Remember the Milk and GTD

picture-1.pngRemember the Milk is a free online task manager that, although not designed specifically as a GTD application, can work well as one. It’s extremely versatile and there are various ways it can be set up.

Your list of tasks are on the left. When you select a task its details are shown in a box on the right. You can add a due date, repeat and time estimation amongst others. You are also able to add keywords which is how I added contexts – @errands, @mac, etc. Notes can also be added.

There are five default lists or tabs when you first start – inbox, personal, study, work and sent. I used lists in place of projects and had my tasks within them. Generally this worked pretty well. A disadvantage is that when a project is completed I couldn’t find a way of archiving it. I think you just have to delete it.

To create a next actions list I marked actions as high priority and created a smart list that only searched for this priority. I don’t really like having to manually mark tasks as next actions but it works okay.

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Early to bed, early to rise

When I first started this productivity drive a few weeks ago I kept wishing I had more hours in the day. I had so much on my to-do list that I wanted to tick off but was finding it hard to fit it all in. So I decided to start getting up earlier. I had recently read a few articles about the benefits of waking early and thought I’d give it a try.

On a week day my usual getting-up time was from quarter past to half past seven. At a weekend, if we had nothing in particular planned we’d get up at about nine. Two weeks ago I decided I would start getting up at half past six. This would give me about an hour extra on weekdays and at least two hours more on weekends – in other words, at least nine hours extra per week. Read the rest of this entry »

Cleaning my house the FlyLady way

I have a confession to make. I subscribe to the FlyLady mailing list. Here’s how it happened…

Two months ago I started reading about Getting Things Done. I hadn’t intentionally gone in search of methods of increasing my productivity – I just came across it while reading some Mac blogs. At the time I was completely disorganised. The house was a mess, the washing was lying unsorted in various laundry baskets, my “things to read for work” pile was huge and the desk was so covered in who-knows-what that I could barely find the mouse. The task of sorting it all out was so overwhelming that I continually put it off and spent most of my time on the computer instead of being productive. The whole concept of GTD and being able to get myself organised really excited me. So I started looking for more productivity hacks – I discovered 43 Folders, which indirectly led me to the FlyLady website.

Nine years ago Marla Cilley was as disorganised as I was. She decided to do something about it and devised a scheme to get her house sorted out. She gradually developed cleaning and tidying routines and over a period of nine months her house was transformed. She set up a website with how she did it and all the routines she uses. The basic idea is that you gradually build up simple routines that then become habits.

I’ll explain how it works. Read the rest of this entry »

Midnight Inbox – a short review

Midnight Inbox is another of the GTD apps I have tried. I’m keeping this review brief as Midnight Beep have already announced that a public beta of the new Inbox 2 will be released on 1st February.

I have mixed feeling regarding Inbox. The first is a negative – the website is really slow. I’m not sure why – maybe it’s something to do with the background picture taking a long time to download? Don’t know. But it’s slow to load and really slow to scroll. It just doesn’t give a good impression.

Inbox is a rigid GTD application. If you’re not familiar with GTD principles you’ll find this application pretty confusing. Some may like that it follows the book so closely but I can imagine many will be put off by it.

First it “collects”. You can enter manual to-dos or it will automatically scan your Mac and pick up all new emails, iCal to-dos and events, text documents, desktop files and bookmarks. I really don’t like this automatic method at all. I want more control and don’t like being told what is a task. Read the rest of this entry »

Q & A by Vikas Swarup

I’ve just finished reading Q & A by Vikas Swarup. It tells the story of Ram Mohammad Thomas, an eighteen year old waiter in Mumbai, India. He wins one billion rupees after answering twelve questions correctly on a television quiz show, Who Will Win a Billion (similar to Who Wants to be a Millionaire). The show’s producers are convinced he must have cheated. He’s an uneducated orphan who has spent much of his living in slums – how could he possibly know the answers? Read the rest of this entry »

Ready-Set-Do! – a review

Ready-Set-Do! by Todd Vasquez is very different to all the other GTD solutions I have tried. It isn’t an application as such – it is a collection of AppleScripts that use ordinary folders on your Mac.

The initial download takes ages as it is huge – as well as the AppleScripts it also contains a lot of help fils and two QuickTime movies. Once downloaded, you run the installer. After lots of noise from my hard drive, various windows opening and closing and being asked to empty the trash, I was all set. You’ll end up with a load of new folders on your desktop (and anything previously on the desktop has been moved into its own folder). A word of advice for those trying this on Leopard. You’ll need to drag the Ready-Set-Do! folder to the right side of the dock to create a stack. You’ll also need to open the RSD folder and drag folders nine and ten to create their own stacks. (A blip with Leopard – there are no problems with Tiger.)

I would highly recommend watching the QuickTime tutorial movies. They are excellent and take you step by step how the system works. Basically the whole thing sticks rigidly to the Getting Things Done principles. It would be hard to follow if you didn’t know at least the basics of GTD. Read the rest of this entry »

EasyTask Manager – a short review

EasyTask Manager from Orionbelt.com is a GTD app for Mac or Windows. (I’ve only used the Mac version.) It has a nice clean interface that’s pretty intuitive to use. It’s easy to dive straight in and start adding tasks without needing to read the help files. (Which actually, I didn’t find all that helpful.)

Tasks are added by clicking the “Add Task” icon. A window opens and you are able to put in all the details. Tasks can be given a status, such as “Next Action” or “On Hold” which I like. New projects are added at the same time as tasks. They are not added separately. I found this a little confusing at first. Especially as when you create a new project it isn’t automatically selected. I found myself inadvertently adding tasks to the default project “EasyTask” on a few occasions. Start and due dates can be typed in or added with the mini calendar. You can’t type phrases such as “in 2 weeks” or “next fri” which is a shame. There is also a “link” button but I haven’t been able to work out what it does. If you click it it says “please select some text” but I don’t know what happens to the text!

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