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  • #76
    Just to add

    Addressing the central topic, one of the reasons GTD can seem so complicated is that David Allen has been very specific on the minutiae of the productivity process. This is where other "simpler" systems tend to obfuscate, but that doesn't mean the problems go away. You still need to know how to file reference material. It's still nice to have some advice how to define projects and action items even if you don't need it.

    While there are other methods out there that have their own strengths, I really appreciate that GTD pretty much covers every level from small actions to life plans and there is advice available on how you might implement it. Which other productivity guru has provided so much specific information at such a low price entry level?

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    • #77
      Originally posted by Folke View Post
      Yes, that's pretty much how I do it now in Doit, too - and also how I used to do it on paper in the last century. I had been hoping, though, that computers would help me do all this a lot more conveniently and accurately
      They do. The problem at the moment is that the mainstream software packages are still too limited or too limited on purpose. OmniFocus is the one contender and it certainly is worth to keep an eye on it.

      If you really want to bend the computer to your will, you can, but that involves scripting.

      I don't know if OmniFocus has a decent AppScript port, but if it has, you are just a mere 50$ or so away from getting what you want. Pay a script kiddy to implement the missing features you need.

      Alternatively this could be done in a similar environment like Excel or SmallTalk. Peace of cake for your next door geek.

      OmniFocus itself started as such a scripting package for OmniOutliner. It is possible to do.


      The one software that does is already is Emacs Org Mode. This has the drawback of being a text-mode based thing, so you end up learning all the keyboard shortcuts to navigate that thing. (Tell me specifically what you want to do in Org Mode and I can tell you how to do it.)

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      • #78
        Retro me, Satanas

        Originally posted by Cpu_Modern View Post
        They do. The problem at the moment is that the mainstream software packages are still too limited or too limited on purpose. OmniFocus is the one contender and it certainly is worth to keep an eye on it.

        If you really want to bend the computer to your will, you can, but that involves scripting.

        I don't know if OmniFocus has a decent AppScript port, but if it has, you are just a mere 50$ or so away from getting what you want. Pay a script kiddy to implement the missing features you need.

        The one software that does is already is Emacs Org Mode. This has the drawback of being a text-mode based thing, so you end up learning all the keyboard shortcuts to navigate that thing. (Tell me specifically what you want to do in Org Mode and I can tell you how to do it.)
        Apple Script is surely the work of the devil, some sort of unholy Frankenstein monster made from parts of other programming languages. And Emacs- a blast from the past. Unfortunately, my fingers twitch vi, not emacs.

        Seriously, the problem with scripts for modern GUI programs is that they take time to write and debug, and they are fragile and break easily. I've used scripts a lot using shell, awk, et cetera, but that's a very different environment to work in. Paying someone to write a script if you can't do it yourself just sounds like a heap of pain somewhere down the line.

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        • #79
          Well, vi is the devils's editor...

          Are you so seriously advanced in vi usage that viper-mode is not good enough for you? If it doesn't hurt too much, you could use org-mode via viper-mode...

          Anyway, I can understand your arguments. Paying someone to do the scripting can be a good exprience, qeustion is how you manage that project. Obviously your computer skills are tops, so chances are your people skillz are bad. I am kidding I am kidding.

          Still I think a lot of it comes down to feelings. You just know that GUI scripting is brittle in comparison to a compiles app, so it feels worse than it actually is. For a geek, that is.

          Comment


          • #80
            Originally posted by Cpu_Modern View Post
            Obviously your computer skills are tops, so chances are your people skillz are bad. I am kidding I am kidding.

            Still I think a lot of it comes down to feelings. You just know that GUI scripting is brittle in comparison to a compiles app, so it feels worse than it actually is. For a geek, that is.
            I'm a physics professor, so I'm not required to have feelings as long as I can emulate them in software. Same with people skills. I don't actually have them, but I can simulate them.

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            • #81
              Judging from your models for humor, I am sure you can!

              Comment


              • #82
                Well said!

                Originally posted by AJS View Post
                If I add a start date to a task it pops up automatically on my task manager to be seen when required, so weekly reviews can be a lot shorter if you don't need to scan a bunch of lists to make sure nothing has been missed.
                Loved your response. What tool(s) do you use in the digital world to help you manage tasks? Specifically, what tool were you referencing in your post above. I currently use a simple Google Docs spreadsheets, which has it's pros and cons. I'm looking for something a little "smarter" that plays nice with the GTD-esque workflow I've been following for some time now.

                Cheers,
                Tony Pinto

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                • #83
                  @tonyp

                  Yes, as you indirectly point out, scanning long lists can be time-consuming, and you may fear that you will still overlook something. But programming review dates or start dates is not necessarily the best solution for you:

                  1) It entails a lot of manual work. You first have to set the timer, of course, and then when the automatic reminder shows up it is very often not a good time to do the task, so you may want to reset the timer, and reset it, and reset it.
                  2) After having reset it, and until it shows up again, it is not easy to find the task - it is still buried in a long list
                  3) All in all, it "institutionalizes" a habit to delay things, rather than do things as early as you can.

