yet I know I need to do something with them. A lot of them are infrastructure tasks, maintenance tasks (e.g. scanning computer for malware).

In a sense, currently my "Inbox" is all of the tasks for I have which I have not set a "Goal".

Also, I naturally think in hierarchies - and to only have Goals and then Tasks under each goal is very limiting. I don't want to create a very long list of Goals, because that'll get unmanageable. I was hoping to identify around 10 goals. But if the number of Goals is too short, then list of tasks within a goal would get very long, and since there is no way to maintain a definite order within a Goals set of tasks, I can't easily find prerequisites. I would have to use "Start date" or something similar to artificially capture that information.

Do I need to create a much longer list of more specific goals? But that seems unmanageable to have lots of artificial goals, and unnatural. I've thought about creating check-lists of subtasks within each task in the notes field, but that hides them away from most ToodleDo functions. And it only gives me one more level. If I move to the Pro subscription, I would get 3 levels: Goal, Task, Subtask. But I'm still going to have a problem if I need more depth to my structure.

If I had no limitation on depths of levels in a hierarchy, my first problem would be solved. I.e. each list of things at each level could be made a reasonable length by creating a subtree and pushing sub-items into the subtree when needed. Any task would go into the level with the tasks it naturally belongs with. Any task at any level which feels overwhelming and thus needs to be broken down into smaller steps could be split out into smaller subtasks.

Of course, there's still the second problem, how to encode task order - indicating prerequisites. I shouldn't have to jam this information into the notes field or some other place. I shouldn't have to remember it. I should be able to naturally record prerequisites in the system. One danger: I can't do X until I do A, B, and C. I can't do C until I do Y. I can't do Y until I do X; so if the system provided a prerequisite feature, it would need to detect dependency "loops".

I'm reading

Also, some of the PDFs I downloaded from D. Allen's site. For example, there's a free flow chart labeled GTD Workflow Processing and Organizing. There's also a free pdf doc called Mastering Workflow (filename is 5_Phases.pdf) I downloaded these free references last July, and I don't recall the URLs I used to fetch them.

QUESTION: When processing the items which have come into the inbox, the first decision is either one of two questions:

"Is this item actionable?" OR "What's the desired outcome?"

At least, this is what I have garnered from the FLOWCHART I mentioned.

My intuition tells me to ask "what's the desired outcome?" because it gets at the big picture, and I feel better when I do more actions which are in alignment with my values and goals. And I feel much worse - very irritated, frustrated and even mad - when too many of my actions don't coincide with what I value and what goals I want to achieve in life.

However, "What's the desired outcome?" is an open-ended question, with a more vague answer than "Is this actionable?" which gives a simple Yes/No answer.

The process is not tailored around the two most important questions (to me at least):

"What is the relationship between this item and my values?"
"What is the relationship between this item and my life goals?"

Those are what I want to ask first. After I have some understanding of those two answers, THEN I could go on with a process of putting the task where it belongs and marking it with attributes I'll need for later processing, based on my understanding.

But since this process goes with the simpler approach of using a Yes/No question, let's suppose for the moment I go with that:

"Is this item actionable?" How do I answer that question? How do you answer that question? What basis do I use for answering whether the item I'm processing is actionable? What if I don't think it is actionable right now, but maybe later in time I would think it is actionable, but since I don't have a crystal ball, I don't know that yet?

In a philosophical way, every item is actionable, to me.

Can you narrow down the definition of "actionable" - how do you mean it, when you ask yourself this question in GTD?

Are you helping yourself by making knee-jerk fast, nearly unconscious judgments about whether something is actionable?

Let's suppose I get over the hurdle of answering Yes or No to "is actionable?" question.

Then, the second decision to be made is "What is/are the action(s) for this item?"

How does one strike a balance between
(a) not giving enough thought to the answer to this question and quickly shoveling it away (advantage: efficiency at the expense of open-mindedness) and

(b) giving too much thought to the question and getting bogged down in many different possibilities if I were to tweak my perspective of the world a little bit (advantage: more opportunities and flexibility for creating change in my life, for knowing for sure that the actions I execute will correlate with my intentions = better karma at the expense of speed)

So continuing with GTD process: I ask myself "What's the next action(s)?"

