ForumsGetting Things Done®GTD Beginners Advice wanted

GTD Beginners Advice wanted
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Posted: Sep 16, 2008
Score: 1 Reference
I am new to GTD and to Toodledo but have been looking around for a while for a system that I thought would work well. As I have recently purchased an iPhone but also have a windows computer I thought that a web based app would suit me best.

Having read through the forums on here there seems to be a wide variety of methods used by people to implement GTD strategies on Toodledo. I wanted to share my ideas with you and find out if anyone has any thoughts on this and how it would work for GTD (these are adapted from Toodledo suggestions):

Goals - Life, 3-5 years, 1-2 years
Folders - specific projects (INBOX, House Renovation, Business planning, Garden, Someday/Maybe, Family, Financial, Errands/Shopping)
Contexts - Project, computer, errands, Home, INBOX, Personal projects, phone calls, work
Tasks - current actions

- Is there a way any can recommend I should use Priority and Tags?
- Is it possible at all to link up the calender with Microsoft Outlook (I use Microsoft Outlook which is linked to my Yahoo account but use Outlook calender which is able to sync with my iPhone but not my Yahoo calender)?
- If I use folders as projects will I not end up with too many - I already have 8?
- Will Jott integrate well with both my iPhone and Toodledo?
- Will this method make it easy to do the Weekly Review process?

Many thanks in advance for your thoughts. As I progress I will let you know how it goes.

Posted: Sep 24, 2008
Score: 0 Reference
Unless you are very disciplined about keeping active projects to a minimum, folders as projects isn't an ideal solution as you can very quickly end up with too many, and they aren't very quick to add "on the fly". I use the tasks/subtasks feature to handle projects, but unfortunately this is a "pro" feature so if you don't want to pay for the subscription then folders are probably the best way to manage projects. However, the Pro subscription is only $14.95 / yr, so it doesn't really break the bank, and you get lots of other useful features, so I'd say it's worth it!

Other alternatives for projects could be using the short term goals as projects, or even just keeping a separate project list (maybe using the context field to mark items as projects) with a list of tasks in the notes field, and just creating the Next Actions as and when you need them (more like the "classic" GTD described in the book, I suppose). I'm sure you could even use the Tag function as a way of managing projects; perhaps combined with the idea of having a separate "projects" list, so the project and all related tasks have a unique tag, and when you want to view an individual project you'd just use Tag view. Actually, now I think about it, tags for projects could be VERY useful, as the fact that you can apply more than one tag to an item gets over the problem of tasks which contribute to more than one project, something that I've struggled with on many occasions!

I use the folders as "Areas of responsibility" (i.e. 20,000ft level), tasks & subtasks as projects & actions, and the goals as each level beyond 20,000ft. I use fairly broad contexts and then use the tag field to be more specific (e.g. "@computer", then "email" in the tag field, or "@agenda", tagged with the person's name) or to categorise the task in some other way (e.g. "routine", "easy", "housework", "reward" etc). I also have "inbox" & "project" contexts to distinguish between Next Actions and unprocessed items or projects (new tasks go to "inbox" by default).

I deviate from classic GTD by making use of prioritisation, as I don't entirely agree with DA's take on prioritisation; whilst I agree that priority can change depending on things like context, mood, energy levels & time available, there are still certain tasks that are more critical than others and need to have attention drawn to them (and not risk them getting stuck in the middle of a long list and overlooked), and if you have quite a lot of tasks it can be hard to know what to do when you haven't already determined the priority of tasks. I use 3 for the tasks I know I must do, through to -1 for "someday/maybe" (although there is now an option for "someday" in the status field so I'm not sure whether to move to using that instead of -1). I tend to use "0" priority for tasks that don't really matter but which are things I'd like to do; I try to keep a few of these on my active lists rather than someday/maybe as it's good to have a few "treats" saved up for when I've been a good girl! I think of priority as a measure of how important that task is to my projects & goals, and how urgent it is (sometimes I find that urgency can't be encompassed by due date alone, especially when you're trying to stick to GTD & not use due dates unless there really is a due date!). I find it more helpful to determine priority when I'm processing tasks during a review (when I'm already thinking about how everything fits into my goals & projects) rather than while I'm trying to choose what to do, when it's just distracting and overwhelming to be trying to decide what the best use of my time is!

I do agree with DA that pre-defined priority shouldn't be the only deciding factor; sometimes I deliberately pick an easy task (hence the use of an "easy" tag) when I'm not feeling up to anything difficult, or I use the scheduler (I think that's another Pro feature, I'm afraid) to pick a task that will fit in the time I have available. And of course I view by context whenever I'm constrained by context, although I often have a lot of freedom about which context to be in so this aspect of GTD is slightly less important to me than it is in "classic GTD", although I do tend to group my tasks by context for maximum efficiency.

There's quite a lot of flexibility in Toodledo, so experiment to find your own way of using it. Theres a lot of powerful features that can be put to ingenious use, like tags & saved searches, which are a great way to customise your setup to suit your way of working & thinking.

This message was edited Sep 24, 2008.

Posted: Sep 25, 2008
Score: 0 Reference
One more thing: I'm not sure if having your "Someday/Maybe" list as a folder is the best idea, since these tasks will still show up in your other lists and may therefore be kind of distracting! The idea of the Someday/Maybe list is that you only look at it during a review or perhaps when you been really productive and feel like you deserve the reward of starting on one of your "dream projects"! If these tasks are all mixed up with your other tasks it loses much of the power of the Someday/Maybe list.

There are a couple of ways that you can easily mark items as Someday/Maybe and keep them out of your lists til you need them: either mark them as "-1" priority or change the status to "Someday". I currently use the "-1" priority as I started using Toodledo before they introduced the status field, but I think the Someday status might be a better solution as it marks them clearly as Someday/Maybe and frees up the "-1" priority for other uses. To view your Someday/Maybe tasks you'd simply view by status and click on the "someday" tab (or priority then "-1" if you've chosen that route).

Posted: Jan 19, 2009
Score: 0 Reference
One nuance you might consider now that there is a Someday status to define the Someday/Maybe list.

Since being able to review your list of projects is important for your weekly review (where you walk the list and make sure your the Next Action for each proeject is transferred to your next actions list.) is to use the method of Task=Project, and Sub-task=Next Action, only mark all your Task/Projects with a -1 Priority.

This will ensure when you want to just review your Next Actions (and not see your projects themselves), your regular To-Do view will give you that. Then when you want to just see you list of projects, you can filter on the -1 priority.

This message was edited Jan 19, 2009.

Posted: Feb 19, 2009
Score: 0 Reference


First, let me just say that your post was very informative. I use Toodledo almost exactly the way you do. I would say about 95%

As I read your post, I almost felt that I wrote it. lol

I do use Tags to mark task that belong to projects, but the 5% that was different in what I do is how you use tags to further describe the Context for a particular task. I like this and will use it from now on.

I do use the Someday/Maybe status and not the -1 priority.

I also picked up a good tip from aprenaud and will start to mark my Task/Project with -1. This will prevent them from showing up by default.

This was a great post by both saskia.x and aprenaud tossed in a great tip to complement it.

Thanks for sharing.

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