Discuss all things Remember The Milk.

A Simple Technique For Multi-Part Tasks (and for "GTD lite")

hyphenate says:

I just use a short title with a letter, then the subtask, like this:

bike A - remove flat innertube from bike
bike B - buy new innertube
bike C - install & inflate new innertube
bike D - clean & lube power train & tighten cables

They'll tend to group together, and I just do the first one first.


I use a simplified version of GTD, though I sometimes find the micro-managing involved in GTD a little overwhelming.

Using the GTD definition that "any task that takes more than one action to complete is a project", I have a "Projects" list. And about four lists for major projects and gigs. So my lists look like this:

Inbox (anything that I just jotted down)
Project A (some major project, like a book or an ongoing job)
Project B (etcetera. the actual name though, not "project B")
Next actions (single tasks that aren't part of a major project)
Projects (multi-part tasks that aren't part of a major project)

I use a tag called "na" for the next action in any multi-part task.

Simple so far, right? Okay, then I have two smartlists.

The Hotlist: (list:"Next actions" OR priority:1 OR tag:na) AND (due:today OR due:tomorrow OR isRepeating:false)
This gives me the equivalent of a GTD next actions list: it's everything on my Next Actions list, plus everything that I've either tagged Priority One or slapped an "na" tag on. The second half of the logic omits any regularly repeating task unless it happens to be due today or tomorrow.

The Coldlist: NOT((list:"Next actions" OR priority:1 OR tag:na))
This gives me everything else, including my someday/maybes.

I also have locations (home, computer, phone, errand) if I want them. I mostly work at home, but it's still helpful. I use the Hotlist anytime I'm looking for something to do. I try to read through the Hotlist and the Coldlist once a week, if only to ask myself of each item "do I still want to do that?"

One other multi-part task trick: if I'm not sure of the later steps, then the last step on my list will be something like "[projectname] F - drop project or make plan to complete it". So there's a mechanism in place to say "Okay, I spent some time on this, by now I'll know what it looks like, this is the point in the process where I either make a more detailed plan or I decide that it's something I don't want to follow through."

All of this is designed to make it as quick and simple as possible. Hope this helps!
Posted at 4:46am on July 9, 2012
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