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Share Your Smart Lists and Your Tags -- Your RTM "System"

wcitypoe says:

So, how do you organize yourself? What is your RTM "system"?

I have a list for each project I'm using. I also keep reading lists -- BooksFun and BooksStudy -- in RTM, as well as a list called Expand which contains larger-scale projects I need to break down into manageable chunks. (Once I'm done with a project, I archive the list.)

My tags are either @hold - a special tag I use to essentially 'hide' a task -- or @web, @home, @work, @mac -- stuff I can only do on the Web, at home, at work, or on my home Mac, respectively.

I have the following smart lists:

@Default (the startup one):
This is the basic structure of most of my smart lists. It basically lists tasks that are never due, overdue, or due within 10 days; this keeps stuff happening very further off out of my focus. It excludes my reading lists, my "expand" list, and any task that's been put on @hold.
(due:never OR dueBefore:today OR dueWithin:"10 days of today") NOT (list:BooksFun OR list:BooksStudy OR list:Expand OR tag:@hold)

@Home
(Same as above, but excludes tasks containing my @work tag)
(due:never OR dueBefore:today OR dueWithin:"10 days of today") NOT (tag:@work OR list:BooksFun OR list:BooksStudy OR list:Expand OR tag:@hold)

@Work
(Same as above, but excludes tasks containing my @home or @mac tag)
(due:never OR dueBefore:today OR dueWithin:"10 days of today") NOT (tag:@home OR tag:@mac OR list:BooksFun OR list:BooksStudy OR list:Expand OR tag:@hold)

@NoDue
(Since I sometimes tend to focus on time-sensitive tasks, I have a special list to make me pay attention to the ones that don't have a due date attached to them)
due:never NOT (list:BooksFun OR list:BooksStudy OR list:Expand OR tag:@hold)

@zATTN
Stuff I've either postponed a lot or is overdue.
dueBefore:today OR postponed:"> 5"

@zPatOnBack
Just so I remember what I've actually been doing lately. :)
completedWithin:"2 weeks"

Mike

Posted at 2:41pm on May 7, 2007

raymond.bergmark ProPower Poster says:

I have tried to implement a GTD approach:
Lists: Inbox, Next step, Later, Sometime, Waiting for, Sent. Default list Next step

Locations: @work, @home, @summer cabin, @place-to-get-something

Tags: Various projects at work/home etc

Durations: An estimate (1-2 hours most often)

Deadlines: Only when necessary, I don't invent my own

Priorities: Not used

To view my tasks I use Smart lists. Typical Smart list search criteria:
location:@work AND tag:volymes
Volumes is a project

I also have a list to check that all tasks have complete info:
(list:Inbox) OR (isLocated:false) OR (NOT timeEstimate:">0 min") OR (tag:List-of-no-longer-used-tags)

To enter a task I usually duplicate an old task and enter the next step in the project.

Posted 7 years ago

ranbarton ProPower Poster says:

This is a great thread to start. So good that it's taken me two weeks to sit down and compose a reply...

First off, as soon as RTM added tags, I moved to having all of my tasks in one bin (named "." to be as narrow as possible; an artifact of RTM's ugliness once you have a lot of tabs). So at any time a task is either in my inbox or in the bin. I then use smart lists to slice and dice. Before Gcal, I used another bin for events to create an agenda, but I haven't done that in some time.

Like rajjan, I use smartlists to audit my tasks that are not fully filed, but I use two lists to speed my data entry:

(NOT timeEstimate:"> 0") AND status:incomplete

and the old favorite

isTagged:false

I then have smartlists that key off of tags to list my bills (all monthly recurring, sadly); errands; calls; emails; chores; home; work; etc.; and tasks slated for the coming weekend

dueWithin:"1 day of sat" OR dueWithin:"1 day of sun"

I have a 2day list:

due:today

and I also use an "Active" list as my basis for printing things out

(dueWithin:"1 days of today" OR dueBefore:"today") AND status:incomplete

I have a list of stuff that's late:

dueBefore:today

and of late items that are also recurring (trash, etc. - stuff I often forget to check off)

isRepeating:true AND dueBefore:today

A heads up list of the next 7 days' stuff (minus recurring stuff)

dueWithin:"7 days of today" AND status:incomplete AND isRepeating:false

Plus a quickie list for odd moments...

status:incomplete AND (dueBefore:tomorrow OR due:never) AND timeEstimate:"< 6 minutes"

I can offer more detail if anyone wishes. I encourage others to post their lists, too. I learn a lot to see how others chop up their mountain of things to do. My thanks to the many whose ideas I've used to create my lists above.