What if I don't know what the action(s) are for an item? What if I think something is actionable, have a sense that it should be done in the next few days, but I don't understand yet how it is actionable? Do I put it one of the 'tickler' folders or lists?

How often will I review the tickler lists?

What if the time window for me to execute my action has passed before I go back to review my tickler list? Or there's not enough 'leeway' because something needs to be processed (e.g. sent via postal mail, or a previously unidentified process takes 48 hours, 2 days, etc)

Let's say I know the next action, I know it's a single item and it'll take me less than 2 minutes. I do it. If I'll need to know later that I did it, then I can enter it into a GTD system and check it off as completed right away. (e.g. if I'm doing the action as part of billable time/items for a client). No snags there.

Let's say I know what the action(s) is/are for the item, but it/they will take more than 2 minutes. To quote "Mastering Workflow" (5_phases.pdf) from the site:

<quote>, or defer (put on an action reminder list or in an action folder). If one action will not close the loop, then identify the commitment as a "project" and put it on a reminder list of projects.</quote>

I interpret this to mean that:
when I have a single action to "close the loop", I put it in my single, flat "reminder list" (or "action folder"). (He doesn't mention priorities, or goals, or categorizing it or setting any attributes when I put it there, or whether there's an order to this action reminder list.)

When I have > 1 action to "close the loop", I create a new project, put the multiple actions into this new project, and put the project itself into a reminder List Of Projects.

So the structure of a database for this part of the processing is:
(a) one flat action reminder list (no attributes other than a name)
(b) one flat List of Projects (no attributes other than a name and how many items they contain) and
(b.1) Within each Project are the multiple actionable items (with the name of the actionable item)

This description MUST have left something out, otherwise I would build up a very large list of projects!

How do I ever get to the point of adding new actionable actions to previously existing Projects? In this description, I don't ever do that. Something is wrong with the algorithm.

I've written and implemented computer algorithms (software) for over two decades. If I told a computer to do this, the database would quickly become unwieldy and unusable!

The questions (conditions to evaluate) and then subsequent instructions for an actionable item should be more like this, in my opinion:

Overview: How would doing this actionable item contribute to the desired outcome of my life, i.e. my values and goals?

What is the relationship between this actionable item and the already existing actionable items and the rest my GTD database?

More specific questions to ask myself (with the help of a tool):
How is this new actionable item similar or different from the existing actionable items?

How would this actionable item work together in conjunction with existing actionable items towards my manifesting my values and goals and achieving my desired outcomes?

Is the new actionable item a prerequisite to any of the existing ones?

Are any of the existing ones a prerequisite to this one?

Is this a repeating activity (habit, ritual), if so, how often, what time of day, week, month, year? When can it be safely skipped, when can it not be skipped?

Depending on the answers to these questions, I would then add the actionable item to my database structure, giving it the appropriate attributes, and putting inside one or more appropriate "containers", and/or possibly on the calendar. I would also capture the 'repeatability' aspects of the action, and capture the 'prerequisite' aspects of the action in relation to other actions.

I'm not sure yet if I would need a hierarchy that goes down to arbitrary numbers of levels.

Here's one reason why I think I might need it:
When breaking down a problem to write software, it's a very good idea to break the project down into smaller chunks, then break those chunks into smaller chunks, then break them down further, until finally the chunks of process are only a few lines of code (less than ~24 lines of code)

So if I were building an Enterprise Suite package of products, I would start from the highest level of a big set of integrating services, then go to each service, then to each the major modules of each service, then go to the widgets, screens, pages, other User Interface objects, or API if a programmable interface was also needed for each module, then to the individual elements making up the widgets or screens or pages or "contracts" within the API.

After many many years of designing and building software this way, it feels very strange to me that there are only two levels of hierarchy within the GTD (and ToodleDo's) system. And it feels very strange to use a bottom-up model.

