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  • GTD system for Mac/PC user

    Let me start by saying that I am new to GTD. I have already listened to an audiobook version of GTD, and now I am in the process of reading the actual book.

    I can see the great potential in GTD, and how it can improve my life. However, I am not sure what might be the best way for me to implement it. I am seeking your help and guidance.

    This is my current working enviorment:

    One PC in the Office.
    One PC at Home.
    One MAC laptop.

    I also have Nokie E61 (Symbian S60 3rd edition) that I carry with me.

    I have two main email accounts:
    GMAIL account for personal usage
    Exchange account for work related emails.

    Currently I have the E61 synced to an exchange server and I have my gmail emails forwarded to the exchange server. This way I can read all my emails while I am on the go and I can access it via web interface from whereever I am at.I can also sync my contacts/calendar with the exchange server.

    My main GTD "inboxes"
    1. my email inbox - probably accounts for 80% of traffic
    2. regular work/personal mail
    3. meetings notes
    4. voicemail
    5. regular office memos - very few.

    For the lo-tech inbox, I plan to use 1 inbox tray at work and 1 at home. I will file the items that needs filling.

    Most of my actions, however, begin with email requests. Furthermore, most of these actions will require me at some point to reply to the email that generated the actions. It seems to me that because I am so heavly focused on emails that I should go with an integrated Email GTD solutions. The problem, however, is that if I go with Outlook/Thunderbird implementation, the system will be local on the computer running the client and I will not be able to access it from my other computers. If instead I go with a GMAIL solution, then I need to send my work emails and actions to my gmail email (something that I don't want to do).

    The other alternative is to go with a software that can be executed on both mac/pc (something like thinkingrock) and share the xml datafile between the computers. The problem, however, is that I lose the connection to my emails....How will I process my emails related items? Should I just file incoming emails in folders and add a new action in thinkingrock that reference the email?

    I must say that I am not a lo-tech person. I can't see myself carrying a regular notepad/index cards all the time...

    Any advice?

  • #2
    What can you do with the Exchange server from outside the office? Is it strictly web mail, or can you sync the messages to a local computer?

    Certainly both Outlook and Thunderbird can be configured to get their mail from a variety of sources, so the answer really depends on how your office IT guys have set up the server. If your mac mail client can clone what's on the Exchange server, half your problem is solved.

    The other half, reading home-based materials from the office, might be solvable by use of a .Mac account. I haven't used it much, but .Mac lets you create a virtual disk that you can then access from anywhere, with automatic synchronization from your local Mac.

    Katherine

    Comment


    • #3
      If Can't Sync Between the Two computers

      Could you look at potentially a portable version of Thunderbird? Something you could carry with you on a USB drive or the like?

      Comment


      • #4
        Thanks for the quick replies....

        I have no problem connecting to my exchange server via POP3 or IMAP.
        Maybe I am not getting it right, but this is the problem that I traying to solve:

        Assuming that I setup my "First Computer" to use outlook2007 (or thunderbird) to connect to the exchange server via IMAP and to my GMAIL via pop3. As far as I understand it, every action that I will do on the incoming emails (catagoriezing) will only be done on the client side.

        If I would then connect to the exchange server/gmail using the mac laptop or the other PC computer, the changes that I have made using the first PC will not be reflected.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by astoria View Post
          Thanks for the quick replies....

          I have no problem connecting to my exchange server via POP3 or IMAP.
          Maybe I am not getting it right, but this is the problem that I traying to solve:

          Assuming that I setup my "First Computer" to use outlook2007 (or thunderbird) to connect to the exchange server via IMAP and to my GMAIL via pop3. As far as I understand it, every action that I will do on the incoming emails (catagoriezing) will only be done on the client side.

          If I would then connect to the exchange server/gmail using the mac laptop or the other PC computer, the changes that I have made using the first PC will not be reflected.
          That's not correct. If you are using an IMAP server, the server hosts the "definitive" copy, which can be seen by both clients. I use this approach to sync between my Mac desktop (using Mail.app) and my Windows laptop (using Thunderbird, but it also works with Outlook).

          The tricky bit is that you need to make sure your category subfolders ALSO reside on the IMAP server, NOT in the local mail file. That may require poking around in your mail options, as Outlook in particular likes to keep things locally, but it can be done. You'll also need to play with the synchronization options to make sure that everything gets copied back and forth. Again, Outlook in particular can be fairly confusing in this regard.

          The other tricky bit is that only mail will be synced this way. IMAP doesn't know how to handle To Do items, calendar items, or address book items.

          Katherine

          Comment


          • #6
            IMAP is the way to go

            Originally posted by astoria View Post
            Thanks for the quick replies....

