My GTD setup in RTM

It’s come up a few times: “How do you use RTM?” “What do your lists/Smart Lists look like?”

I cov­ered them briefly on RTM’s blog but they’ve changed a bit since then, and I’d like to flesh them out a bit more.1

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:

RTM list tabs

As you can see, I only have two prop­er lists2: Mine and Shared. The only rea­son I have two is to sep­a­rate tasks that are shared with Dean­na. (I’ve shared that list with her.)

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.

Tag CloudLast­ly, my Tag Cloud shows how my tags/lists are being used. It should be no sur­prise that a lot of my tasks are things for me to do on the inter­net. :)

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.

  1. First­ly, you should read my notes on GTD; if you don’t under­stand that, my method­ol­o­gy will make less sense. I’m not going to reex­plain it here. []
  2. Inbox and Sent are lists RTM cre­ates []

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