I recently came across another task/list management web application called Gubb. Now, as you all know, I’m a hardcore Remember The Milk fan. I’ve written extensively about it’s Smart Lists and Tags, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to ignore a good thing when I see it. Also, it seems there are some core features lacking in Remember The Milk, that are pretty important to some people. Here are a few features that Gubb has that are missing from RTM:
I remember when I first started trying to get organized years ago. I started off with a Handspring Visor and then moved up to a Palm III. I also remember struggling with prioritizing my tasks. Should I clean the bathroom first, or shave the dog? Which was more important? I think I spent more time fiddling with the priority numbers than actually completing the tasks.
Getting Things Done Doesn’t Prioritize Tasks
Apparently, Getting Things Done (GTD) does not bother with task priorities and Donald over at Life Optimizer gives a great explanation as to why (read the full story here). I never actually thought about this until I saw his post, but it raises another question:
What should you do with the priority settings in your task-management software?
The obvious solution to me was to use the priorities to organize my Projects. Let’s take a look at a simple project to upgrade wordpress (just an ex., get the official steps here):
- Make Backups
- Deactivate Plugins
- Upload New Files
- Upgrade Database
In this example, we see the Priority for each task will just correspond to the order in which it should be completed. Each task directly depends on the one before it.
It also just so happens that Remember The Milk has exactly 4 priorities to chose from. The simplest way to set a priority for a task is to click the task to highlight it and press a number (1 thru 4). This will set the tasks priority and add an indicator. Priority if 4 is the default, so you see no indicator.
What if your Project has more than 4 steps?
Since each task in the project depends on the one before it, you would simply re-prioritize (or re-number) the project each time you complete a task or each time you finish all tasks you have already prioritized.
What if I can do groups of tasks simultaneously?
This is great! Just give these tasks the same priority. Once you hit a task that depends on one or all of them, move up to the next priority.
- Thing A
- Thing B
- Thing AB
- Thing C
There is no need to agonize over priorities on your task list. The only time priority really matters is within a Project and, since we define a project as a sequence of tasks, setting prorities should be a no-brainer. If you would like to implement priorities into your Remember The Milk usage, keep in mind that you can search for tasks with a specific priority (ie. search for “priority:1” to find first priority tasks). You could even use this knowledge to get rid of the “-next” tag. Just give your Next Actions a priority of 1 and search on that.
How do you prioritize your tasks? Can you think of another way to use priorities to help get things done? Leave a comment.
You To Do list may be a lot more powerful than you think. Here are a few ideas that may get your imagination working as to how you can harness the full power of one of the most basic organizational tools. Feel free to share any ideas you have in the comments section.
Tracking things you have lent or borrowed is quite useful. You can apply the same ideas from my Super Charging Remember The Milk series. For example, if Bill borrowed your iPhone, then you could create a task named “My iPhone” and give it tags like “-waiting, @lent, bill, iphone.”
In this case, I have set the context of this item to “lent” by preceding it with the “@” symbol. This allows me to create a Smart List later, to organize all the things I have “lent.” You will also notice that I have tagged the item Bill’s name so that I know who to harass when I start missing my iPhone. You can do the same thing for items you have borrowed.
I have set up my desktop so that I can add items to Remember The Milk in the blink of an eye. Not only does this make sure that I don’t miss anything I need to do, but it also allows me to quickly collect any random ideas I get for content. I might be reading a blog post over on SheGeeks and get an idea for a new song. Or I could just be poking around on FriendFeed and get an idea for an awesome blog post.
Either way it goes, I can stick these things into Remember The Milk and flesh them out later. For instance, I might tag a new song idea with “-next, @studio, metal.”
One of the best things you can do to increase your value as a person is to read. This will help your success in life immensely. People will be more willing to see you as a leader if you have a little more knowledge than they do. I sometimes add books others recommend to my reading list in Remember The Milk so that I can remember to borrow or buy them at some point.
You To Do list can be of much more use to you than simply checking off tasks. There are things that are not really actionable tasks, but are not really projects either. Also, some things you may want to stick on the Someday/Maybe side of things, might do better to have their own category. Experiment and see what works for you.
Do you store things on your To Do list that some might say shouldn’t be there? Do you have ideas about extending your To Do list that I haven’t covered? Did you like this article? Leave a comment. I would love to hear about it.
In a recent post, we talked about 6 Ways to Add A Task to Remember The Milk. While the methods discussed were varied and useful, I was not satisfied with any of them. This post will show you another quick method to handle this.
I have very simple criteria for being able to add tasks to my ToDo list:
- It must be quick
- It must not disturb my current work flow
- It must be reliable
I had almost satisfied all of these using the solution involving Launchy, Curl, and Twitter. Launchy is probably the fastest desktop launcher available for Windows. So the procedure went like this:
- Launchy pops up instantly when I hit ALT+Space
- I type in “rtm<TAB>Task Description<ENTER>” (rtm is just a batch file in my path)
- The task is added to my Remember The Milk Inbox list via Twitter
If we review the last item on my list of criteria, we see that our posting method needs to be reliable. Well, Twitter shouldn’t even be in the same sentence. I have actually been burned before using this setup, as you can read about in my post How Twitter Keeps Me from Getting Things Done.
So, how do we make it better? I had to find a way to get Twitter out of the picture. If you recall, You can add tasks to Remember The Milk via email. All I needed was a way to shoot off an email to RTM from within Launchy. Problem solved, right? Well…not really. GMail apparently makes this slightly more complicated.
