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My GTD Setup Using RTM

hntopper1 says:
Hello, I've been a Pro User now for about a year and wanted to share with everyone how I've set up my GTD methodology within RTM.

A couple of things to note about my approach to GTD... I am a user of Start Dates, and having a Start Date field is one of the main reasons I'm a RTM user as most other apps out there only have Due Date. For me, there are a lot of things that I have to do, but I can't start them until a specific date in the future. Hence, I use the Start Date field to capture the date I want to "start" working on them. Until that date, I don't want to see the action on my Next Actions list. So as you will see below with my set up, Start Date (or Start After Today) is a key query item for my set up.

Second note, I use a "Focus" smartlist. This smartlist is the list that I work from 95% of my day. The Focus smartlist is a hack that I set up within RTM using the Priority Field. RTM uses 4 levels of Priority (none, 3, 2, and 1 with 1 being the highest priority). So my hack is that Priority Level 1 are those things that I chose to work on today. I then use Priority Level 2 to denote any "important" tasks that I need to keep my eye on, but other than that I don't use the Priority Feature.

I have my lists set up into various groupings and the name of each list begins with the corresponding number below. I sort the Lists alphabetically and the number is used in my SmartLists queries that I will discuss later.

1. Work - lists associated with projects or single actions for my job. A few example would be: 1. Single Actions_Work; 1. Project ABC; 1. Project XYZ
2. Personal - lists associated with projects or single actions for my personal family life. A few examples would be: 2. Single Actions_Personal; 2. Finances; 2. Rental Property
3. Routines - those things that happen routinely either everyday (take vitamins), every week (weekly review), every month (pay bills), or annually (birthdays, etc).
4. Agendas - I have a list here for every person in my life that I interact with on a regular basis and put actions here regarding things that I need to speak to them about. I pull up "John's" list when having a 1:1 with John and can review all the topics I need to discuss with John. A few examples here would be: 4. John; 4. Kathie; 4. Jenny.
5. Reference Lists - These are not so much as actions items but simple things that I want to remember. They could be TV shows I want to watch at some point, places to eat, or other general reference items. A few examples here would be: 5. To Watch; 5. To Eat; 5. To Read

I use the following tags in my GTD set up: waiting, someday, home, office, phone, and computer. The first two (waiting and someday) reference what "state" the task is in for my GTD setup, and the the last four (home, office, phone, and computer) reference context.

My smartlists are set up to to correspond with the GTD methodology. Along with the default Inbox, I have these smartlists in My Favorites section and go between these Smartlists throughout the day. I have the following Smartlists:

Focus: The query for this smartlist is- priority:1 OR start:today OR dueBefore:today Or due:today . This query allows me to focus on those things that are overdue, start today, due today or those actions that for whatever reason, I've determined need attention today.

Next Actions: The query for this smartlist is - (listContains:1. OR listContains:2. OR list:Inbox) AND (NOT startAfter:today) AND (NOT tag:someday) AND (NOT tag:waiting) - Note: For my next actions list, I only want to see actionable tasks. So using the first part of this query, limits which lists to pull from. I'm only pulling from 1. Work lists, 2. Personal Lists, or my Inbox). All the tasks that are in the other lists (Routines, Reference, Agendas) I do not consider for the purposes of my Next Actions lists. Routines will pop up on my Focus list either when they need to "start" or when they are "due". Agenda items are only used when meeting with someone either in person or virtually. And Reference items are simply that, for Reference. The second part of the query is where the "magic" happens in my opinion. By limiting the query to only those tasks that do not start after today, I'm only seeing those tasks that are "actionable" right now. And the magic part happens by way of a task's start date comes to pass, the task will automatically appear on the Next Actions list. I call this "magic" as though I don't have to constantly be moving actions from one list to another, or changing tags like some other people's set up. Or a set up that is required with a system that doesn't offer Start Dates. It's fully "automatic".

Scheduled: The query for this smartlist is - Startafter:today Note: This goes back to my introductory statement on how I use Start Date. To me, a scheduled task is one that can't start until sometime in the future, not one that is due sometime in the future. If a task that has a due date, but not a start date, will be on my next actions list with it's corresponding due date. A task with a start date (regardless of due date) goes on my Scheduled smart list. And as stated above, when the start date comes and passes, it will automatically move from scheduled to Next Actions smartlist by the nature of the query.

Waiting: The query for this smartlist is - tag:waiting . This is self evident, but anything that I delegate to someone else, I tag with "waiting" and then in the notes section of the task, I add the person's name. I add this note as the note is date stamped, and allows me to do two things: see when I delegated it, and to whom I've delegated it to.

Someday: The query for this smartlist is - tag:someday . Again, this one is self evident, but these tasks are ones that I will only get to when I have the time. So these get the someday tag.

Process Flow

So when I add tasks to my system they usually get added to my Inbox. Then once a day (usually at the end of the day) I'll process my Inbox and assign each task to their respective list, add due dates, tags, and start dates if appropriate.

Each morning when I start, I will review my Next Actions list and determine what actions I want to work on today based on Context, Priorities, and other external factors. Those actions that I want to work on I will turn their priority to Level 1. This usually takes me 5-15 minutes.

I then move to my Focus List. The Focus List will have all the actions that are overdue, due today, start today, and then any next actions (from my previous step) that I have set to Priority Level 1. I then work from this list the rest of the day.

At the end of the week, each Friday, I complete a Weekly Review where I go through each one of my lists and "clean up" or process actions to reflect the state of each project. This takes me about 90 minutes. I have blocked this on my calendar from 7:30 am to 9:00 am accordingly.

I hope this set up helps a few people who are looking for a way to set up their RTM accounts using a GTD methodology.

Thank you.
Posted at 12:08pm on February 8, 2020
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