ForumsGetting Things Done®Goals: How do you use them?

Goals: How do you use them?
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Posted: Jun 22, 2009
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Goals in Toodledo is something I have only looked at briefly and have not used.

I understand the importance of Goals and how they relate to the GTD workflow, but I wanted to ask:

1. How are you guys/gals using Goals with Toodledo?
2. How do you use the Chains for motivation?

Thanks in advance.

-The Godfather

Posted: Jun 22, 2009
Score: 0 Reference
I don't use them...yet.

That said I envision using them to drive personal projects. For example I want to become a healthier person. I'll define that goal and what it means and then have it drive a weight loss/fitness project. etc.
Vin Thomas

Posted: Jun 22, 2009
Score: 1 Reference
I used goals on one project. It was HIGHLY motivating. Basically you have to complete one task in that project each day to keep the "chain" going. You can see your progress in the goals view.

I just wasn't using it for anything other than for one project so I removed it to keep the UI simple.

This message was edited Jun 22, 2009.

Posted: Jun 22, 2009
Score: 3 Reference
I have started using goals in my GTD setup.

Tasks with no subtasks = Runway
Tasks with subtasks = 10,000 (Projects)
Folders = 20,000 (areas of responsibility)
Short-term goals = 30,000 (1 - 2 year goals)
Long-term goals = 40,000 (3 - 5 year goals)
Life-long goals = 50,000 (Lifelong goals).

I'm still building my toodledo setup but this does seem to be working for me. I usually look at the goals during my weekly review - I must admit it is good to see you are moving in the right direction when you see the number of completed tasks going up.


Posted: Jun 22, 2009
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Great feedback so far. Thank all of you for sharing. Let's see if anyone else will share what they are doing.

Posted: Jun 25, 2009
Score: 7 Reference
I use goals considerably in just about everything I do. Some are much codified, in writing with Smart, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic & Timely details specifed. Others are not that thought out and still need some noodleing to flesh out the particulars.

All this is within the confines of a fairly strict use of the GTD system. However, with goals and areas of focus, I tend to blur the lines a little. Covey is right in that we need to define what is urgent and what is important. Allen is also correct in that we must engage with our system on a regular basis. Goals help me keep what's important in front of me, on a daily basis without being intrusive.

Because I do a weekly review every 6-9 days, I'm engaged with my system. Therefore I refuse to use a priority ranking system or a computerized ranking algorithm (Lifebalance – been there, done that, no likey) to tell me what's important. Sometimes life (your boss, spouse, kids) throws a curve ball at you and you're just not going to get to that "1A" priority item on your list today. And I don't need nor want to struggle with prioritizing my lists which, by proxy, prioritizes my goals tied to those lists. That's what God gave me a brain and intuition for. Learn to trust your intuition or inner voice, and it will serve you well.

So for some specifics from someone with ADD.

As short term or 30k foot goals I have taken the major headings of my performance standards and critical elements and formulated them as goals. These are tied to medium or 40k foot goal of achieving the next higher paygrade. So when my boss assigns me various projects or work comes up, I can see if it really belongs in my lane or not. If not, I'm a team player. If so, I'm doing my job and can show it. Makes my review easier, helps me keep my resume up to date, and I feel as though I'm accomplishing something instead of just pulling leavers.

I have personal short term goals such as gaining a certification in the next few months that are also tied to longer term professional goals of the next higher paygrade.

And I have personal long term goals of becoming completely debt free (house, car, everything!) in 15 years that are tied to both personal and professional short term goals.

I do not assign a goal to every task, but more often than not I do assign a goal to most projects. My system is fairly simple: Personal folder for personal projects, Work folder for work projects, Someday/Maybe folder. Projects are projects and sub tasks are the various actions for that project, all with an assigned context (home, office, phone, laptop, errands, etc.). Nothing complicated.

A little more than I intended to write, but that's my goal system, your mileage may and probably will differ.


Posted: Jun 26, 2009
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WOW! Thanks for taking the time in sharing. I learned a lot from your comments and I always enjoy reading how others are getting things done.