                  In my opinion, a better way to deal with this - less work and easier to always find them when you need them - is to use some visible other mechanism in your app, such as perhaps a priority field. When you discover during your reviews (or by using a timer, if you like, but personally I do not need that) that a certain task is now "dangerously late" you change its priority to High. I use an app called Doit, and I then see a red bar on the left for these tasks, regardless of sorting order, and I can even show them all at the very top. This has the immense advantage (IMO) that I can always easily find these tasks even if have chosen not to do them right now.

                  My normal tasks have a blue bar. I systematically scan these only once per day. I also have a turquoise Low priority that I use for tasks that are "totally cool" - where I can rely entirely on filtering, context sorting etc to find them whenever I happen to be in a suitable situation for doing them. These tasks still get done, sometimes quite quickly, but only when it suits me perfectly. These tasks I review systematically as a whole only once per week (and change their priority only if I need to begin considering them systematically/manually every day).

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                  • #84
                    > 1) It entails a lot of manual work. You first have to set the timer,
                    > of course, and then when the automatic reminder shows up it is very
                    > often not a good time to do the task, so you may want to reset the
                    > timer, and reset it, and reset it.

                    In OmniFocus (personal) and Outlook (work), the way I have them configured, a start date doesn't make a task pop up. It just means that when the start date is reached, the task will no longer be hidden from my lists. So it's not a matter of, say, the task announcing itself half an hour before lunch so that I have to reset it. It's just now in the list, when before it wasn't.

                    > 2) After having reset it, and until it shows up again, it is not easy
                    > to find the task - it is still buried in a long list

                    If a task's start date hasn't arrived, I don't want to find it, so this isn't an issue for me.

                    Sometimes I do give too many tasks the same start date, so that suddenly a task list balloons with a bunch of tasks and I do have to reset their start date. I don't find this to be too much of a chore.

                    > 3) All in all, it "institutionalizes" a habit to delay things, rather
                    > than do things as early as you can.

                    But isn't that what Someday/Maybe is? I don't want to do unimportant things as early as I can, if that means that they crowd out more important things.

                    Some tasks are put on indefinite Someday/Maybe, but some tasks I quite reasonably expect to be able to address next week or next month, so I give them a Start date so that they'll pop up at that interval.

                    Comment


                    • #85
                      @Gardener

                      Is it possible that we are talking about two different things?

                      I most certainly make extensive use of ticklers. In other words, I program a "start date" for things that cannot be considered before a certain date. These I want hidden from my Next list, of course, since I would not be able to select them for action even if I wanted to. Example: Go pick up something from a friend who won't be home from his vacation until a certain date. I think we are probably in total agreement as far as those things are concerned.

                      What I was referring to are things that are perfectly possible for me to do anytime, even right now. Even if there is no hurry I do not want to hide these away from my Next list(s), because I want to be able to select them if or when they happen to be a good match for the context I happen to find myself in. Example: Pick up a less important item from my friend if I should happen to go and see him for some other reason.

                      In some cases, and I interpreted (perhaps incorrectly) @tonyp's comment as referring to this kind of case, is when you have a Next action, perfectly possible to do now, but still no hurry, but with a "latest safe starting point" (in order to be able to complete it in time). If you hide those away among your ticklers you are actually increasing the risk of being late with it and you are definitely setting yourself up for doing it "later rather than sooner", a potentially stressful situation. I personally prefer to see these tasks clearly in my list the whole time, in normal priority color, and will try to start on them early if possible. This means I can also make better use of whatever suitable contexts I may just "happen" to find myself in in the meantime.

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                      • #86
                        Originally posted by tonyp View Post
                        What tool(s) do you use in the digital world to help you manage tasks? Specifically, what tool were you referencing in your post above.
                        Not Gardener but I also use Omnifocus in that way.

                        For example, I have a repeating project to get the lamb bag ready in the spring before lambing. I have the project set to the time when I know I can get it ready and not have the filled bag underfoot before I am likely to need it. The date is set base don when we breed the ewes so I have to change it yearly as the breeding dates change. I have it set to come up for review about a month before lambing is due to start so I can look at the schedule and calendar and general workload to decide when to make that project active and allow the tasks to populate my lists. Some of the individual tasks have delay times before they can be done. SO I set dates for them to start up as required.

                        Another current one, we are a research flock for a USDA experiment. I have specific tasks that have to be done on specific days and at very accurate times along with data collection as part of the experiment. I got the research protocol from the researcher about a month ago. I entered in all the tasks and times in my Omnifocus system. I also blocked out appropriate time on my calendar to accomplish the tasks so that nothing got scheduled in those critical times. The individual next actions are set to populate my lists at appropriate times like this

                        Here is my overall project with the tasks indented, context and start dates and some due dates as shown
                        2013 Sheep AI Research Project Completed
                        Decide on experiment and control groups of ewes - LibreOffice
                        sort ewes into experiment and control groups - Outside with help - due 11/18/13
                        Decide on which of 2 experimental treatments each ewe will receive - LibreOffice
                        Enter in decisions into LambTracker - Android programming - due 11/18/13
                        Insert Sponges and CIDRs in experiment ewes - Outside with help - Start 11/19/13 6:30am due 7:00 am
                        PMSG for experiment ewes - Outside with help - Start 11/29/13 6:30 am due 7:00 am
                        Remove Sponges & CIDRs - Outside with help - Start 12/1/13 6:30 am - due 7:00 am
                        Decide on frozen semen vs fresh cooled for treatment groups
                        Enter in decisions into LambTracker - Android Programming - due 12/3/13
                        Sort ewes into frozen or fresh semen groups - Outside with help - due 12/3/13 12:00pm
                        and things continue on from there but you get the idea.

