Discuss all things Remember The Milk.

Auto-Sort & Simply Task Management with a Symbol Prefix

(closed account) says:
I've had a long-standing tradition of organizing my tasks with symbols, and I've found that using those symbols in RTM can really simplify sorting and task entry.

This system allows me to…
• use the Inbox for every single task
• create Smart Lists to automatically divide tasks into tabs
• search by symbols
• create a Smart List for "Today's Tasks" and sort by title, organizing them by symbol/category within that list.
• use the Milk the Cow "Skim" widget (or any RTM application) to enter (and categorize) tasks in literarily seconds.

For instance, I use the prefix [$] for financial tasks:
[$] Pay Electric Bill
[$] Pay Car Loan

…and a Smart List that searches for "[$]" to automatically pull the financial tasks into their own tab. I have just one task list (the Inbox), and the rest are Smart Lists.

Here's an example list of symbols:
[$] -- Financial Tasks
[¢] -- Groceries to Buy
[+] -- Other Stuff to Buy
[..] -- Repeating Tasks
[=] -- Office Tasks
[∞] -- TV to Watch
[#] -- Miscellaneous Projects

Your keyboard is full of hidden symbols that translate into RTM, and it's fun to play around with their meaning. This system really works for me, and it's infinitely flexible (assuming you can remember all of the symbols you've assigned. :)
Posted at 4:13pm on August 11, 2009
mehardin says:
Might I suggest another list? Create a list called "key" and keep your symbols in it with their definitions, just like you did above. No actual tasks in that list. I'm assuming you did the groceries and TV symbols using ALT codes? I wouldn't want to have to remember those. I'd have to choose symbols that were already available.

Why do you bracket the symbols? doesn't that just add 2 keystrokes to every task entry?
Posted 10 years ago
(closed account) says:
So far, I haven't had any trouble remembering the key combos for the trickier symbols. I guess I prefer to use the most appropriate symbol in each case, which requires using some of the hidden ones.

The bracketing allows me to visually separate the symbols from the task. Basically, I think it looks cleaner. I type the brackets so often now that I don't even think about it.
Posted 10 years ago
ghenty says:
Great idea, Joe, I like how, with your system, all the lists are Smart lists and you don't have to keep track of putting them in the right lists.

Mehardin, I'm just curious (and more than a little clueless) what do you mean "No actual tasks in that list"?
Posted 10 years ago
mehardin says:
I meant that the list would just be a placeholder for his symbol key. I was responding to his comment "assuming you can remember all the symbols you've assigned". It would just be a list that shows each symbol, with a description of what that symbol represents. There wouldn't be anything in the list he needed to do.
Posted 10 years ago
mehardin says:
Also, he's comfortable remembering all those ALT codes for symbols like [¢]. for groceries. That would overtax my tiny brain. But if you are going to use the brackets anyway, I'd use something like [G] for groceries. No reason a letter can't be a symbol if you are bracketing it.
Posted 10 years ago
ghenty says:
Oh I see, that's pretty smart! : )

I have to say you're right about the letters being better symbols. Not everyone can remember the ALT codes, and if you're on a mobile phone you might not have those characters available to you at all.
Posted 10 years ago
(closed account) says:
Mobile-friendly symbols are a good consideration. I don't have an iPhone or BlackBerry, but if I did, I would have to change my symbols to a more mobile-friendly set.

Either way, the symbols are entirely up to your needs. It's infinitely flexible.
Posted 10 years ago
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