Discuss all things Remember The Milk.

My GTD setup

matthiask82 says:

I have been using RTM for maybe half a year now and I've changed the way I worked with it several times, but finally I have settled on a system based on GTD that works *really* well for me. I might need to make a few adjustments in the future, but I expect the basic setup to remain unless RTM introduces more flexible searches.

Quick summary for eager people:
One list (Inbox), only smart lists, locations used for contexts, specific location used for project identifier, tags used for projects, tags used for someday and waitingfor. "Inbox" is defined as any task with no location.

In more detail:
I never felt comfortable with having several lists, so I decided to go with an approach where I place every task in the Inbox, and then I apply smart lists on this list.

These are all my smart lists, with query

@Work: location:Work and (due:never or dueBefore:tomorrow) and not tag:waitingfor and not tag:someday
@Errand: location:Errand and (due:never or dueBefore:tomorrow) and not tag:waitingfor and not tag:someday
@Personal: location:Personal and (due:never or dueBefore:tomorrow) and not tag:waitingfor and not tag:someday

Calendar (Today): dueBefore:tomorrow
Calendar (This Week): dueWithin:"1 week of today"
Open Loops: isLocated:false
Projects: location:Project
Someday: tag:someday
Waiting For: tag:waitingfor

I use @Work for items I would do at work @Errand for things when on the move and @Personal is a more general thing for when at home, have a few minutes to spare etc. I previously tried to have more contexts than these, but in the end, for me, the complexity wasn't worth it and I settled for these.

I use tags to specify a task as "someday" and "waitingfor". These are then not shown in the contexts' next actions. I first used locations for these markers as well, but I didn't like it as I wanted to preserve the original context (say Work) when putting something as someday. With tags I can as a task can have several tags.

For each project, I create a task with a descriptive name, give it a suitable unique tag and place it in the Project location. The purpose of this task is two-fold. One, it makes it easy for me to create a "Project list", and two, it makes sure the project tag is always visible in the tag cloud to the right. By clicking on the tag in the cloud, I get a nice view of all tasks, include someday, waiting for etc.

For my weekly review, I check all projects and make sure a next action is defined. In a perfect world, I would like a project to show up in "Open Loops" if there are no next actions, but such query is impossible to define in RTM with this setup. If I could create a query like "show tasks having tag x and there are only 1 task with that tag uncompleted" I could do it, like "tagCount:"xxx = 1".

I have toyed with using priorities in RTM to represent next action, waiting for, someday and so on, but never felt comfortable with it. Instead, I now use them to make a quick 'n dirty ordering in each context. For example, I work as a developer, so I tend to give all @Work tasks that are bugs priority 1 to make sure they are placed at the top.

Other than that, it all seems to work out nicely. I work on tasks depending on context. I often forward mails to my RTM-mail and input quick tasks descriptions with no tags and location that I then later process from Open Loops.

Questions, comments?
Posted at 4:09pm on November 3, 2010
jonsatriani says:
This is an almost identical setup to the one I have, so naturally I think it's excellent :P

The one big difference I have is that I have two lists: Inbox and Filed. This is because I've trained certain people (like my partner and my boss) to email tasks to RTM when they're giving me actions.

The Smart Add features work quite well but I wouldn't expect people to perfectly format their email titles to suit my own GTD needs. So my Inbox remains in GTD-fashion as a place for incoming junk that hasn't yet been dealt with.

My own RTM email signature contains "S: filed -end-" because I know I'll always use the correct syntax, but any others that might be badly sorted are caught by my Inbox.

Also I use priorities to assign next action, as the keyboard shortcuts are very intuitive when looking at a project and deciding how to order them - not too dissimilar from your "quick and dirty" approach, but I only ever have one Priority 1 task per project. In combination with due dates this seems to work for me.

I think a lot of people will benefit from your clear explanation of what I think is a great GTD setup - thanks for writing it!
Posted 10 years ago
(closed account) says:
Looks like a good setup to me. I now have a setup with many lists personal and work related. This does not work for me that well. Seems I have not enough overview this way.

Going to try this one. Have you guys ideas using Evernote combining with this setup?
Posted 10 years ago
malisabright says:
Thanks. I've been toying with RTM (again) lately and am trying to decide how to set things up. I came to the forum to look for 'advice' on using multiple/specific lists vs. just using tags. Both of the first two posts are helpful to me.

I'm migrating from a GTD system without tags and I think tags are the most useful aspect for me. But the redundancy that having to think about which list and what tags had me stuck in a loop.

Thanks again for unsticking least for now. ;)
Posted 10 years ago
the.jalal says:
Some interesting ideas, I'm off to play with them. Especially using Locations for projects (even if they don't have a specific location) gives an extra level of layout.
Thanks for the ideas.
Posted 10 years ago
malisabright says:
I'm slowly developing my system. Best new find--when I search on a tag (from the tag cloud, which I love) and I'm looking at a project and think of a missing task, when I enter it from that screen, it automatically inherits that tag. Nice.
Posted 10 years ago
jenbertotti says:

Thank you SO MUCH for this post! I have been hunting for months for a system for GTD w/ RTM and the different ideas were daunting! I could never remember to add certain tags, or it just seemed to overwhelming. This is simple and perfect for me. GREAT post!
Posted 8 years ago
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