                        Tasks that I can't do don't even show up in their context until I can do them

                        Comment


                        • #87
                          Originally posted by tonyp View Post
                          Loved your response. What tool(s) do you use in the digital world to help you manage tasks? Specifically, what tool were you referencing in your post above. I currently use a simple Google Docs spreadsheets, which has it's pros and cons. I'm looking for something a little "smarter" that plays nice with the GTD-esque workflow I've been following for some time now.

                          Cheers,
                          Tony Pinto
                          I use Doit.im currently. I haven't used Omnifocus, but I've heard it being described as similar to that. I wouldn't call it an ideal GTD tool if you are an absolute purist as the empasis is more on time related task management, so you get a Today view and a Tomorrow view as well as you can schedule tasks further into the future if you like with the aforementioned start dates. I quite like this model and using dates works better for me as it adds some structure to my day/week, but it won't suit everybody.

                          I use start dates similar to how David Allen uses a tickler reminder, in fact he recommends using the calendar for doing exactly this, but many digital task managers allow you to do the same thing effectively. It doesn't mean I am definitely going to do the task on that specific day necessarily. I just need to be reminded of it, and if I don't want to do it, I can just drag it onto another day in the Scheduled which pops up a calendar automatically where I can drop it on the required day as needed.

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                          • #88
                            > In some cases, and I interpreted (perhaps incorrectly) @tonyp's
                            > comment as referring to this kind of case, is when you have a Next
                            > action, perfectly possible to do now, but still no hurry, but with a
                            > "latest safe starting point" (in order to be able to complete it in
                            > time).

                            I generally don't use a "latest safe starting point" but instead an "earliest plausible starting point." I see it as a sort of combination of prioritization and someday/maybe.

                            For example, I *could* start planning my bulb planting for fall of 2014 right now. I could measure spaces, look at pictures, fuss with color schemes, and so on. But I have more important and immediate gardening tasks, and hobby tasks, and the holidays are coming up, and therefore I know there's no real chance that I'll be touching this for several weeks. But I don't want to forget flower bulbs altogether.

                            So I create a project in OmniFocus. I call it "Get fall 2014 flower bulbs in the ground." and give it a start date of January 15, because that's roughly the earliest date that I might conceivably do anything about flower bulbs. I might give it a Next Action, or its Next Action might just be, "Write a Next Action for this project." On January 15, that action will pop up in my main lists.

                            > If you hide those away among your ticklers you are actually
                            > increasing the risk of being late with it and you are definitely
                            > setting yourself up for doing it "later rather than sooner", a
                            > potentially stressful situation.

                            But for many tasks, later is fine. If the latest safe date to start a project is, say, June, and I expect that I'll likely start it in May, then there's no real risk associated with putting it on hold until March.

                            > I personally prefer to see these
                            > tasks clearly in my list the whole time, in normal priority color, and
                            > will try to start on them early if possible. This means I can also
                            > make better use of whatever suitable contexts I may just "happen" to
                            > find myself in in the meantime.

                            I think that this comes down to one's tolerance for long lists. I like my lists nice and short, and a little time spent tweaking Start Dates to make that happen, is worth the trouble for me.

                            Comment


                            • #89
                              @Gardener

                              Yes, i know this is totally possible and a very popular approach. I have used it, too, and still do, especially when I know I have good reasons not do something before a certain date, but have never quite fallen in love with using it as a "prioritization" tool. What I have fallen in love with is my priority color flagging/sorting, which "hides" the committed and possible low priority stuff "in the open" in a way that I can easily avoid looking at it, but can equally easily find it when looking for a particular context - just in case I can squeeze one of those tasks in early when I am in that context. We all have a bit different tastes, I guess. But it also comes down to what kinds of cases we look at.

                              Comment


                              • #90
                                Originally posted by Folke View Post
                                What I have fallen in love with is my priority color flagging/sorting, which "hides" the committed and possible low priority stuff "in the open" in a way that I can easily avoid looking at it, but can equally easily find it when looking for a particular context - just in case I can squeeze one of those tasks in early when I am in that context. We all have a bit different tastes, I guess. But it also comes down to what kinds of cases we look at.
                                For what it's worth, OmniFocus will easily let me see that task--if I go to the appropriate context and switch from seeing "available" to seeing "remaining" tasks, the start-date-hidden tasks will pop up again.

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