Thanks Lance.

Posted: Jun 26, 2009
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@Lance, thanks. I've considered using goals in Toodledo to support my larger horizons of focus. But I haven't gotten around to it yet...still on my someday/maybe list. With this head start, I might give it a try soon.

Posted: Jul 02, 2009
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Adding thanks @lance, a fellow ADDer (I suspect we're all drawn to productivity software for obvious reasons). Very useful setup, and always interested in detailed explanations of how other people do stuff...

Posted: Jul 10, 2009
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Thanks everyone. And yes, productivity systems for me are like a shiny objects to Dori in Finding Nemo, "Oh look, shiney!" I'm always looking for ways to keep my system as simple as possible. My weakness the process of tweaking my system instead of working it, and getting things done.

Posted: Jul 17, 2009
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It's so nice to feel like I've found a home. I discovered GTD last Friday. I was Googling for something (productivity or goal related) when I stumbled across several blogs dedicated to the subject matter. So, last Saturday I bought the book. I found Vitalist shortly thereafter and started using it. Yesterday I found Toodledo. I <heart> Toodledo. And now, these forums...yay...I'm a geek but there are others like me. :-) Thanks for all the helpful comments. I'm still learning how to implement GTD but I'm on my way.

Posted: Jul 17, 2009
Score: 0 Reference

Welcome and were happy to have you join us. I'm somewhat new myself to these forums (been lurking in the shadows for several months). My foray into GTD was with Merlin Mann's first blog post at 43 Folders on the subject of GTD for us geeks. After that I was hooked!

This message was edited Jul 17, 2009.
Seb F.

Posted: Sep 08, 2009
Score: 4 Reference
I did use a "different" method from the David Allen's one !

I read a few months ago a very interesting article on :

So, in toodledo I did :
1 - lifetime goals : how i want to feel
2 - longtern goals : how will i "get" to this(these) feeling(s)
3 - short-term goals : kind of more concrete/short-term goals (might be used as projects also)

Here is a very simple example :
- How i want to feel : I want to feel sexy/desirable
- How will I succeed : I want to look healty (among others objectives !)
- How do I do that : I need to take 10 kilos

And the tasks might be :
- 30 min exercices every-day
- eat 250g of meat every day
- ...

I hope it might help

Posted: Sep 11, 2009
Score: 0 Reference
Very existential, I like it! Yes, this opens up a whole new way of looking at goals that I never thought of. One would almost say that this is a form of cognitive behavioral therapy. You have to change the way you think and behave (and these are so synergistic) in order to achieve a specific feeling of wellness.

If I want to feel financially secure in 10 years that I would take specific steps (short term goals) to get there. How one defines 'financially secure' is entirely up to the person. Its entirely different than a goal of 'I want $10M in 10 years.'

sfanget, great post!
Seb F.

Posted: Sep 16, 2009
Score: 0 Reference
Thanks a lot.
I am pleased if it helped someone :-D

Posted: Sep 16, 2009
Score: 0 Reference
I'm playing with another thought - could Goals be Projects, Folders be Sub-Projects and Tasks/Subtasks be the breakdown of work within them?

NOTE: I haven't moved to this model. I see some negatives potentially - especially for those who currently use goals in some way (I don't). Goals are not treated the same as Folders or anything else in terms of making it easy to create and manage them. If a Project to me is a large scale thing and I wouldn't create them often then it might work. The Folders created within the Goal/Project would be more volatile and there is support in TD for managing them better and more frequently than Goals. Goals are available in the grids and in searches (which I live in) which is the reason I started thinking about this.

I know TD is looking at other levels of project management/organization - I think if this actually worked then moving to another model would be as easy as moving to something similar to this would be.

A couple of general examples...

