Updated: 9/4/2006; 11:20:03 PM.


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  Tuesday, August 01, 2006

  GTD tools: RememberTheMilk

Recently I discovered a couple of tools that made my "organising myself" work much easier. Thought it could be worth sharing.

The first one is Remember the milk, recommended by Aldo

Purpose: web-based task management

  • add and check-out tasks
  • organise tasks in groups (called lists)
  • share tasks with other users
  • set-up and retrieve by: list, priority, due date, tag and lots of other parameters
  • set-up notifications (by email, IM, SMS), calendar integration, RSS

Why I like it:

I was never able to get along with a computer-based task management system. What actually worked for me was a list of paper on my desk where I'd add tasks big and small as soon as they come to my mind, put colored dots for those most important, cross as done and rewrite the list as soon as I needed space or too much was crossed. It wasn't the optimal solution: too much work to rewrite the whole thing and no easy way to remember those personal tasks in the list that I actually had to do at home. When going away from my desk for work I'd write a little post-it with "active to-dos" and stick it to the folder with "active paper" that I usually have with me anyway.

Now I have one place with all my tasks (including: "select and put online wedding photos" ;) that I can access when I need, update easily and event print. I don't use any of the notifications, instead I look in the list at the beginning of the day, at the moments when I'm deciding what to do next and before I go shopping.

Caveats - it fits my lifestyle: no paper agenda (because I'll forget it anyway), online access at home and at work, not that much time offline and being happy with not having access to my task list 100% time.

There are a few tricks that make life easier (and pretty annoying without them)

  • Keyboard shortcuts: the most important is 'm' for switching on/off editing multiple tasks, learning others helps as well (it says Learn keyboard shortcuts and it actually important since life is miserable with lots of clicking if you are not using them)
  • Breaking tasks into separate lists (e.g. 'personal' and 'work' or more detailed) helps to keep a group-level overview, but then you miss higher-level picture. I was missing two lists: all active tasks and all "due today or overdue" tasks. Both could be created by smart lists:
    • all active tasks - search for status:incomplete and then save the search results
    • all "to do now" tasks - dueBefore:today OR due:today and then save the search results (thanks to Emily from the project team for suggesting in email)

Things that don't make me happy

  • occasional glitches (forgivable: free beta product that works most of the times)
  • Dutch interface unless I login and it retrieves my priorities for English (I always find it annoying when whatever web-site assumes my language given my IP-address and doesn't have an option to change it easily)

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© Copyright 2002-2006 Lilia Efimova.

This weblog is my learning diary. Sometimes I write about things related to my work, but the views expressed here are personal and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer.

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