The very early GTD stage of "process" is very detail oriented, which is good. But it missing the high level questions of-
"WHY am I doing this?
"WHAT are the "boxes" I'm thinking in?"
"Who defined those boxes, and are they the best ones for me, for now and for manifesting my future as I intend for it to unfold?"

If I don't ask these questions, I can't think outside the box. Maybe stopping myself from thinking outside the box is the intention of GTD, but it's not a very happy way to live, at least not for me.

In ToodleDo, I create "boxes" when I create "projects", "contexts", "goals", "tags", "location".

When I set and then update statuses, priorities, stars, due dates and times, start dates and times, repeating cycles, length, and timer then I am following a process of how actionable items and the boxes themselves "move" or "change" within the system. I would need to pick a flow which was consistent within itself, and made sense to me.

In addition to today's 2012 new actionable items coming at me constantly, I have a very large back-log to cope with. Here's some of what I'm going to tackle.

I have papers going back to the 1980's, and I get anxious thinking about it because I fear it will take me months (years?) to go through them and process them.

Many are items I wish to keep for "reference" in case during a future project I need the information. I don't know if I'll actually need them, but if I throw them out, I won't be able to use them as reference. So I will create reference folders for them. A filing cabinet just for reference papers. Like maps, instruction manuals for small appliances/electronics, etc.

Many other items are actually resources - stamps, blank paper pads, etc. so I can store them in a drawer or closet for supplies.

Many other items are memorabilia - like poetry I've received, photos, greeting cards, sweet notes from people. I don't necessarily want to keep them displayed anywhere, but I would like to keep them to jog my memory - people, times, events. I would like these items to not be buried in the reference files, or buried in the GTD system.

I also have a lot of journals from over the years. There are no current action items for them, but I wonder if I would gain anything by reading some of them, and I wonder if I would gain anything by self-publishing some of them as e-books, since it's much easier to do that these days. Are these memorabilia or are they reference? If they are reference, they'd need to go on book shelves because they're not shaped properly to be filed into folder into file drawers of a filing cabinet. In fact, that's probably how I'll have to store them whether I think of them as reference or as memorabilia.

I also have some 'creative' stuff - artwork, I guess I'd call it. I don't wish to keep it out on display, but I like having it because I look at this stuff from time to time. I guess this is more like 'memorabilia'.

I also have some items which indicate past accomplishments - some of these are paper items, like achievement certificates or a diploma, but some are three dimensional objects. They don't belong in 'references', they're more like memorabilia.

I need to put memorabilia items away someplace so that they don't interfere with my everyday 'getting things done'.
Folke X

Posted: Jan 08, 2012
Score: 1 Reference
Hi Linda,

I don't think I can answer all those questions satisfactorily, but perhaps I can give you some food for further thought:

Relationship with life goals, big picture etc:
I think most of these software apps are geared towards dealing with the nitty-gritty tasks, projects at the most. Some apps do have some lame "goals" feature, but seldom anything elaborate enough to be really useful. The connection between projects and the bigger picture is something you'd better be prepared to have in your head or in some other system, and/or implement in your software app to the extent possible using tags and other features.

Well, sometimes the choice of words may not be what ours would have been. Yes, tasks may all be actionable at some stage under some contitions, but what is being meant here is "Is there anything else stopping me from getting started and getting this done right away except for the fact that I have other "actionable" items competing for my time?".

Item - Next action
I get the impression, when you say you have an item in your inbox and wonder what the Next action is, that the item in question is something big and unclear. Then what you can always do (mentally or explicitly) is precede the task's title with something like "Take 15 minutes to tentatively analyze this item: ". That will be your Next action. It may result in whatever you decide during those 15 minutes - a whole project taking shape or maybe you simply discard the whole thing, or maybe you decide on a few steps of further inquiry or analysis.

Projects are a bit of a weak spot in GTD (and in many task managemnt apps) as there tends to be a myriad of projects with little or no distinction between large "real" projects and small "multi-step tasks". In practice what you do is make the best use of the app's features (using tags, sub-tasks, projects or whatever the app has) to get the hierarchy or other kind of overview that you want. Hopefully one day more apps will have better support for multi-level projects and dependencies.