            I have no problem connecting to my exchange server via POP3 or IMAP.
            Maybe I am not getting it right, but this is the problem that I traying to solve:

            Assuming that I setup my "First Computer" to use outlook2007 (or thunderbird) to connect to the exchange server via IMAP and to my GMAIL via pop3. As far as I understand it, every action that I will do on the incoming emails (catagoriezing) will only be done on the client side.

            If I would then connect to the exchange server/gmail using the mac laptop or the other PC computer, the changes that I have made using the first PC will not be reflected.
            With IMAP, the folder structure is the same across all machines, so you can have the same @Waiting, Project_A, or whatever you like. I use IMAP with three computers plus webmail clients that I can access from any browser. Everything is the same, everywhere. With POP, you are correct that whatever you do with downloaded email is local to that machine. IMAP solves the problem. I gradually moved from all PCs to all Macs over about 18 months without any problem with email. One caution: unless your actionable email count per day is very high, the real challenges of implementing GTD tend to lie elsewhere.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by kewms View Post
              The other tricky bit is that only mail will be synced this way. IMAP doesn't know how to handle To Do items, calendar items, or address book items.

              Katherine
              Ok, how do you overcome this shortfall?

              If I receive an email, for example: "Book airfare to Boston"

              I know that I should:
              1. Contact the other person that is flying with me to confirm the dates/time
              2. Order the tickets
              3. Send confirmation

              And assuming that I can do all actions @computer

              Also, this action is part of project "Alpha"

              How would you go about arranging it with IMAP implementation?
              Also, what would you do with a task that did not start via email? For example I get a phone call regarding project "Alpa" that requires me to prepare a presentation.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by astoria View Post
                Ok, how do you overcome this shortfall?

                If I receive an email, for example: "Book airfare to Boston"

                I know that I should:
                1. Contact the other person that is flying with me to confirm the dates/time
                2. Order the tickets
                3. Send confirmation

                And assuming that I can do all actions @computer
                I use a primarily paper system, in part because it essentially eliminates crossplatform synchronization issues. For large piles of data that are relatively static but need to be portable, like my address book, I keep the definitive copy on my desktop and dump a copy to my iPod as needed. (It's a nano, and slightly smaller than a business card case.) I'm sure people with more direct electronic experience will chime in.

                Some people use completely email-based solutions. They handle tasks that don't originate in email by sending email to themselves. Some people use web-based or PDA-based to do lists in order to be platform independent. Some people stick with open-format software, like plain old text files, and keep the data on a flash key to move it between computers.

                Katherine

                Comment


                • #9
                  Hello and welcome to the world of the GTD System best suited to you!

                  I am about to be in your situation. I have the 2 PCs and I am buying a MacBook Pro when Leopard is released.

                  A couple of things that I have noticed in these threads:

                  1. IMAP vs POP3: When you connect to an IMAP client (usually through the web, but can be done in Outlook, T-Bird, etc), you connect to the ACTUAL server and manipulate data ON THE SERVER. Every web-based email service is essentially an IMAP client. This is why it is the choice for many...You see ALL of your emails ALL THE TIME. With POP3 services, by default, you DOWNLOAD your email from the server to your local machine. This is the choice of most broadband internet providers. That way, when you open your email, you d/l the email to the machine and it is OFF OF THE SERVER. You can not look at the email anywhere but the machine that downloaded it. There is a setting that allows you to 'Keep Mail on the Server', but if you forget to check that and d/l your mail, then you are hosed.

                  2. GMail Usage: I love GMail. My email is not a main inbox for me so I don't have it setup in GTD Style. You may want to look at GTDGmail (requires Firefox to use). It allows you setup GMail in a more traditional GTD style.

                  3. Exchange usage: There is a way to connect to your Exchange account as an Exchange account at your house. You connect through RPC over HTTP. You may need to consult your IT guys to see if they have set the Exchange server to do this. I am about to deploy an Exchange server at my work and I am planning on setting it up like this and connecting to it from home. That will give you Exchange as it is sitting at your office desk. I did it at my old company and it is very nice.

                  I hope that this helps.
                  Michael

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by AdamMiller81 View Post
                    Could you look at potentially a portable version of Thunderbird? Something you could carry with you on a USB drive or the like?

                    This is the way I am currently handling this problem. I keep my Outlook.pst file on a USB thumb drive. Outlook accesses it directly on the thumb drive. Its simple and it works just fine.

                    I only have one word of warning. Keep an extra pst file lying around on your hard drive in case you forget the thumb drive at home or something. Outlook won't start without one.

                    Tom S.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Ok seems like IMAP or RPC could offer one way or solution

                      My questions then is: If I use Thunderbird (with IMAP) or Outlook 2007 (With IMAP) and I apply labels or categories, will these be saved on the server or will it only apply it locally?

                      Example: I apply a @home label to an email using thunderbird on computer1. When I connect to my the smame inbox, but using computer2 (also has thunderbird installed) will I see the label or will I need to apply it again?

