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Posted Jan 11, 2011 in: Christopher's GTD Setup and Implementation
@Salgud - I now understand why you are using folders, more or less a grouping of similar tasks and even what we could call "mini-projects". But I think that we use folders for pretty much the same thing; "Areas of Responsibility". Personally I think that this is the best way to do it. You have a folder as a part of your life, maybe 'Personal', and then have that folder contain all of you personal actions and projects sorted by context.
I like using this route so you can filter be folder and with that you see that whole aspect of your life and what actions and projects need completed and what context you are in.
As you say:
If you've got a working system, more power to you.
@Derek-User1 - Basically I follow David Allen's way of looking at next actions as a "reminder" of the next direct, physical thing that you can do to get a project moving along. I place my next action of a project onto the context that it must be completed in and in the "Area of Focus" that it falls in.
The Next Action is the crux of GTD in my opinion (as well as the weekly review) and is used to remind one of the next thing to do. Some people prefer to list out a plan of their project by listing several actions and then putting them under a task as subtasks, effectively creating a project / task heirarchy. In my personal experience this has always been a pain in Toodledo.
I plan my project in the notebook, evernote, the project's note field, whatever, then put the next one or two things on my next action lists to remind me of what to do next.
This message was edited Jan 11, 2011.
Posted Dec 30, 2010 in: Christopher's GTD Setup and Implementation
Thanks for the feedback so far everyone. The thing that I have picked up the most from this that TD is awesome because of its flexibility. It allows you to take any type of workflow and use it here. In fact, I was just reading how the "creator" of the Master Your Workday Now! system, Michael Linenberger, is now recommending that people use TD. That's why it is the best right now in my book; flexibility.
@greg - I totally understand the struggle with subtasks and projects. That's why I gave up with them. @Salgud has some good reasoning for them, I just can't wrap my head around them yet. And by the way, it has taken me a little over a year to settle on my implementation. My advice is to find something that makes sense in your head and implement it. The hardest part is sticking with it.
@AJS - Priorities make sense in some contexts I believe. If you have a massive amount of stuff on your list, maybe that are all calls for example, it's good to seperate and make some of them float to the top. My lists are pretty short (mostly because I Get Things Done!) so, I tend to find priorities still an extra piece that isn't needed in my setup.
@Salgud - I have tried shortening the names of my projects for use as folders. But here is the reason it doesn't work for me, and trust me it is kind of touchy feely! I like to use my words to direct me on what to do. For instance let's say I have a project where I need to create some documentation at work for a piece of software. Sounds easy.
In my implementation I would create a task called "Create documentation for dual mod implementation", which is well over the 32 character limit. The reason that I do this is to give myself a verbal cue of what needs done for this project (like I said, touchy feely). I need a reminder of what I am doing; creating a document. I have to use verbs to make sure things are clarified.
I know that it is "hippy-ish" but it really has changed the way I feel about my projects.
I could however, based on your implementation, create a folder called DualModDoc and put my actions inside of it. But here is where I am confused, do you put a task inside of the project folder that represents the project and then make subtasks of next actions underneath it? You say you use subtasks and partent tasks for projects, but if that is the case what are the folders for? I would definitely like to see a post of your setup and implementation, more ideas the better!
And by the way, my implementation has been going strong for the past three weeks. I now have my setup put together on my Android phone using the app Due Today and also on the native TD app on my iPad.
Posted Dec 22, 2010 in: Christopher's GTD Setup and Implementation
So, I have been struggling for the past few months to really settle down with a GTD tool. I have floated between them all and have decided to give a concerted effort to Toodledo as it is the most ubuiquitus of any todo list manager I have found. I will post my initial setup and any progress I make with it.
I am a pretty busy person and have several different areas of my life. I am a student, work for two different companies, have my own business pursuits, a husband, and a puppy owner. It feels like GTD was made for me; now it's all about the implementation and using what works. Mr. Allen always says that if you cannot trust your tools there is no point in even trying this.
That said, I'm going to point out some quick caveats that I found so far with Toodledo and GTD. Mind you this is my opinion.
1. Sub-tasks suck for projects
Seriously, sub-task handling in Toodledo is extremely annoying to use. I found myself trying to setup Proximo's way and became irritated with having to move actions around based on the crappy sub-tasking model. Mr. Allen says that linking projects to tasks isn't that important, as long as you have a plan to follow, all you really need is a reminder of the next action on your next action list. The only time I will use sub-tasks will be for a task in a project that has multiple steps. Even that seems a little annoying though, so I try not to use them at all.
2. Statuses do not make sense
I have tried so many different things to make statuses work, like, "well, "active" could be for a project, on "hold" could be stuff that isn't a next action, delegated could mean waiting, but wait... THERE IS WAITING!". They don't really make too much sense to me, and because of that I really have to put some thought into using them. I don't want to think that much using my system, so I got rid of them. Thank God.
3. Get rid of priorities
It's either important or it isn't. If you need to differentiate something, use stars. It's a binary way of looking at things. Fewer choices means less thinking, means faster input and use.
