It’s come up a few times: “How do you use RTM?” “What do your lists/Smart Lists look like?”
Obviously my work has meant that I come in contact with a lot of users’ methods that they share on the forums, and I’ve borrowed a few.
The first method I ever implemented was Doug Ireton’s “classic” post on the RTM blog on implementing GTD.
My setup deviates from that though. The basics are there—I try to minimize use of due dates, I organize my tasks by physical context (home, phone, computer, work, etc.) and I try to make my list capture everything.
However, I try to keep my setup as minimal as possible, a lot more minimal than a full-on GTD setup. The biggest thing is that I don’t really organize my tasks in projects; that’s just not how my work or life revolve.
To show you what my organization looks like, here are my lists on the website:
The rest of my organization is tag-based, and I’ve created a number of Smart Lists (shown in blue) to organize them in ways that I regularly use.
I use my Inbox as a place where my quickly added tasks end up—something I’ll email in, a handful of tasks I think of and want to get in quickly without setting any properties, etc.—but I empty it regularly.
Most of my Smart Lists are pretty obvious (and correspond to a particular tag or two), but a few of them are worth mentioning:
- zzz: This is a Smart List that puts tasks to sleep until a certain time before they’re due. (When I’m looking at my list of tasks to do at home, I don’t care about the bills I have to pay until it’s time to pay them.)
- !Next: (((priority:1 OR priority:2) AND NOT list:zzz) OR (NOT tagContains:@ OR list:Inbox status:incomplete)) AND NOT (list:Target OR list:Grocery)
This is a list of all “next actions”, things I can do presently. Naturally, this will exclude anything I’ve “put to sleep” as mentioned above, and also things that I’ve designated as something that I’ll get to later. It also catches anything I haven’t filed correctly (anything not tagged correctly or in my Inbox) and it will exclude anything in my special Target and grocery lists.
- !Today: ((dueBefore:today OR due:today OR priority:1) AND list:!Next OR (NOT tagContains:@ OR list:Inbox status:incomplete))
This is a Smart List that shows me the things I really have to do today—or should at least try to. On a really good day, I’ll clear this list. It’s everything from the !Next list that’s overdue, due today, or high priority.
Perhaps its obvious, but this is where I spend the bulk of my time, with the occasional jaunt over to my !Next list.
My goal with my organization is to make it quick and easy to use. I can quickly add a task that will show up where I’ll see it (!Next and !Today) and organize all sorts of tasks that won’t show up there.
Let me know if you’d like any more pointers or tips on how I do things.