Maybe GTD is simply not for you? Or maybe you have just come to the wrong place (app) here? Toodledo is a super-powerful general toolbox, but if you want GTD you have to create the whole setup yourself, knowing what you are doing. There are plenty of dedicated and more inutitive GTD apps out there, but most of these are incomplete or in closed beta testing or have some other limitation, but you could always keep an eye open ...

Personally I like GTD becuse it has a situation driven "Queue-and-Review" type philosopy that I like, as opposed to the more static Make-Schedule-/-Allocate-Time-Slots type philosophy that is also very common in task management. The choice may ultimately depend on how plannable you think your life is. Is it like an emergency room, where new important cases come up all the time from out of the blue, or is it more like a plastic surgery clinic, where you can schedule appointments months in advance.

This message was edited Jan 09, 2012.

Posted: Jan 08, 2012
Score: 0 Reference

That is possibly the longest post I have ever seen in the forums here! :)

There are so many questions that I don't know where to start but I got the impression that you might not have read Dave Allen's book yet and are going from information you've gathered from various sources?

If that's correct, I strongly recommend that you read the book before you try to implement GTD. It will cover most of what you are asking about in terms of goals, projects, actions, whole of life perspective, etc. It really is the best place to start.

Secondly (in case it is not already clear) Toodledo is not a GTD system. It's a task manager that is not aligned to any particular methodology but is flexible enough that it can be moulded to suit different ways of working. Some of us do use Toodledo as our GTD system but know that it has weaknesses (e.g. project handling is a biggie). But there are many good threads in these forums explaining different ways of making GTD work in Toodledo and the pros/cons of each method.

Firstly though, if you haven't done so already, read Getting Things Done.
Linda M

Posted: Jan 08, 2012
Score: 0 Reference
I've requested a copy via the library. I'm on the waiting list.

Posted: Jan 08, 2012
Score: 0 Reference
Posted by Linda M:
I've requested a copy via the library. I'm on the waiting list.

Great! I think you will find it very helpful. I think it is still available for e-readers such as the Kindle for a price lower than the paperback if you don't want to wait. Check out Amazon.

Posted: Jan 09, 2012
Score: 0 Reference

Your post, the part I read, mirrors my concerns with GTD. Personally, I find it rather souless, though I acknowledge that you can put soul it just about anything if you want to. But it seems to me designed for busy-ness addicts that have more things on their task list than they can ever hope to accomplish (have seen some of them proudly post that they have "thousands" of tasks on their lists.) For sure, many use GTD far more wisely and post here frequently.

A different approach, which starts with values and goes from there, called "Zen to Done" (you don't have to be a Buddhist) is at:

Under this kind of approach, you could put a lot of your uncategorized tasks, like "scan for viruses" in one, admittedly large, category called "Simplify", if in fact, that is a goal of yours. If not, something similar like "Peace of Mind" might work.

The great thing about TD is that it can accommodate both.

Finally, I'd suggest that you may have a tendency that I have, in wanting to plan it all out from the start. With a high-end task management system (if you're not looking for high-end, you're in the wrong place), I believe it's better to feel your way around. Start with a few basic fields that you know you want, then add as you find the need, keeping in mind that goal of "Peace of Mind". Allen calls this aspect "a trusted system". Same thing, except "Peace of Mind" not only applies to how you implement your task management system, but all your tasks and projects, even your whole life. I know I couldn't put together everything I currently have in my system in advance because there are so many factors to consider, as evidenced by the length and complexity of your original post, and you don't yet know all that TD can, and can't, do.

Feel free to right this all off as the lunatic ramblings of an old codger who's been playing with task management schemes from long before there were electronic tools, and has probably gone around the bend years earlier. :)
Linda M

Posted: Jan 09, 2012
Score: 0 Reference
Only have an e-reader on my smartphone, and I think this book is not suited to the small screen size. (no kindle, nook, or ipad yet)

I removed Adobe's bloated Reader from my computer. The alternative pdf reader I use doesn't bother with DRM, as far as I know.

I've thought of something else - often, a goal can uphold more than one value. So if "Values" are at the top of my structure, then different Values should be able to have the same goal within in.

