~10 years with GTD and OF - my experience distilled into a single post


#21

Thanks for your response. I’m going to give this some thought. My OF system is in some ways the opposite of yours – I use a lot of single action lists. Many of my projects involve the same steps, over and over, and I know them by muscle memory by now. To write an article, I open my notes and supporting documents, open a blank markdown document, and get to work. When I am done writing, I uploaded to our content management system. Then I start the next article.

I have a single action list called “writing,” with individual items that are the names of articles that are researched and need to be written.


#22

@colicoid, I tried to condense my questions:

  1. Normally things like “buy eggs” or “pick up laundry” would be single-action list items for me. Would you create a separate project for each of those things, or do you create projects like “Buy groceries” and “Run errands?” Or, do you avoid putting that level of action in OF altogether?

  2. What standard folders did you create?

  3. What were your standard contexts?

  4. What custom perspectives did you use?

  5. How did you organize items into a “weekly” list? Did you have a folder called “weekly” and just drop what you wanted to complete that week into the weekly folder?

  6. What was your daily review and flagging process like? Did you just read through everything in your weekly bucket and flag what you wanted to achieve that day?

  7. Did you complete weekly reviews? If so, did you spend the recommended 60-90 minutes on them, or did you do a more abbreviated version?

  8. I’m struggling with how to create and manage a “tickler” file. One way is to defer items in your inbox and leave them in your inbox, but then you run the risk of actually missing reviewing them on the day you’re supposed to review them. Or, did you ignore the defer date setting and rely solely on the “next review” date? If so, did you end up with a review list that listed tasks from a variety of areas, including inbox, projects, someday/maybe?

  9. There are a few ways of managing someday/maybe items: 1) Creating a folder called “Someday/Maybe,” pausing every on hold project and dropping it into that folder. 2) Creating a SAL, pausing it and dropping every project and task into that list. 3) Creating a paused Someday/Maybe context and adding tasks to that context. How did you manage your Someday/Maybe items?

  10. Did you use shorthand for your project titles or write them out as complete-able items. In other words, “Sign up for new health insurance plan” or “New health insurance?” It’s a nit-picky point, but I’m curious. I believe the purist GTD approach is to write out the full project title, but sometimes the project title gets so long that it is cut off and hard to read in the standard OF view.

  11. Based on your weekly list and use of flags, it sounds like you didn’t buy into the GTD principle that work should be context-driven rather than priority-driven, because the real world interrupts pre-defined priorities too frequently. Am I reading that right?

  12. What did you do about “waiting for” items? If you were waiting for someone else to act before taking a next step on your project, would you make a note of it in Omnifocus, or did you just leave a project without a next action listed, knowing that the ball was in someone else’s court?

Thanks so much for your help!


#23
  1. Normally things like “buy eggs” or “pick up laundry” would be single-action list items for me. Would you create a separate project for each of those things, or do you create projects like “Buy groceries” and “Run errands?” Or, do you avoid putting that level of action in OF altogether?

Those are perfect for SAL’s.

  1. What standard folders did you create?

Only you can decide. Try to keep the number of folders down by having broad areas. Use techniques to hide the stuff you can’t work on in the near future and bring it back to life during review.
What I don’t like about folders is that they can only be “active” or “dropped” so I try to limit mysel to creating folders that I will allwyas want to keep. If I drop them, I will never need them again. Instead of having the folder “Work” - I might have the folder named after the company I work at. If I were to leave that company and start at a new one, I can drop that folder along with all its projects and never worry about it again.

  1. What were your standard contexts?
    I never arrived at a perfect set of contexts. I kept changing them. I think you shouldn’t expect them to be too static in nature. Keep working and simplifying your system to keep it fresh. One set of contexts I couldn’t live without though are the people contexts such as @John, @Dad etc.

  2. What custom perspectives did you use?
    If you focus on the “Work” folder or similar, you don’t really need this.

  3. How did you organize items into a “weekly” list? Did you have a folder called “weekly” and just drop what you wanted to complete that week into the weekly folder?

No. Try hiding all projects that you will not work on this week. Flag everything you want to work on today.
If you run out of flagged items you can go scouting in the projects and tasks that are visible.
Make sure the projects/tasks you want to work on next week pop up on your weekly review so you can bring them back to life.

The most dishearting thing about GTD is wading through projects, tasks and folders that you don’t want to- or are not able to work on. Hiding stuff is much better because it keeps OF and your mind clean…

Also, make sure you rewrite your projects and tasks so that they feel relevant. This is the best part about using pen and paper / bulletjournaling.

