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Confused on initial setup. How many systems?

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  • Confused on initial setup. How many systems?

    I have just finished putting my massive inbox together and its time to start processing everything. I use Remember the Milk (RTM) so I decided to keep using it initially. My question is if there is anyway to AVOID setting up 3 parallel systems. RTM is the main one but it seems I need some folders in outlook as well as physical folders.

    For RTM I have my Contexts setup as Tags - @HOME @COMPUTER @ERRANDS @CALLS etc. For lists I have @Projects @Reference @Sometime_Maybe @Waiting_For and @Next_Actions

    But it seems within outlook I will still need the same lists since many will originate from email or have support info relating to it. I will also need to add a "Readings/Review" for pdfs and email articles to read.

    Then it seems I will still need a manilla folder to hold related documents for stuff within those lists that are physical.

    I guess what I am trying to say is it ok to have replicas for the LISTS between my todo list (RTM) my email system and my filing system?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  • #2
    You are right to be wary of multiple systems. Most time management experts will tell you that if you have more than one, you'll never know where anything is. (Or possibly two, if you can draw a clear line between home and work.)

    However, there's nothing wrong with having multiple *tools.* I keep my lists on paper and my calendar electronically, for instance. Plenty of people synchronize their lists between computer and PDA, between multiple computers, and so forth.

    I'm not familiar with RTM, so I don't know whether it will synchronize with Outlook. If it will, problem solved. If it won't, you may find that the extra effort of entering everything in one place more than justifies itself.

    That's for NA and Project *lists*. It sounds like much of what you're talking about is actually project *support materials*, though. Remember that items -- whether email or physical -- don't make good reminders. Enter "read article foo" on your NA list and then file the item in a project support folder using whatever method makes the most sense.

    Good luck!

    Katherine

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    • #3
      Originally posted by jimbo.jones View Post
      My question is if there is anyway to AVOID setting up 3 parallel systems. RTM is the main one but it seems I need some folders in outlook as well as physical folders.
      [snip]
      I guess what I am trying to say is it ok to have replicas for the LISTS between my todo list (RTM) my email system and my filing system?
      It's ok if synchronization is *really* effortless. That may be easy for software-to-software sync, although I have yet to see it working...

      It may even be easy for paper-to-software sync and back if you have an admin doing this for you.

      However, I suggest that you choose *one* favorite tool for any given context. It is unnecessary to use RTM *and* Outlook to manage your todos for the @Computer context, e.g. Either one of these tools is best, then stick with it and drop the other one. Or, for instance, @Computer is actually @Computer.Home and @Computer.Office, maybe because you're not allowed to use RTM in your office or Outlook at home. If so, split up your context into two, they're different beasts anyway.

      Maybe your @Next_Actions list was misleading you a little: GTD does not advocate using such a list. @Home, @Computer, etc. are *all* next-actions lists. @Next_Actions would not tell you the context needed for the actions.

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      • #4
        > is there is anyway to AVOID setting up 3 parallel systems

        As you've discovered most people find they need three places for project plans and reference: Paper folders, email system folders, and hard disk (document) folders. No way around it, it seems, unless you go to extremes (print everything, scan everything, etc.)

        One thing that I recommend strongly is use the same name for them all - the name of the project.

        > But it seems within outlook I will still need the same lists since many will originate from email or have support info relating to it.

        Remember, you'll be pulling action out of emails, and storing them in your action management system (calendar plus the three lists above). Then just save the in-process emails in an "@Action Support" email folder. If you choose to track action in Outlook, try to track *all* action there. Don't use multiple tools for the same kind of thing if you can help it. That said, one possibility is to track action in email using an "@Action" email folder. Drag any actionable emails (that can't be done in 2 minutes) into this folder for "as soon as possible." However, you must now review "@Action" along with your other action lists to decide what to do next. Also, the granularity of the "@Action" folder is not good. (This is a problem because often a single email will contain multiple actions.)

        > I will also need to add a "Readings/Review" for pdfs and email articles to read.

        If you're mixing paper and digital, then yes - duplicate systems. I tend to print out R/R, so I have just one... But my *queue* of readings is a list in a text file, so go figure.

        > Then it seems I will still need a manilla folder to hold related documents for stuff within those lists that are physical.

        Yep. See above re: three folders.

        Good questions. Not sure if that helps...

        Comment


        • #5
          I had this same problem when I started my system. Except I was concerned with using Outlook (necessary for work) for my @Home private stuff.

          I would suggest using Outlook as your priamary tool for the following reasons:
          1. The Outlook Add-in has a 30 day trial which you'll probably fall in love with if you give yourself the time to learn how to use it. It's not that it's hard to use --- it just takes a few new habits (just like GTD...)
          2. Outlook will be able handle everything that comes your way (or at least it does for me) --- Email, Calendar, Notes --- it does it all.
          3. Many people use outlook so there is lots of support and places to find answers to your questions.
          4. If you have a palm or blackberry --- the mobile synch capabilities rock! I use a BlackBerry with the NextAction! program. I love it.

          I'm just happy that my system is all set up --- now I just need to concentrate on my GTD habits.

          Good luck!

          Ryan

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