And also, I don't value all Values equally, but I don't think there's a simple formula of "always value health above money" or such.

I want to base my actions on what matters most.

At the beginning of each day:
My intention is: I will do what matters

but at the end of each day:
What I know is: What mattered is what I did.

This message was edited Jan 09, 2012.

Posted: Jan 09, 2012
Score: 2 Reference
Posted by Linda M:
I want to base my actions on what matters most.
Yes, but what do I do with an email message in my Inbox? ;)

From Pay Attention to What Has Your Attention:
Very few people, when we ask them to capture what’s on their mind, start off with, "Fulfill my destiny on the planet." Most begin with something like "Fix printer" or "Get babysitter for the weekend." If your destiny, or your strategic vision, or your ideal outcome for your mom’s elder-care situation is the first thing on your mind, fabulous. Grab it. If it’s not, and you really want to effectively identify and incorporate those higher-horizon commitments, you must start with what’s taking up the space in front of them. More often than not that’s 22 e-mails you've been avoiding, the sitter you need to arrange for your kids for tomorrow night, and buying cat food. If you don’t deal with those effectively, they will undermine your recognition of the bigger stuff or at least diminish your ability to focus on them clearly.
Back to the email message in my Inbox: Is it "actionable"? If not, then I will delete it, delegate it, defer it, or store it for reference.

If it is actionable, then what is the specific action that I need to take? Yes, it will depend on the specific outcome that I want, but the desired outcome can be achieved in a variety of ways. What specifically do I do, and do I do it now or do I store it somewhere so that I can retrieve it and do it later? How do I find it later, and how do I know that I will see it when I need to?

The GTD methodology, at its core, is about getting things done by making decisions simply, quickly, and effectively, by having a trusted system that leads to "Mind like Water". Learning to use the GTD methodology is neither simple nor quick, but the results can be very effective.

Salgud mentions "Zen to Done". The author of that blog, Leo Babauta, says this about The Only Way to Become Amazingly Great at Something:
It takes anywhere from 6-10 years to get great at something, depending on how often and how much you do it. Some estimate that it takes 10,000 hours to master something, but I think it varies from person to person and depends on the skill and other factors.
There’s no one who is great at his profession who hasn’t been doing it for at least 6 years — no designer, no programmer, no carpenter, no architect, no surgeon, no teacher, no musician, no artist … you get the point. I dare you to name one. Most have been doing it for over a decade, and are still looking to improve.

It takes desire, it takes drive, it takes lots and lots of doing.

So here’s the thing: don’t get discouraged if you’re just starting out. Have fun, like we all did in the beginning. If you have fun, you’ll learn to love it, and THAT’S when it clicks.

The GTD system involves skill, just like the skill of a designer, programmer, carpenter, architect, surgeon, teacher, musician, and artist. And, just as there are many professions and vocations, there are many systems of task management.

The Franklin-Covey system is "top-down" -- principles, values, goals, and then actions. The GTD system is "bottom-up" -- look at what you're currently doing ("Pay attention to what has your attention") and use it to determine what's important to you. Both systems are fairly complex.

Zen to Done is simpler, as is Mark Forster's SuperFocus.
There's also another method, Michael Linenberger's Master Your Now.

Take your choice. :)

This message was edited Jan 09, 2012.

Posted: Jan 09, 2012
Score: 0 Reference
Great post, Purveyor!
Folke X

Posted: Jan 10, 2012
Score: 0 Reference
Yes, thanks a huge lot for those tips, Purveyor!

ZTD I was aware of. Good reading. Goes well with GTD.

SuperFocus/AutoFocus I had missed entirely. I did read his DIT book, though - quite similar in spirit to GTD. SuperFocus has a quite different approach, though. Very interesting. Seems difficult to use in an app like this, but it gives rise to an interesting thought that never occured to me before: Maybe it makes sense to increase the priority for tasks that you have started on but have not yet finished. This is, in effect, one of the things he does with his right-hand column. I am going to have to think about that.

Master Your Now: Many, many thanks for this tip in particular!