  1. What was your daily review and flagging process like? Did you just read through everything in your weekly bucket and flag what you wanted to achieve that day?

See no 5.

  1. Did you complete weekly reviews? If so, did you spend the recommended 60-90 minutes on them, or did you do a more abbreviated version?

Yes but much less time. Don’t let the system itself consume you.

  1. I’m struggling with how to create and manage a “tickler” file. One way is to defer items in your inbox and leave them in your inbox, but then you run the risk of actually missing reviewing them on the day you’re supposed to review them. Or, did you ignore the defer date setting and rely solely on the “next review” date? If so, did you end up with a review list that listed tasks from a variety of areas, including inbox, projects, someday/maybe?

You can flag it and defer it so it pops up on you “today” view at the specified date. Be mindful of soft- vs hard dates.

  1. There are a few ways of managing someday/maybe items: 1) Creating a folder called “Someday/Maybe,” pausing every on hold project and dropping it into that folder. 2) Creating a SAL, pausing it and dropping every project and task into that list. 3) Creating a paused Someday/Maybe context and adding tasks to that context. How did you manage your Someday/Maybe items?

There is no good way of handling Someday/Maybe items. It is a dumping ground for where “stuff” goes to die. :)
I do have it, I just don’t care too much about it. Why put “repaint the shed” in the someday maybe? My wife will surely remind me that it needs to be done until it eventually can’t be avoided and I just have to do it.
Ok, so you say it should be positive things? Why put “learn knitting”? If you really want to do it, your inner drive will cause you to just do it. If you put that task into your someday maby list/folder and never get to it. Maybe its just not worth it. “Read the blog about …” Yea, you could put that there but if you review it multiple times and without taking the time to read it, again, maybe you never will. I find that during periods of procastination, I almost never go to my reading lists in OF. I just surf around looking for new stuff that interests me at the moment. Its not a bad thing to “let life drive you” a little bit.
I must say, I have very mixed feelings about someday maybe lists…

  1. Did you use shorthand for your project titles or write them out as complete-able items. In other words, “Sign up for new health insurance plan” or “New health insurance?” It’s a nit-picky point, but I’m curious. I believe the purist GTD approach is to write out the full project title, but sometimes the project title gets so long that it is cut off and hard to read in the standard OF view.

I experimented at length with this. The purist GTD approach is to write out the project as if it was already completed and its supposed to increase your motivation to get it done. It doesn’t…
Its awkward to write and to look at and the project titles get very unintuitive and long.
Old school “New health insurance” is fine for project titles in my opinion. You can use some short hand notations. I used “FU” for “Follow Up” for example.

  1. Based on your weekly list and use of flags, it sounds like you didn’t buy into the GTD principle that work should be context-driven rather than priority-driven, because the real world interrupts pre-defined priorities too frequently. Am I reading that right?

Contexts are not quite what they used to be. I love the idea of contexts but there are only a handful of contexts that are actually useful.
@phone or @web are not a very useful contexts for most people for example. Nowdays, you always have your phone and you can always surf the web on you smart phone. Those contexts were great back in the day when David inveted GTD but today you will have to come up with other more uptodate contexts.

Contexts for people are very useful. You could invent other contexts for @boardmeeting or @weeklystandup where you need to adress topics from multiple projects in a certain situation. Especially if you are very generous with your definition of projects, like I am.

  1. What did you do about “waiting for” items? If you were waiting for someone else to act before taking a next step on your project, would you make a note of it in Omnifocus, or did you just leave a project without a next action listed, knowing that the ball was in someone else’s court?

I have experimented with multiple solutions, such as @waitingfor, rewriting the title of the task, @person, projects with 2 tasks (1. the task, 2. follow up on the delegation) etc. etc.
Never really found the perfect way. Now that OF supports tags maybe a better system could be put together.
I think OmniGroup should innovate around delegation. I actually delegate most of my tasks and I need to follow up on that they have actually been done.

Hope this helps…


#24

This is extremely helpful, @colicoid. One quick follow-up:

What do you mean by “hiding” stuff? Do you mean deferring it? Pausing it? Just not clear on what action in OF you’re referring to by “hiding.”


#25

Yes, both of those.
The main concept is to make things disappear temporarily and either have them become visible again automatically at certain dates or intervals, or bring them back manually via a routine such as review. I prefer the review/routine method but use both depending on what the task is.