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[Orgmode] GTD methodology

From: Joshua Gilliland
Subject: [Orgmode] GTD methodology
Date: Wed, 23 May 2007 12:58:59 +0800

Hi, everyone. After my email a couple of weeks ago asking about Windows binaries with org-mode pre-configured, one of the members of the list asked me to describe how I use org-mode to do GTD. It's been a while since the request, but I haven't been able to get around to writing this until now. I hope that the GTD-ers on the list will find it useful, although I should mention that despite the fact that I have been practicing GTD off-and-on for almost a year and a half, I am still very bad at it. As such, some of my methods might not be very "pure" GTD, so to speak.

I am more or less an adherent of the one-big-file method of GTD, although I do keep separate someday/maybe and inbox files. Basically, I use a combination of TODO status and tags to organize my GTD in org-mode. For level one I have either projects or broad categories (which are not projects in and of themselves but rather umbrella categories under which many projects fit). Projects get a :PROJECT: tag, while categories get no tag. I have my most important categories and projects at the top of my document, with everything else organized alphabetically.

Within each project, I keep tasks listed in the order in which they must be completed. I tend to be a fairly disorganized thinker, so this order (and the tasks themselves) change a lot. Each task is given a tag, which identifies its context. For tasks that I can complete in more than one context, I assign multiple tags. I used to use an @anywhere task, but I have more or less abandoned it in favor of this method.

I usually avoid tagging the later tasks in a particular project so as to not clog up my context lists with tasks that I can't accomplish yet. My general rule of thumb is that I do not tag a task with a context until it is actionable.

I tend to be pretty weak at the concept of the first action; many of my projects have more than one action that can feasibly be accomplished right now. Because of this, I tend to have contexts (i.e. tags) assigned to more than one task in most of my projects.

I use TODO status mainly for the nice feeling of being able to check something off when I have finished, in addition to being able to archive my completed tasks along with their contexts. I mainly use TODO and DONE (I also have turned on logging so I know when I completed a certain task). I also have WAIT, LATER, MAYBE, SOMEDAY, and CANCELED statuses, although I don't really use them and I think I'm going to get rid of some if not all of them (I might just keep MAYBE). I used to have a NEXT status as well, but since I couldn't figure out a way to filter by both context and NEXT status, I got rid of NEXT altogether.

To get context lists, I usually use C-c \, since I know what most of my contexts are. I also use the agenda command, and have assigned agenda commands to all of my contexts, so that way I can occasionally look at a list of my contexts to see if I'm forgetting about one (as I said, I'm not very good at GTD).

During my weekly review, one of the things I do is move all someday/ maybe's to my someday/maybe file so as to keep things as clean as possible in my GTD file. My someday/maybe file is an org file so that I can keep it organized and yank things directly from my gtd.org into it. My inbox is a plain text file so that I can add to it through the magic of Quicksilver's "append" action (I'm sure many of the other Mac users on the list know and love "append text..." as much as I do).

That is basically my GTD methodology in a (very large) nutshell. Hope it was useful. I have put a small sample org tree below to make up for my poor abilities of description. Again, I apologize for the length of this email. Brevity has never been a strength of mine.


------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------
#+STARTUP: logging

* Email org-mode mailing list                   :PROJECT:
** DONE Write email to org-mode mailing list    :COMPUTER:
   CLOSED: [2007-05-23 Wed 12:27]

* Home
** Clean apartment                              :PROJECT:
*** TODO Buy broom                              :ERRANDS:
*** TODO Clean windows                          :HOME:
*** TODO Sweep floor
** Do laundry                                   :PROJECT:
*** TODO Buy washing machine                    :ERRANDS:
*** TODO Throw out clothes that are beyond hope :HOME:
*** TODO Wash clothes
------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------

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