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A Simple GTD-7 Habits Implementation of RTM

osarjeant Pro says:

I've found a simple way to use RTM and all of its functionality to implement a system that is effective - things get done. What's more is that it is low maintenance. I can actually leave it for a day or four and a 15 min review gets everything back in order and I'm back to doing things. I see what I need to see when I need to see it.

Setup:
Create 3 locations: Home, Office, Errands
Create 7 smart list:
>>>Home-"location:Home"
>>>Office-"location:Office"
>>>Errands-"location:Errands" (I put errands in Greenland just for giggles)
>>>Anywhere-"isLocation: false"
>>>Priorities-"NOT priority:n"
>>>Today-"due:Today"
>>>Overdue-"dueBefore:Today"
Create 1 List:
>>> ToDo - for task that are standalone

Concept:
List = Projects
Task = Tasks
Smart List = Context Based List
Tags = More Specific Context

System:
Anything that you want to get done make a list for it. (Assuming it will take more that one tasks.) For example: Clean Bathroom. In this list add at least on action that you can do next. Add more if you want. That's it.

We'll almost, to be more efficient, add a location such that if it can ONLY be done at Home add location Home. Use tags to be more specific with context, such as tag:online or tag:computer or tag:kitchen. Add a due date if it has one. Add a priority if you want - more on priorities in a bit. The smart list that were created in the setup will help you focus on things you can do where you are at. When you do your review, just check that every project has a next action.

Optional:
Highly recommend using A Bit Better RTM as this puts your list aka projects into a list and adds a number of tasks to each list/project.

Priorities:
7 Habits uses the 4 quadrants which is how I use priorities, but instead of using "important vs not important" I use the following:
>>> 1 Critical-Urgent and Detrimental if Not Completed (In other words Need to Do)
>>> 2 Crucial-Not Urgent and Detrimental if Not Completed
>>> 3 Beneficial-Beneficial If Completed
>>> 4 Optional-Something I just want to do

Your Priorities smart list will only show P1-P3. You can create separate smart list for each quadrant, but I find this unnecessary.

In this respect 1 & 2 are Mandatory and 3 & 4 are Optional. Only Mandatory items can be urgent since I don't actually have to do the rest.

Errands:
Use tags to list the stores or places that you could complete these tasks. For example Buy Tide - tag: target, giant, costco allows me to search tags by store when I'm at that store and see everything from all my projects that I could buy at that store.

Clean Up:
Once you complete the project delete the list. If it is a repeating project go to the completed tab and uncompleted all the task that you need to do again. I find this method easier to manage than setting "soft" due dates that repeat.

Final Thoughts:
This system is for getting stuff done so there is no someday list, however, anything without a priority is a "someday item" so its a nice way to sneak it in, with the benefit that if I get my higher priorities done I can begin working on those someday items.

If you think you have too many projects, keep in mind that doing is what brings that list down. I find myself doing task simply because I want to delete the list.

So that's it. Any suggestions are welcome.

Posted at 7:01pm on December 21, 2013

nico4000 says:

Thanks a lot for your system descriptions, syntax examples and making things a lot clear now 4 me )

Posted 11 months ago

kenneth.portnoy Pro says:

IMHO This is not compatible with Covey's 7-habits. You have fallen into the trap of elevating urgency above importance. Your response to the urgency of feared detrimental outcomes raises their priority while reducing the priority of important activities. This is exactly the human tendency that Covey fixes with his approach. See Note at end.

In Covey all detrimental impacts are "Urgent". Detrimental impacts are then broken out as Important or not. This distributes detrimental impacts into Prio 1 or Prio 3. In your scheme, all detrimental impacts sort into Priority 1 & 2. This has the effect of elevating Covey's Prio 3 to your Prio 2. As as result, you'll be putting efforts into Urgent/Not Important stuff rather than the more significant Important/Not Urgent.

Don't dink with perfection. Mapping Covey to RTM is easy.
RTM Priority 1 - Quadrant 1 - Urgent & Important
RTM Priority 2 - Quadrant 2 - Important/Not Urgent
RTM Priority 3 - Quadrant 3 - Urgent/Not Important
RTM No Priority - Quadrant 4 - Not Urgent/Not Important

Also, your phrasing creates a negative atmosphere, a downer culture with motivation based on the dread of negative outcomes rather than the vision of a better future. Ugh!!!!

Note: Covey cribbed the "4 Quadrants." The scheme has been traced to then General Dwight "Ike" Eisenhower, used for planning the Normandy Invasion, if not earlier.

Posted 4 months ago

osarjeant Pro says:

Kenneth,

Let us first make sure we understand each other. I am not changing the mapping, but am substituting "mandatory" for "important". I find important to be too vague of a word, but in my endeavor to define mandatory I realized that the things I feel I have to do are the things that, if not done, would have a negative consequence. This negative consequence includes opportunity cost.

For example a bill that is due tomorrow is a "mandatory" and "urgent" task, thus "critical". Not paying it would have an immediate, negative consequence. Another example: boss puts me up for a promotion and needs an updated resume tonight - "critical" because not doing it would have a negative consequence in the lost opportunity to advance in the company. Those are the easy ones to understand.

The next quadrant, "crucial", for which a task is "mandatory" but not "urgent" tends to include everyday things like chores and work projects that are not due immediately. These are things that HAVE to get done or will lead to negative consequences. If I leave dirty dishes in the sink it affects my relationship and risk my health but that negative affect is not immediate an thus it is a "crucial" task but not "critical". Buying an anniversary gift ahead of time is "crucial". It is time sensitive, but not "urgent"; however waiting until the last minute is a negative consequence because I loss the opportunity to get the best gift that I can and have to settle. And I have to get a gift.

Going out with friends to a football game is "beneficial". I get out of the house, see my friends and have a good time, but nothing bad happens if I miss the game. Therefore it is optional, but if it is tomorrow or has any time sensitivity then I cannot simply ignore it. There is a sense of urgency attached to it and I leave it there in quadrant 3 after the mandatory stuff. The key here is that the dishes get washed before I go to the game because the latter is "mandatory" or "important" and the former not. This despite the game being "urgent" and the dishes not.

The last quadrant is something I enjoy like TV watching. Not beneficial, not mandatory. If I never get to it, no problem.

So I would agree that there is a level of negative motivation in this setup, but for me it is more realistic and helps me sort through my task better. Also negative consequences does not equate to urgency, but are the things that I choose to deal with first because they stress me the most. GTD and 7 Habits is about being effective and stress free and my philosophy is to face the stress head on. I deal with things not out of fear, but from a position of being proactive.

Posted 4 months ago

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