This is about to get pretty technical, but I will try to break it down as simple as I can. If I don’t do a good job, please leave a comment and I will be happy to help 🙂
Download, Install, and Configure “Stunnel”
We need Stunnel so that we can communicate with the Gmail server securely. From the website:
Stunnel is a program that allows you to encrypt arbitrary TCP connections inside SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) available on both Unix and Windows.
So, here is what we need to do:
- Download Stunnel from the Binaries Page. The version I used is 4.25 (direct download link)
- Run the installer and hit “Close” once complete
- Now, edit C:\Program Files\stunnel\stunnel.conf
- Replace the “Service Options” section with the following:
accept = 127.0.0.1:1099
connect = smtp.gmail.com:465
accept = 127.0.0.1:1109
connect = pop.gmail.com:995
- From the same directory, run the command “stunnel -install”
- Then run the command “net start stunnel”
Download, Install, and Configure “Blat”
We need Blat so that we can send email right from the command line.
Blat is a Win32 command line utility that sends eMail using SMTP or post to usenet using NNTP.
- Get Blat from here: http://www.blat.net/
- Open the archive and stick “blat.exe” into C:\Windows\System32\ or somewhere else in your path
- Run the command: blat -install smtp.gmail.com firstname.lastname@example.org
You already have Launchy, right? If not, you are probably not working very efficiently, you are on a MAC, or both. Go ahead and fire it up now.
- Open Launchy’s Options dialog (click the gear), go to Plugins and click Runner.
- Hit the “+” button to add a new command
- Enter something nifty for the Name (“rtm”, maybe?)
- In the Program field, Enter the path to the Blat executable: C:\Windows\System32\blat.exe
- In the Arguments field, Enter the following:
– -body ” ” -subject “$$” -to [Your unique RTM Email Address] -u [Gmail Username] -pw [Gmail Password] -f [Your Gmail Address] -server 127.0.0.1:1099
- Hit “Ok,” we’re done here
Make sure you include the preceding “-” and the space between the quotes for the body argument. To find your unique Remember The Milk email address, login to RTM and go to Settings->Info. You want the Inbox Email Address.
Now, you can hit ALT+Space (or whatever key you have it set to), type “rtm<TAB>task<ENTER>” and you have just added a task to Remember The Milk without even breaking stride.
Being able to quickly dump tasks/ideas out of your head and into your organization system of choice is pretty important. Without doing this, you will never get anything done because you won’t ever know what to do.
More often than not, you are going to be in the middle of something when an idea strikes you for something else that you need to capture. As we all know, if you get interrupted, it takes about 10 minutes or so to find your place and get back into the groove.
This is why I have been so anal about this specific facet of my system. I don’t believe there is a faster way, short of direct brain-to-computer communication, to capture your thoughts to your to-do list.
How do you make sure you can capture things at all times? Do you have a better method than me? I’d like to hear about it. Leave me a comment.
One important thing that will ultimately hold your GTD system together and make it work for you has to be accessibility. In the first and second installment of this series, we discussed how to set up Remember The Milk to handle most of your GTD needs. We also talked about using SMS to access RTM. Here are 6 more ways to access your shiny new system.
This post is the first in a series on Super-Charging Remember The Milk including:
When you signed up for Remember The Milk, you received a special unique email address. You can find this address in your confirmation email or on the RTM site in Settings->Info. Just shoot RTM an email at the address provided with your new task as the subject. The body can be empty, or you can use any of the following (quoted from the RTM site):
Priority: 1 or P: 1
Due: Monday at 9am or D: Monday at 9am
Repeat: Every Week or R: Every Week
Estimate: 2 hours or E: 2 hours
Tags: report coffee or S: report coffee
Location: Home or O: Home
URL: http://www.rememberthemilk.com/ or U: http://www.rememberthemilk.com/
By default, your task will appear in your Inbox. If you want the task to appear in a different list, you can do so with the following:
List: Work or L: Work
Optionally, if you’re unable to specify the subject of your email, you can use the following to specify the task name:
Task: Weekly work meeting or T: Weekly work meeting
Notes can be included at the bottom of the email, but need to be separated with ‘—‘ (three hyphens).
If your email automatically contains a signature or disclaimer that you’d like to prevent being converted into a note, you can include ‘-end-‘ on a line by itself, and everything after this line will be ignored.
2. Instant Messenger
- Add one of these to your buddy list:
- Send it any random message and it will create an account for you and send you back a menu
- Choose the menu option for My Accounts (should be number 4) and follow the link you receive
- Add the Remember The Milk widget and send ‘M’ to your IMified buddy
- You should see a new option for your newly added RTM widget. Have fun 🙂
3. Desktop Launcher
This happens to be my favorite because it doesn’t matter what I’m doing, I can always hit a key combo and immediately add something to RTM. Doing things this way also helps you stay focused because you don’t have to really think about it.
I use a launcher called…well, Launchy. It’s fast and flexible. This particular solution requires that you have RTM set up with Twitter. Go back here if you missed it. Here is how you make Launchy work with Remember The Milk:
- Download and install Launchy
- Download and install Curl
- Download this ZIP and extract it to C:\Program Files\Launchy\Utilities
- Edit the file “rtm.bat” and put in your Twitter username and password
Are you on a MAC?
Are you on Linux?
Check out this Deskbar Applet.
4. Quick Add
5. Gmail Plugin
Do you live in Gmail? Go get the Gmail Plugin and integrate it with Remember The Milk.
6. Google Calendar
Put your tasks right on your calendar with This Plugin. Once you add it, just click one of the blue check marks to see what you should be doing.
I use a combination of these at any given time. Primarily, I stick with 3, 5 and 6. Also, there are way more than 6 methods for accessing Remember The Milk. You can find out more information on their website.