I had previously just brushed Linenberger aside when I saw that he had a book about Outlook, which I do not use. But now that I checked more thoroughly I found that his concept has many similarities with GTD and at the same time has some very interesting flavors of its own. I am now seriously considering trying to find a hybrid of the two. His use of the Start date as a fine-tuning tool seems very practical. His definitions of Critical+Opportunity+Horizon matches Focus+Next+Someday closely enough, but with some value-added aspects about the time frames involved. And just like Allen he wisely and strongly advises against due dates, unless absolutely necessary, but recommends these in his SOC's (~goals), which may be just the carefully balanced opening that I have been wanting. I think it should be possible to merge all this and get the best of both worlds. Many thanks again.

(And there is even a predefined out-of-the-box setup of MYN for ToodleDo at, which Linenberger also explains in his free e-book/video - not that this is difficult to do manually, but still nice. What you have to do is add, keep, or modify your GTD implementation for contexts, areas of focus, waiting etc, which MYN does not cover at all, but this should not be too difficult. Also, his use of the Start date precludes calendar syncing, but that does not matter in my case - I don't particularly want calendar sync, anyway.)

This message was edited Jan 10, 2012.
Linda M

Posted: Jan 11, 2012
Score: 0 Reference
Thanks for the tips about other systems. Maybe they'll be helpful. On the other hand, I'm beginning to think that an electronic gadget (laptop or smartphone) just gets in the way and I should establish a non-electronic solution and discipline myself to use that.

Purveyor: What do I do with that email?
First of all, if I'm successful with disciplining myself to use time wisely, I'm not looking at it unless I've decided that fetching email matters right now. Turn off audible and visual notifications of new email coming in. I'll let people know this is not the way to reach me in an emergency. Perhaps configure cell phone with a special ringtone for the (some small number here) people in my life who's emergency really is an emergency and thus I would trust their judgement to interrupt me.

Okay, so I read an email. What's its value? Does it matter to me? If so, do something with it that matters. Take an action which matters on the same level that this email matters.

If it doesn't matter, delete it, or archive it if you think it might one day matter. Don't spend too much time on how you archive it. Just have a good search mechanism in your email database.

I use IMAP and treat mail as a reference database. It's not supposed to be a to-do list.


Posted: Jan 11, 2012
Score: 0 Reference
Posted by Linda M:
Okay, so I read an email. What's its value? Does it matter to me? If so, do something with it that matters. Take an action which matters on the same level that this email matters.

If it doesn't matter, delete it, or archive it if you think it might one day matter. Don't spend too much time on how you archive it. Just have a good search mechanism in your email database.
I used the example of an email message to clarify the meaning of "actionable". Anything that you delete or archive is not actionable. If something is actionable then, yes, "take an action which matters on the same level that this email matters", but the key point is determining what the "Next action" is.
Take a look at Why "What's the next action?" is the most important question.

Also, you say:
On the other hand, I'm beginning to think that an electronic gadget (laptop or smartphone) just gets in the way and I should establish a non-electronic solution and discipline myself to use that.
There are many people who think so. Take a look at The case for paper-based productivity.

This message was edited Jan 11, 2012.
Folke X

Posted: Jan 11, 2012
Score: 0 Reference
@Linda: Sorry for interrupting, but:

@Purveyor: Have you tried to implement MYN to some extent? (I have now loaned a few notes from MYN, and I am very happy with the result so far and am interested in comparing experiences - if you are.)

This message was edited Jan 11, 2012.

Posted: Jan 12, 2012
Score: 0 Reference
Hey! :)

I started using MYN about three months ago. A couple of months before, I eliminated all work tasks from Toodledo and I started using Outlook for my work projects and tasks, along with OneNote for the project details. I use Toodledo for my personal tasks, and Evernote for gathering personal reference material.

I have implemented three aspects of Linenberger's system:
1. I map Priority to one of the three urgency zones.
2. I use Start Dates instead of Due Dates.
3. I sort my task list by Priority and then Start Date.

