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Managing Your Life With GTD, Online Tools and a File Cabinet

With the GTD methodology, you need a calendar, lists, inbox and a good old fashioned file cabinet. Here is an implementation of the GTD using Google Apps, RememberTheMilk.com, HighRise.com, Jott.com, an inbox and a file cabinet.

Calendar: Google Calendar

The “hard landscape” is managed here. I use the RTM Google service to get a quick glance of my todo’s for the day on Google calendar.

Lists: RememberTheMilk.com

I have a pro account with RTM so that I can synchronize with my PocketPC using MilkSync. I find their mobile interface, through Pocket IE, very easy to use. I just wish they would remove the numbers between your list items and allow for viewing all tasks without having to click the “more” link.

I use RTM lists to organize my GTD contexts: @Agendas, @Anywhere, @Call, @Daily (these are daily routine tasks, such as exercise), @Errands, @Home, @Online, @PDA, @Projects, @Read/Review, @Reference, @Shopping, @Waiting For, @Someday / Maybe and @Weekly (these are weekly routine tasks, such as my weekly GTD review)

I use the following GTD non-standard lists: Checklists (for example, here I keep a travel preparation routine), Templates (for example, I use a project template that defines the purpose, results and resources needed) and Weekly Goals (the associated link on this task goes to a Google Doc that contains my overall goals).

I use the following RTM smart lists (the search criteria is listed after the dash):

  • @Focus – priority:1 AND NOT list:@Daily AND NOT list:@Weekly AND (dueBefore:Today OR due:Today)
  • Must Do Today – priority:1 and status:incomplete and dueWithin:”1 day of today”
  • No Due Date – due:never
  • Overdue – dueBefore:today
  • This Month – dueWithin:”1 month of 1st”
  • This Week – dueWithin:”1 week of today” OR dueBefore:today

I use RTM tags for projects in the following format: p-[project name]. When I want to do some vertical planning, I click on the project tag.

When I start a project, I typically will mind map it using MindMeister and then link that mind map to the project list item in RTM.

Contact List: HighRiseHQ.com

I found HighRise to be a great tool to manage and follow your contacts when you are at the desktop (there mobile interface is not there yet).

Whenever I meet a new contact I enter them into the system, add some relevant tags and a meaningful description, and then assign a follow up task. I make sure each contact has a follow up task so that I can maintain relationships over time.

I also BCC HighRise on all email communications and make a note on all phone or in person conversations so that when I talk to someone later all the notes and emails are in one place. Its useful to get photos of your contacts as well and put them on their HighRise profile.

Inbox: Jott.com

I use Jott.com to send tasks and ideas from my phone to RTM.

Inbox: Google Email

I used to use GTD Inbox; however, now I just forward task related emails to my RTM account. The goal is to have a reduced number of inbox’s to check.

Inbox: Physical Inbox

Unfortunately, there is still the need corral snail mail.

Reference: File Cabinet + Bookshelf

The GTD filing method works very will with my workflow. The key, as David mentions, is to make it very easy to use and access. My file cabinet is within arms reach and my labeler is also. I have to get up to peruse my library, but hey, we do need to get up out the chair every once and a while.

Getting Things Done

My execution flow goes like this:

  1. Check Email (all my emails are forward to one Gmail account and I use filters liberally) and do things that can be done in under 2 minutes or else forward into the system.
  2. Check Calendar to make sure I execute any critical items due today.
  3. Check @Focus to keep me focuses on today’s most critical tasks.
  4. Follow the GTD method of execution – Context, Time Available, Energy Available, Priority

Here is a bonus tip: Use ThemBid.com to help grow your @waiting_for list. I just posted a request for help with my logo and it currently has 12 bids after one day.

References:

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
Time Power: A Proven System for Getting More Done in Less Time Than You Ever Thought Possible
How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life (Signet)

Comments

  1. I have removed the @Daily and @Weekly lists, and use tags to denote this special case instead. The list items now reside in the appropriate list contexts.

  2. Very cool that you are using Rememberthemilk.com for your GTD needs. Most people don't see it's potential in this way. An extremely flexible app.
    I'm currently planning a blog launch which will cotain exntensive information about using and optimizing GTD for RTM and vice-versa :D
    Our blogging topics overall seem to have a lot in common. Check out my launch page when you have some time.

  3. Do you track hard landscape items on your calendar in RTM to allow them to be checked off when done?

  4. @Derek

    I track hard landscape items like meetings in my calender, but items that are specifically due on a particular date are tracked in RTM.

  5. Do you use smartlists or standard lists for contexts? I have tried both and really cannot decide which to use…

  6. @Derek

    I use standard lists for contexts. I don't like having to type in a tag for the context each time, even with auto-complete. I reserve tags for projects and special lists, such as checklists.

  7. I am slightly confused… using smart and standard lists only seems to clutter up RTM… why do you use both?

  8. @Derek

    I use smart list to look a particular view. For example I have:

    @Focus for items that are of priority 1 and are either overdue or due today.

    @WorkingFromHome puts all my lists together into one list of items I can do at home, (e.g. @online, @home, @anywhere, etc… but not @errands)

    @ThisWeek shows all items due this week of high priority.

  9. Now if only I could figure out the filing part… would love to use a scanner/one note, but am not sure that will completely nail it…

  10. I am using http://www.taskwriter.com, combined with Gmail and Google Calendar.

    I've tried to use RTM, but it's over my computer skills. I like taskwriter because it's very simple. They are still missing a calendar, and I am trying to cover that with google calendar. I do a lot of copy paste between gmail and taskwriter (it's really nice to have the unique gmail links).

  11. Wow, I am blown away. This is exactly what I'm looking for. Though I must say, it will be hard to stop using GTD Things, which I really really love. It's SO easy to use, but not hooked up to the web.

    Thank you for sharing all of this.

    R

  12. I am using http://www.5pmweb.com moved to 5pm from Basecamp few months ago and still enjoying to work

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  1. [...] Thinking Serious » Managing Your Life With GTD, Online Tools and a File Cabinet With the GTD methodology, you need a calendar, lists, inbox and a good old fashioned file cabinet. Here is an implementation of the GTD using Google Apps, RememberTheMilk.com, HighRise.com, Jott.com, an inbox and a file cabinet. [...]

  2. [...] Thinking Serious » Managing Your Life With GTD, Online Tools and a File Cabinet With the GTD methodology, you need a calendar, lists, inbox and a good old fashioned file cabinet. Here is an implementation of the GTD using Google Apps, RememberTheMilk.com, HighRise.com, Jott.com, an inbox and a file cabinet. [...]

  3. [...] Managing Your Life With GTD, Online Tools and a File Cabinet – Thinking Serious looks at on-line tools and a filing cabinet to manage GTD methodology. [...]

  4. [...] Managing Your Life With GTD, Online Tools and a File Cabinet – Thinking Serious looks at on-line tools and a filing cabinet to manage GTD methodology. [...]

  5. [...] I use RTM as my master to do list for implementing GTD. I find it useful to separately bookmark each page that I check most frequently, such as my @Focus and @Errands lists. [...]

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  7. [...] Managing Your Life with GTD, Online Tools and a File Cabinet: Whip yourself into shape by getting organized the GTD way. This article will show you how to [...]

  8. [...] Managing Your Life with GTD, Online Tools and a File Cabinet: Whip yourself into shape by getting organized the GTD way. This article will show you how to [...]

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