Goal: Software Project 1
- Folder: Architectural Analysis
- Task: Team Kickoff
- Subtask: Create meeting presentation
- Subtask: Create meeting agenda
- Subtask: Schedule meeting
- Subtask: Order snacks
- Task: Competitive research
- Task: Customer elicitation
- Task: Technology research
- Folder: High level design
- Folder: Detailed Design
- Folder: Construction

Goal: Backyard renovation
- Folder: Add new lanai
- Task: Get bids
- Subtask: Identify builders to elicit bids from
- Subtask: Create document to manage bid process
- Subtask: Contact builders
- Subtask: Add data to bid document
- Task: Choose builder
- Task: Get permits pulled
- Task: Do pre-site work to clear area for builder
- Task: etc...
- Folder: Change landscaping around pool
- Folder: Replace fencing in back yards
- Folder: Make modifications to sprinkler system in backyard

Just thinking out loud here...


Posted: Sep 16, 2009
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it's funny, I wouldn't have thought that ADD would translate into any large system that requires consistent entry.

I know when I'm manic (yay bipolar!) I find it bloody hard to sit still long enough to jot down tasks.

Posted: Sep 16, 2009
Score: 0 Reference

I use goals similar to the fashion you described. I am a research scientists and juggle about 2-5 VERY large projects (each taking about a year or so; perhaps longer). I then take a page out of Proximo's setup (see thread in this forum) in which he has an "actions" and a "projects" folder (you can name these anything you like, one is for single action tasks the other for projects with multiple steps). So for a given "goal" (or Large project), I have multiple step small projects in my projects folder and single tasks in the actions folder (I will leave it to the Proximo thread to show the merits of this). I make sure all tasks and subtasks are labeled with the appropriate goal. Then, if I want to see what a large project entails I just do a custom search for a given goal. I really like this system because I can use short term goals for papers, medium term goals for unifying concepts like "Complete Thesis", and long term goals for the life altering stuff.

Posted: Sep 18, 2009
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@jquark - thx for the insight. That's similar to what I was thinking. I've said this before on here, but I LIVE in saved searches and can't wait for the day when they are available in the iPhone application as I use them 100% of the time. Having a bunch of metadata around your tasks makes it easy to search for groups of them (duh). I'm a Software Architect and have the same issue - usually a few very long-term projects (version 2.0 of a product), shorter projects (Feature X in a product) and then one-off tasks (Review someone's code, go over a process document, etc...). Right now I use folders for the long-term projects and haven't been completely satisfied with them but have a couple of issues with tasks/subtask implementation (based *purely* on my requirements) that have kept me from going that route. I have a folder (simply named Tasks) that I use for all one-off tasks and I use a context to denote what it has to do with (work, home, phone, errand, computer). I thought Goals would be a way of keeping track of the long-term projects - they show up in the grid and can be archived. I'm more intrigued now that someone has stated that they use them this way and that they work for you. I believe that they are exposed through the API as well - important to me because I have written a couple of things against the ToodleDo API to aid me in using TD (mostly having to do with my Weekly Review every week).

For me, maybe I think differently than others - I don't know. All I want is to look at my tasks and ask the question, "For everything that has a due date and an appropriate context for what I'm doing, show me everything that needs to be done ordered by due date and priority." I don't care what projects they are in or if they are even in a project. I only care about what needs to get done today. For everything that's pending, I put them in a Pending folder and order them by priority. In my weekly review I look at all pending things and determine what can be made active (given a due date), what can be demoted in priority or deleted (was created X months ago and still isn't active) and what active tasks may need to go back to pending (for e.g. intended to sketch out some plans for a couple of new flower gardens by Sunday but plans came up suddenly for the next three weeks - I'll put that task back in pending and it'll become active eventually).

Sometimes when someone (i.e. The Boss) needs to know what's going on with a project, a quick search can easily reveal what tasks are currently ongoing for any large or small project. Other than that I never pay attention to them while I'm completing work. My review each week entails marking the last week's completed tasks with tags (indicating if they are important enough to include in a status report or if they should be brought up for my performance review) and then putting together some documentation automatically around them.

Enough babbling for now - thanks again for the insight.


Posted: Sep 18, 2009
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@benny - Thanks for the babbling! It's awesome to read how different people implement their systems. There's often a nugget that can be used to further streamline my own.
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