4. Folders and contexts are your friends
My entire system is based on the use of Folders and Contexts. I am setting them up sort of opposite from Proximo's way. Folders are used for "Areas of Focus" and contexts are used for tools or places. I would use folders for projects but you are limited to 32 characters for a folder name (WTF?!) and at that rate it's somewhat useless. Also you can't put a note on a folder (you can leave a note inside of a folder, but you can't attach it like a task). Plus folders cannot be given due dates. I'll use them for "Areas of Focus". We will get into that in the implementation section.
5. Custom searches are just 'OK'
I love the way that you can hack and shred the information in Toodledo in any way you deem fit. It's really awesome. I don't use it that much though and won't be included in my implementation. You can use it if you want, and there are definitely good reasons for it. It just is too much to add into the mix for what I am trying to accomplish.
Wow... All that out of the way, let's look at the setup, shall we!?
Here are the fields/functions that I use in Toodledo:
I don't use all of the features all of the time but things like tags, length, and start dates sometimes are valuable. If you really wanted to make this setup and implementation nice and lean then you could only include the following:
Here is how you use each function:
Like I said above this is for "Areas of Responsibility". My areas include the places that I work, anything that has to do with house and home stuff (this also includes family things), my personal business (writing, development), school, and volunteering responsibilities.
I use these a little differently than just normal contexts. I also use them for project, waiting for, and on hold differentiation. Here are my contexts:
@home - anything I can do at home
@phone - anything I need a phone for
@car - anything that can be done in the car, I commute a lot
@computer - anything done on a computer
@online - anything online
@campus - anything that must be done at campus
@agenda - things that I need to go over with people (I usually tag the task with their name)
@waiting - things I'm waiting for
hold - any action or project on hold
project - projects
someday - someday/maybe items
Pretty self explanatory but sometimes I set this to the date that I put something in the @waiting for context. Helps me know when to start some fires to get results from others.
Use this for repeating tasks. Toodledo has decent handling of repeat tasks. You can then change the view options to only see items that are due soon.
Sometimes it's good to give an estimate to a task's length, especially if you are looking for something quick to do.
I use tags for different things. What I use them for most is to put contact names in (good for sorting when I need to speak to someone off an @agenda list), identify what tasks belong to what class in school, or sometimes a customer's name for development projects. You can get pretty creative with tags; my advice with tags is that the less you have the better.
Good for pointing things out that are really important.
That's about it for setup, now let's take a look out how I implement it.
Let me give you a real world example of how my setup works. I will take my work at Erie for an instance.
First I go to the folders tab and click on my Erie folder. I usually have my 'all tasks' list sorted by context. This gives me a nice little bar at the top of each context with its name as a heading. I could work this way if I really wanted to; just accomplishing tasks from the context that I wanted to work in, but I usually hit the filter bar at the top of the page and choose what context I am in while I am at Erie. So, what this is essentially doing is giving me all tasks with the folder of "Erie" and the context of, say, "@computer".
When creating new tasks the least I do is give them a context and a folder.
This may make some people uncomfortable but I couple Toodledo and Evernote for project management as they are both universal, ubiquitous tools. I first outline and brainstorm my project in Evernote, give it a task in Toodledo with the context of "project" and the folder of whatever Area of Focus it is in, assign due dates if applicable, and then give it a next action in one of my next action lists. I don't make any effort to "link" next actions to projects as it is difficult and annoying to do with sub-tasks in Toodledo.
I use the next action as a reminder of what to do next on the project and usually what happens is that I start to work naturally on the project accomplishing many tasks that need to be done that are not even in Toodledo; they just happen sporadically. This is the real beauty of GTD that I have found; it truly is all about the next action.
If you can't stand the idea of combining Evernote and Toodledo, then you can of course just include your project plans as a notebook in Toodledo or merely attach a note to the project task and put all of you information there.
Conclusion for now
This is the basis of my GTD with Toodledo implementation. The best part about being a GTD geek that uses Toodledo is that you have a ton of options and room for growth. For instance, I experimented with sub-tasks for a long time and just decided they weren't worth the effort; having a good weekly or even mini daily review of projects and tasks is enough to "link" my projects to actions.
So, for now this is it. I may tweak things here and there and I am definitely open for questions, criticisms, and suggestions. If I get a decent amount of response I will post a video of my setup and take on any questions.
Now, get back to work!
This message was edited Dec 22, 2010.
Posted Apr 07, 2010 in: Toodledo for iPad / iPhone
I just downloaded the iPad app tonight. Generally I think that I like it, although that I agree having the tasks in the small drop down box cuts off the title of each task. It would be nice if there was a little more room given to the task lists.
Also, in my home list I have no Context option that would then display my contexts. I have the folders, due dates, priorities, due dates options but no contexts. I checked settings and I see nothing that looks like I can enable this. Am I missing something?
Also, Settings --> About when you click the 'Contact Us' button at the top right an email dialog comes down. When you are in portrait mode everything is good except that Toodledo's support email address is not filled in. When you are in landscape the email address is also not there and when you start typing the email scrolls up to where you can not see what you are typing. You can type and then scroll up and the text is there.
Any help with the contexts is much appreciated.