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Trying Vanilla

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  • Trying Vanilla

    After spending 99% of my time fiddling w/ my outlook and palm add ins, and 1% using "Getting Things Done," I pulled everything off of Outlook and my Palm and I'm doing a plain vanilla implementation.
    • I keep projects tied together by just adding an arbitrary number like "(P5)" to items (tasks, notes, etc.) so I can link them together.
      I use the standard categories for Tasks (@home, etc.). I have one called Projects where I list the projects I'm working on, with the body having the project summary (deliverables, risks, vision, etc.)
      I'm using notes to track all my projects, with either unordered lists or tabbed pseduo-outlines.

  • #2
    Please report back on how it's going. I am also currently trying to break my dabbling habit and focus on the process.

    best regards,

    Phil

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    • #3
      Re: Trying Vanilla

      Originally posted by furashgf
      After spending 99% of my time fiddling w/ my outlook and palm add ins, and 1% using "Getting Things Done," I pulled everything off of Outlook and my Palm and I'm doing a plain vanilla implementation.
      Hey, good luck to you. I know you've been investing a lot of time on tools. I'll be interested to see how this experiment works for you - especially in getting your weekly reviews to be less time consuming and traumatic.

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      • #4
        My experience with feature-laden apps. is that they reduce the effectiveness of my Weekly Review. If I spend a lot of time on the lists as I write them, I tend to believe that everything is properly organized and thought out and I short-change the Weekly Review. I also waste a lot of time on tidying the Lists when I should be spending that time Doing. I have found that just getting it all down simply / plain vanilla, as much on the fly as possible, is sufficient, as long as I commit to the Weekly Review to do the re-thinking and re-commitment.

        Andrew

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        • #5
          It is easy to be seduced

          I agree that it's easy to be seduced by gadgets and software and that this seduction and preoccupation with the system itself is potentially a huge productivity drain. Make an agreement with yourself to devote a small percentage of your time to investigating tools if, like me, you simply can't help yourself.

          Don't use weekly review (or processing) time to play with tools. Make it a separate project and keep it in context. And, when you've found a system that works, stick with it. The incremental gains you might enjoy from a new tool need to be balanced against the investment of time and money you make to incorporate it.

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          • #6
            On a lighter note, I've been using PocketThinker to organize my outlines w/in outlook. it works fine and doesn't really add any gadgety overload.

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            • #7
              So, it's working well?

              Originally posted by furashgf
              On a lighter note, I've been using PocketThinker to organize my outlines w/in outlook. it works fine and doesn't really add any gadgety overload.
              I know there have some stability concerns with PocketThinker. It's working well for you?

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              • #8
                It didn't work at first. We went back and forth and they sent me an upgrade on Friday that hasn't caused a problem yet (knock on wood).

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                • #9
                  I tried Pocket Thinker - first app I'd downloaded in a long time.

                  It didnt work. It didnt really do anything as far as I can tell. I wont be trying any more apps for another long spell. If I cant download it and open and figure it out within a couple of minutes its worthless to me. Software should be intuitive and simple enough for someone to figure out quickly in my opinion. I'm ok with learning the finer points over time.

                  Back to the basics....

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                  • #10
                    Try the Seven Day Rules

                    Originally posted by Anonymous
                    I tried Pocket Thinker - first app I'd downloaded in a long time.

                    It didnt work. It didnt really do anything as far as I can tell. I wont be trying any more apps for another long spell. If I cant download it and open and figure it out within a couple of minutes its worthless to me. Software should be intuitive and simple enough for someone to figure out quickly in my opinion. I'm ok with learning the finer points over time.

                    Back to the basics....
                    Check the post on my blog that discusses the Seven-Day Rules for software

                    http://blogs.officezealot.com/marc/archives/000479.html

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                    • #11
                      I had some trouble w/ Pocket Thinker @ first, but after a bug fix they sent me it's been working great. Until they develop a built-in organizer for Outlook, I'm going to keep using it.

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                      • #12
                        I've got to agree with you

                        I've been a LifeBalance owner / fanatic for a long while, but I haven't used it for a few months now. (I still look in on the forums to see if they're changing anything about by particular usability questions.) Likewise with DateBk5 - it's fantastic, but only if I HAVE to differentiate between that many _types_ of things. I don't do that anymore, so...

                        I currently put everything into the vanilla Palm apps. Reference material that doesn't require archived paper gets copied into a Memo / Note / Address, and the paper goes to Trash right then and there. Projects go in ToDo lists for Someday/Maybe and Outcomes. NAs go into ToDo lists with @ names - I have I think 7 right now.

                        The only exception there is that anything with a due date is automatically a Date Book entry, on the date itself. Lead times mean the item is an untimed repeating entry from {the day I can start working on it OR the day I add it} to the due date. That way I can assign a time block if it gets down to the wire with just a couple of taps.

                        Items that would go in my tickler file are also DateBook entries, so my NA lists are ONLY the discretionary things. (I have a few daily-repeat checklists to save myself the horror of trying to reschedule two dozen small reminders every day!)

                        In my "never know what kind of energy by body will supply me today" world, that gives me the simplest, leanest, don't think about anything unnecessary while doing kind of setup.

                        Whew! Lots more words to describe than to envision. I should also throw in the caveat that I don't hard landscape very much at all - 95% of my work items are handled with a software-issue-tracking tool at work, and my home time is usually VERY flexible in the short run, also due to my sleep disorder related energy deficits.

                        I have tweaked this arrangement, less and less over the last six months, and I think I'm getting to the 'only think about it once' point, finally.

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                        • #13
                          I ended up giving up on Vanilla. How did you end up managing "projects" (showing which tasks were hooked up to projects, etc.).

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                          • #14
                            That was me in the previous post (I forgot to log on). I still spend too much time w/ the system.
                            For those who use Vanilla palm, how do you link your ToDos to your projects. My projects all have fairly sizable names, so I can't really prefix my todos/memos with the names. I tried going without it, and I really do need some way to see all of the todo's on my projects.

                            I saw one suggestion that someone made to keep a list of ALL to do's in the parent project memo/to do, and just manually synch them up during the weekly review.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Anonymous
                              For those who use Vanilla palm, how do you link your ToDos to your projects. My projects all have fairly sizable names, so I can't really prefix my todos/memos with the names. I tried going without it, and I really do need some way to see all of the todo's on my projects.
                              I prepend a random, unique, three-letter code to the name of each project when I create it. For example, "dne - Donate unwanted books and CDs" is one project I have right now. "dne" is the code. Then I prepend the same code letters to any next actions for the project; "dne - Gather bags and boxes for transporting unwanted books and CDs" is the next action for that project.

                              One of the steps in my weekly review is to sort my to-do items alphabetically by name and review them that way. Due to the codes, the projects end up right next to their next actions, thus making it easy to verify that each project has at least one next action.

                              I try to avoid letter combinations in the codes that could show up in actual words. This allows me to, on the Palm, double-tap on the three-letter code string, tap the "Find" button, tap "Ok", and see immediately just the project name and next action(s) that I am interested in.

                              I am pleased with this system. It has been successful for me. I recommend you give it a try.

                              Mmm... vanilla....

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