I have configured Outlook and Toodledo according to Linenberger's recommendations, and I use TaskTask to access my work tasks on my iPhone and iPad and I use the Toodledo iOS apps to access my personal tasks.

Overall, I am happy with the results. I use the basic principles of GTD and I have a bit more structure in my task lists because of Start Dates and Priority. Still a bit complicated, though.
Folke X

Posted: Jan 12, 2012
Score: 0 Reference
OK :-)

Well, I am in a similar split situation - Toodledo and Nirvana. I have implemented these MYN thoughts:

SOC: I always wanted something important right at the very top of my list - as an 'overriding general focus'. Over the past ten years I have had various kinds of stuff there, but never been happy with the result, and a cannot remember exactly why, but I guess I did not like the seemingly arbitrary and contradictory way that some things ended up at this 'over the top position' and some others just at the 'normal top'.

But now I implemented a SOC that felt intuitively right - I just created a new task, gaved it an intuitive name (SOC: xxxx) and made a few tasks notes roughly defining the SOC. This task has no physical connection (no tags or anything at all) to the rest of my tasks or projects. It is entirely 'redundant', 'heuristic', 'intuitive', 'unscientific', call it what you will. But I like it. And I even put a target due date on it (against all normal GTD rules - there is no real deadline for this SOC; just a nice-to-have-it-all-done-by feeling).

I only have this one SOC now, so it is too early to see a pattern, but with this one, if I analyze it, I can see that what I seem to have done intuitively is I have apparently looked at four projects that are different but still a bit related, and I seem to have defined a 'current phase' in each of these four projects, such that the SOC is a kind of 'overall platform to reach' for that whole 'area' to which the four projects belong.

Next/Opportunity: I have also moved the more distant Next stuff into Someday/Horizon (the MYN 10-day rule). I have even gone a step further and have chosen to subdivide (sort) the Next list such that the upper part is 'likely within the next FEW days'.

I have not implemented the Start date. This for purely technical reasons. I like the idea. It just seemed (in my personal case, with Nirvana-Toodledo) to be too drastic an experiment if I want to change back again. But I implemented (in Nirvana) the 'spirit' of MYN it by manually dragging and grouping the Someday list such that the less likely to ever be done go at the bottom. I even have taken the MYN spirit of time frames to implement dividing lines in the Someday list representing 'perhaps within a month or so' and 'perhaps in six months or so'.

This message was edited Jan 12, 2012.

Posted: Jan 12, 2012
Score: 0 Reference
Which of Linenberger's books have you read?
Folke X

Posted: Jan 12, 2012
Score: 0 Reference
Just the free pdf e-book. What about you?

Posted: Jan 12, 2012
Score: 0 Reference
Master Your Workday Now!
Total Workday Control Using Microsoft Outlook
And today I downloaded "The One Minute To-Do List".
Folke X

Posted: Jan 12, 2012
Score: 0 Reference
I'd be interested to learn from you if there are any major additional thoughts or concepts in the big book.

Anyway, all in all, I think the MYN-Toodledo combination looks very, very strong. Well worth considering, even for GTDers. Essentially, from a GTD perspective, it transforms your main lists into one long list Today-Next-Someday that has more accurate control of the time frames. Consider going for that, Linda!

Posted: Jan 12, 2012
Score: 0 Reference
The e-book does a good job of explaining the key points of MYN. The larger book fleshes out the underlying rationale. The Outlook book is very good. My company uses Outlook and Exchange Server, which is a powerful combination, but I had stopped using it for tasks and I used Toodledo instead. Not a good idea when everyone in my company is using Outlook.

I'm now back to using Outlook for work tasks and, as I mentioned earlier, I am using Toodledo for my personal tasks.

FWIW, I think that several GTD concepts are completely compatible with MYN:
The five stages of mastering workflow -- Collection, Processing, Organizing, Reviewing, Doing.
Using a trusted system (paper-based or electronic) to free up "psychic RAM".
Recognizing that a desired outcome usually involves several actions.
Identifying the next physical action required to move towards the desired outcome, especially to get "unstuck".
Doing regular daily, weekly, monthly and annual reviews.
Emptying the email Inbox every day.
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