Posted 7 years ago

drorsnir says:

wcitypoe: your post was extremely helpful and definitely changed the way I was working with this service. Thanks!

Posted 7 years ago

jsellen says:

I agree, great post.
I think it helps illustrate a point I am trying to make, and that is that it would be extremely useful to have a 'start date' upon when tasks become active. You can see how wcitypoe is trying to workaround this concept by having (due:never OR dueBefore:today OR dueWithin:"10 days of today") when what is really needed is (startBefore:today)

Not only would this simplify things, but it prevents important but longer term items from slipping through the cracks until only 10 days notice. It would also help remove clutter caused by trivial items which only need a day or two of lead time but that by this system will be displayed for 10 days.

More details on my request here:
http://www.rememberthemilk.com/forums/ideas/2177/

Posted 7 years ago

whibs says:

Great tips! As a result of playing with these ideas I've hit upon an idea for maintaining lists of projects and associated tasks. Before I go into that, I shall summarize my system so far (largely based on the ideas of others and subject to change!)

Locations: @Errands, @Personal, @Work
These are my contexts. I noticed that locations appear in the tag cloud, which may be useful to list every task for the context regardless of task 'type' (ie. action, someday etc). Also, the @ notation ensures all contexts are grouped at the top of the cloud. Nice!

Lists: Inbox, GTD, WishList, Sent
All my GTD stuff goes into one list, as I've found that it's a bit cumbersome to transfer tasks between lists (no keyboard shortcuts), but that's something I can live with when manipulating the Inbox contents.

Smart Lists (cryptic names for nice narrow tabs):

Name: @E_a
Description: @Errands - next actions. 'Due' and 'Time' should be set for each task.
Search string: list:GTD AND location:@Errands AND tag:_action

Name: @E_s
Description: @Errands - someday/maybe. 'Due' and 'Time' not set.
Search string: list:GTD AND location:@Errands AND tag:_someday

Name: @P_a
Description: @Personal - next actions. 'Due' and 'Time' should be set for each task.
Search string: list:GTD AND location:@Personal AND tag:_action

Name: @P_p
Description: @Personal - projects list. Each project should have a unique 'pn_name' tag, where n is the initial of the context and name is a meaningful name for the project (see later).
Search string: list:GTD AND location:@Personal AND tag:_project

Name: @P_s
Description: @Personal - someday/maybe. 'Due' and 'Time' not set.
Search string: list:GTD AND location:@Personal AND tag:_someday

Name: @P_w
Description: @Personal - waiting for. 'Due' set to mark when the task was set to waiting status.
Search string: list:GTD AND location:@Personal AND tag:_waiting

Name: @W_a
Description: @Work - next actions. 'Due' and 'Time' should be set for each task.
Search string: list:GTD AND location:@Work AND tag:_action

Name: @W_p
Description: @Work - projects list. Each project should have a unique 'pn_name' tag, where n is the initial of the context and name is a meaningful name for the project (see later).
Search string: list:GTD AND location:@Work AND tag:_project

Name: @W_s
Description: @Work - someday/maybe. 'Due' and 'Time' not set.
Search string: list:GTD AND location:@Work AND tag:_someday

Name: @W_w
Description: @Work - waiting for. 'Due' set to mark when the task was first set to waiting status.
Search string: list:GTD AND location:@Work AND tag:_waiting

Name: Cmplt
Description: 'Pat on the back' list of recently completed tasks.
Search string: list:GTD AND completedWithin:"2 weeks of today" AND isRepeating:false

Name: Qck
Description: Lists all action tasks estimated to take 20 minutes or less.
Search string: list:GTD AND timeEstimate:"< 21 min" AND tag:_action

Name: Rpt
Description: Lists all repeating action tasks.
Search string: list:GTD AND isRepeating:true AND tag:_action

Name: SevenDays
Description: Lists all action tasks due in the next seven days (excluding repeating tasks).
Search string: list:GTD AND dueWithin:"7 days of today" AND status:incomplete AND isRepeating:false AND tag:_action