                      Portable thunderbird will solve the problem, but then I will be forced to carry a usb with me.

                      Ok, I seem to lend on this post:
                      http://ask.metafilter.com/mefi/26135

                      Seems like it depands on the IMAP server....

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by astoria View Post
                        Let me start by saying that I am new to GTD. I have already listened to an audiobook version of GTD, and now I am in the process of reading the actual book.
                        I am also new. Before Christmas I hadn't even HEARD of any of this and now I'm a full-fledged convert.

                        Originally posted by astoria View Post
                        I can see the great potential in GTD, and how it can improve my life. However, I am not sure what might be the best way for me to implement it. I am seeking your help and guidance.

                        This is my current working enviorment:

                        One PC in the Office.
                        One PC at Home.
                        One MAC laptop.
                        We have very similar setups. I have two business laptops, both Windows XP with Outlook 2003. My personal laptop is an iBook running Mac OS X with the standard Apple utilities for mail, contacts, etc.

                        Originally posted by astoria View Post
                        I also have Nokie E61 (Symbian S60 3rd edition) that I carry with me.
                        I just have my standard company issued cheapie phone that syncs to nothing.

                        Originally posted by astoria View Post
                        I have two main email accounts:
                        GMAIL account for personal usage
                        Exchange account for work related emails.
                        Same here.

                        Originally posted by astoria View Post
                        Currently I have the E61 synced to an exchange server and I have my gmail emails forwarded to the exchange server. This way I can read all my emails while I am on the go and I can access it via web interface from whereever I am at.I can also sync my contacts/calendar with the exchange server.
                        You do know you can access your GMail from your phone, right? I like to keep my personal email personal and my work email at work, but that's me.

                        Originally posted by astoria View Post
                        My main GTD "inboxes"
                        1. my email inbox - probably accounts for 80% of traffic
                        2. regular work/personal mail
                        3. meetings notes
                        4. voicemail
                        5. regular office memos - very few.

                        For the lo-tech inbox, I plan to use 1 inbox tray at work and 1 at home. I will file the items that needs filling.
                        That's what I have done. Unfortunately unless I buy a filing cabinet and haul it in here myself, I'm stuck with our standard office furniture that is only hanging file folder friendly. I hated those things even before reading the book. I'm probably going to just stuck my plain file folders inside the hanging ones.

                        Originally posted by astoria View Post
                        Most of my actions, however, begin with email requests. Furthermore, most of these actions will require me at some point to reply to the email that generated the actions. It seems to me that because I am so heavly focused on emails that I should go with an integrated Email GTD solutions. The problem, however, is that if I go with Outlook/Thunderbird implementation, the system will be local on the computer running the client and I will not be able to access it from my other computers. If instead I go with a GMAIL solution, then I need to send my work emails and actions to my gmail email (something that I don't want to do).
                        I don't think you mentioned your line of work or how often you're out of the office. Are you away from your email that much that this will be a problem? Can you get a laptop computer? I read some of the replies and several people have asked if your IT department offers Outlook Web Access. I keep all of my contacts, calendar, and "working GTD" folders on the server rather than on my laptop so I can access it from anywhere. I keep my .PST files local and use them like I use my paper reference files. It's there if I need it, but I don't review them on a day-to-day basis. I rely on Google Desktop for retrieval.

                        Originally posted by astoria View Post
                        The other alternative is to go with a software that can be executed on both mac/pc (something like thinkingrock) and share the xml datafile between the computers. The problem, however, is that I lose the connection to my emails....How will I process my emails related items? Should I just file incoming emails in folders and add a new action in thinkingrock that reference the email?
                        You mean manually syncing them? Don't do it. I've tried that route, it's a fiasco.

                        Originally posted by astoria View Post
                        I must say that I am not a lo-tech person. I can't see myself carrying a regular notepad/index cards all the time...

                        Any advice?
                        Just what I listed above.

                        Are you familiar with Plaxo http://www.plaxo.com ? You can use it to keep Outlook, Thunderbird, Yahoo Mail, and Apple synchronized. But only your PIM information, not your actual email. It's been a real lifesaver for me.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Thank you for the great feedbacks...This has been very helpful...

                          Based on your input and research that I did online, I think that this is how I will implement my GTD system.

                          1. 3 trays at home/office to process paper input.
                          2. folder stacks in home/office to store processed items.
                          3. make folders on my exchange server, and label emails with keywords using thunderbird. Since the keywords are stored on the server side, I would be able to access the orginized data from thunderbird clients (works on OS X/Windows), or outlook webclient (works from everywhere).

                          4. I will use my mobile phone (E61) and a Moleskin notepad to take notes during the day while I am away from my computer. These will get processed once I get connected to the net.

                          5. Will sync my next action list to my mobile phone (not yet sure if I should sync everything, or just certain contexts).

                          Thanks again everyone, and please keep posting more advises/tips.

                          Comment

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