Name: Today
Description: All action tasks due today and overdue tasks.
Search string: list:GTD AND dueBefore:tomorrow AND tag:_action

Name: Urgent
Description: Tasks which should have been actioned but haven't (yet).
Search string: list:GTD AND (dueBefore:today OR postponed:"> 5") AND tag:_action

Name: W/E
Description: All action tasks intended to be actioned at the weekend.
Search string: list:GTD AND (dueWithin:"1 day of sat" OR dueWithin:"1 day of sun") AND tag:_action

Name: zCont
Description: Audit list - show all tasks which haven't had a context (location) defined
Search string: list:GTD AND isLocated:false

Name: zDue
Description: Audit list - show all action tasks which haven't had a due date defined.
Search string: list:GTD AND due:never AND tag:_action

Name: zTag
Description: Audit list - show all tasks which haven't been tagged with anything at all.
Search string: list:GTD AND isTagged:false

Name: zTime
Description: Audit list - show all action tasks which haven't had a time estimate set.
Search string: list:GTD AND (NOT timeEstimate:"> 0") AND status:incomplete AND tag:_action

List inheritance behaviour
One neat feature I've noted of RTM is that new tasks created under any smart list will inherit the tags and location defined in that list's search string (provided the search is unambiguous i.e. there are no ORs in that search string). This makes adding tasks for a particular context and task type simplicity itself. For instance, creating a new task in the @P_a smart list will automatically set the location to @Personal and tag the task with '_action'. Cool!

Projects list manipulation.
Handling lists of projects is a little more involved, and I'm merely piloting this process at the moment, so time will tell if it can be deemed effective. Say in the @P_p smart list, one would create tasks to represent projects. Those projects should automatically get tagged with '_project' and have the appropriate context (location) set. Once the 'title' task is created, add a unique tag to represent that project. For instance, a new project could be called 'Clear out the garage'. Tag that project description task with 'pp_clear_garage' or similar. The pp at the beginning of the tag distinguishes it as a project in the @Personal context. A work project would be prefixed with 'pw_' and so on. This ensures that all project tags are grouped together in the tag cloud, both by the fact that they're projects and further by context. This tag provides the link between the project name and its constituent tasks. If a project has a due date, set it here along with an estimated time if you so desire.

Now when we wish to define a task or two for that project, click on that project's tag to get a quick list of all tasks with that tag (which to start with will consist only of the title task). Now you can happily add tasks which will be auto-tagged with the project's unique tag. Unfortunately, you will need to define the context (i.e. location:@Personal) and task type (i.e. tag:_action) yourself. You could get around this by creating smart lists for each project (i.e. list:GTD AND location:@Personal AND tag:pp_clear_garage AND tag:_action) but in my opinion this would be to much work to keep on top of.

A quick list for a project's tag will list the project title task as well as its actions. If you have a due date set for the project title it will likely be lurking at the bottom of the list in this view. If you don't usually use priorites (I don't) then I recommend setting a priority to the title task so it will always appear at the top of the list and provide a header of sorts. This also ensures that a list of projects stands out, reinforcing the idea that this kind of list is distinct to the other list types in a GTD system.

So, when it comes to reviewing our projects, how can we see at a glance that all our projects have next actions defined? Simple - hover your mouse over the project tags in the cloud to get the task count tooltip for each project. If a tag's tooltip shows '1 task' then it has no actions defined (it contains the title task only), more than that indicates an active project, which is what we want for each project if at all possible.

Tags summary
The tag cloud should feature these tags in this order:
Contexts (locations): @Errands, @Personal, @Work etc.
Task types: _action, _project, _someday, _waiting
(gtd, inbox): master lists
Project tags: pp_clear_garage, pw_write_program, etc.
(sent): master list
Wishlist categories: w_photography, w_gadgets, etc.
(wishlist): master list

Now that I've finished procrastinating by creating this post rather than doing some real work, it's time to see if this system will actually work for me! Hope it's helpful to all you GTD-loving milkers out there! Of course, I'm open to further suggestions.

Posted 7 years ago

whibs says:

Just thought of another GTD audit list - to check for any tasks that may be tagged but not with any of the GTD list types (zTag might miss these):

Name: zTagTyp
Search string: list:GTD AND (NOT tag:_action) AND (NOT tag:_project) AND (NOT tag:_someday) AND (NOT tag:_waiting)

Posted 7 years ago

ascaaear says:

My RTM is organized like this!

I actually dont use the time aspect so much. I only use RTM to make lists of what to do or other things I need to remember.

I have regular list with, Inbox (default), Books, Movie-TV, Redecorate bath, Need, Economy!

Inbox: keeps everything
Books: books I want to red
Movie-TV: films or tv series I want to see
Redecorate bath: a temporarily list of things I need to buy and do when redoing my bath
Need: Things I need to buy or want...
Economy: list of money I have borrowed from others

Of SmartLists I have: Shopping list, Buy, Wish list Me, Wish list Wife, Russia, Work

Shopping list: All items with tag:shopping from list:need. Things like food etc.
Buy: All items with tag:buy from list:need which are things that are not urgent, but someday need
Wish list Me: Items with tag: lars from list:need. If someone want to know what I want for christmas, then I just print out this one!
Wish list Wife: Items with tag: wife from list:need. Same as above.
Russia: Items with tag:russia. Things I need to buy or remember when going to Russia.
Work: Things I need to remember about my jobs


Posted 6 years ago

jamexcel Pro says:

great tips! thanks...

Posted 1 year ago

adamt8 says:

New to RTM. Believe it or not, just trying to organize repeating grocery list for a large family with smart phones. We think we can cut our shopping time in half. :)

Posted 1 year ago

echarles Pro says:

Zombie thread rises from the grave! But why not see how everyone is using RTM now in 2013?

I tend to go back and forth a bit, sometimes deciding I want everything on one big list, other times wanting a list for every project. At the minute I'm sort of in the middle.

I'm a writer, with a day job. I tend to have several writing projects going on at any one time, in different stages. RTM not only keeps me on track with them, it remembers all the other boring chores and errands I have to do, so I don't have to think about them and can get on with thinking about writing stuff instead.

My lists:
Inbox. I don't keep stuff in here. And I rarely mail tasks in. I tend to use it more as a temporary working area, especially if I have several tasks to set up, and especially if they all have the same attributes. I'd just type in the task names to Smart Add, hit enter, type the next one, etc. Then when I've done them all, go and apply due dates, tags, etc en mass and finally move them to the list they belong on.

Work - For day job stuff.

Writing - all writing tasks go in here. This list might contain quite a few tasks that don't have due dates yet, for tasks to do later. I distinguish between projects using tags #proj-name, so I can do a search on everything for that one when I need to. Lots of writing tasks take many days to complete, so they will often have repeats on them. Like drafting a novel, the task will have a daily repeat on it until I get to the end. The day I finish I take the repeat off the task and tick it as complete for that day.

Promo - all tasks that could be classed as that promotion stuff we writers have to do. Blogging mostly in here. All tasks in here will likely be dated. Some will be repeating, like for my weekly blog post, but many will be one offs.

Goals - My goals for the year, tagged #yearly and with a due date of the end of the year and for this month tagged #monthly, with a due date of the end of the month.

Misc - anything else, chores, errands, bookings, weekly and monthly reviews, anything that doesn't fit on any other lists basically. Pretty much everything on here would be dated and many would be recurring tasks.

I also have a couple of what I think of a reusable lists, which are usually archived. For instance there's tasks for when I have a book release. I have to do those same tasks each time. So I unarchive the list, tick them off as I do them, then once they are all done for that release, I uncomplete the tasks and archive the list again for next time. Also have ones for packing for travelling, and for Christmas gifts and cards.

Locations, I use 4, which are quite generalised. @home @work @local @citycentre. The vast majority of my tasks will be done in those places. (The work one also covers the local area around where I work.)

Smartlists:
All my smart lists are date based. I have:
Today - due:today or dueBefore:today
Tomorrow - due:tomorrow
Today and Tomorrow due:today or dueBefore:today or due:tomorrow
(I use that list for the gadget in Gmail and for a widget on my tablet.)
Week ahead - dueWithin:"8 days of today" and not due:Today and not list:work
Week ahead is one I use specifically for when I do my weekly review, which is primarily about my writing progress. So I want to see what's ahead for the next week (excluding today and excluding day job stuff.)

Posted 1 year ago

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