Posted by Alec The Geek on 28 October 2010
Tickler File – 43FoldersWiki
In the parlance of Getting Things Done, a Tickler File consists of a series of 43 file folders: 12 monthly and 31 daily folders. Items are filed in a folder corresponding to when the item will need to be handled, thus reminding or “tickling” the user about it. These items might be action reminders, bills, receipts, reports, letters, or any number of other things.
I’ve been wanting a 43-folder tickler file for some time, however hunting in the stationary stores was proving fruitless until I discovered that you can buy dividers printed with 1-31 and Jan-Dec. With a cheap A4 binder, some clear plastic pockets and a pad of PostIt notes I have what feels like a very practical tickler file.
Setup: (assume today is the 5/Oct and we will not be using the tickler for today’s items)
- Throw away the cover index sheets on both sets of dividers
- Take the month dividers and place Jan-Sept behind Oct-Dec (so they are in the sequence O-N-D-J-F-M-A-M-J-J-A-S)
- Place the month dividers in the folder
- Take the 1-31 dividers and remove 1-4.
- Place 5-31 in the binder, in front of October
- Place 1-4 between October and November. The dividers are now in the sequence 5-31-O-1-4-N-J-F-M-A-M-J-J-A-S
- Add the empty pockets
Daily use (using 6/Oct as an example):
- Open to today by placing finger on number 6 and opening. Now divider with 6 is on right hand side and back of the divider for 5 is on left. This is today’s space. Process an items that need to go into the action list, calendar etc.
- Now process in-boxes etc. Suppose we locate an item that requires action on 10/Oct: Write a PostIt note (add today’s date) and stick onto back of divider for 9/Oct so that when we open the 10th it will be seen. Is there a piece of paper instead? Use a clear pocket to place it in the correct location.
- Place ATM slips, Credit card slips etc into the pocket for the following Sunday weekly review
- Flip back to the 5th (so the 5th appears on the right, back of the 4th on the left). Process any items.
- Remove divider for 4th and place behind divider for 3rd. Place pocket in back of binder.
- Process as daily and additional review processing (for transaction slips, incubation decisions, project review etc)
- Add pocket and possibly a marker to date for next review ready to receive transaction slips and other material for weekly review
I assume processing for end of month is obvious?
This format is actually quite compact and can even be put in the suitcase when travelling
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Posted by Alec The Geek on 10 July 2010
Twitter / Amanda Palmer: “Habit is the death of vis …
“Habit is the death of vision.” – Earon Davis
A short sound “bite” that is actually less useful than it looks. It should say something a little less pithy like “Poor habits can be the death of many valuable resources like time, energy and growth. Uncritical, habitual, thinking is the death of vision”. However the value of cultivating good habits has been know for millennia
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle
So the trick is adopt good habits and unlearn the bad ones.
How to uncover bad habits:
- Try and be conscious of what you do at all time
- Ask the people around you (family, close colleagues, friends)
- Keep a time log
- Film yourself using your PC with a webcam
- Review your day and consider what could have been better (the rule of threes — note three things that were good and three things that need to be improved)
What are some examples of bad habits:
- Snacking on junk food
- Worrying about other peoples opinions and using what you guessed they thought to be beat yourself up
- Thinking that your state of mind is dependent on others peoples’ actions instead of it being your responsibility
- Being critical of other people and concerned with what they do when it has no direct affect on you
- Dwelling on missed opportunities and thinking “if only….”
- Picking your nose, not covering your mouth when you cough etc.
- Worrying about things without being able to use the thoughts to improve the outcome
Here some some suggestions for good habits:
- Review your habits and look for improvements
- Get enough sleep
- Get up early enough to make full use of the day
- Know what you need to do and get it done (people write books on that, I used their ideas and wrote a post)
- Love and like as many people as you can
- Shower daily, clean your teeth and wear clean clothes
- Set yourself goals to learn or experience new things
- Help others as much as you can
- Ask for help if you need it
- Smile and be courteous – remember most things that people do which annoy you are mistakes or bad habits, not deliberate attempts to upset you, you are not that important.
- Plan and think things through, then don’t dwell on them in a negative spiral of worry
- Look after yourself
How to unlearn bad habits:
I struggle with this, as do most people, and I’m not a psychologist so the advice is a bit mundane
- Elastic band on the wrist – ping yourself when you catch yourself doing it
- Ask friends to remind if they see you doing something
- Substitute. e.g. carry fruit and veg to eat instead of buying chocolate
- Try and make the habit redundant. e.g. Plan projects so that you feel in control and can stop worrying about them
- Remove triggers. If certain places or activities trigger a bad habit then try and avoid them
- Give yourself some credit and don’t do it all at once
- Try and look at the root cause when you catch yourself. e.g. are you procrastinating because you think you won’t succeed? Are you not planning because your system is too complicated to use?
Use tools and techniques that support your good habits e.g. mind mapping tools to help you brainstorm improvements. Make sure they work for you.
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Posted by Alec The Geek on 13 June 2010
Updated June 2011.
For some time I’ve using a paper journal to follow the GSD workflow. I’ve actually been using a thick, 300 page, Miquelrius journal, but I’m finding it too bulky and the extra pages means it lasts long enough for the binding to start to fail so I’ll be going back to Moleskine style when the current book is finished. I’ve also tried Piccadilly notebooks which seem very similar to Moleskine and a lot cheaper, however both of mine have split down the spine. Recently I’ve also upgraded my workflow to include:
- Pomodoro technique to help me focus during the day in getting my longer actions completed
- Inbox Zero so I spend less time on email
Which have both improved things for me, but I need to improve my weekly review and project planning so I’ve been looking at moving up the GTD food chain to something a little more complete. After noodling with some UML diagrams I figure it’s pretty simple to fix, so this is my new (evolved) plan going forward (none of these ideas are very original).
- Keep doing the GSD daily routine. (Turn to a new page, move the bookmark ribbon, date it, write down a list and work the list). Add the number of estimated Pomodoros to tasks to stop you overcommitting yourself
- In the same space keep using pages for notes, GTD inbox, Pomodoros and project planning as needed
- From the back of the book (turn to landscape so I have longer lines) write down actions. This is the GSD master list, but with more structure. A pink tab marks the page with the oldest active action. My column headings were inspired by mGTD. (NA/Competed, Description, Context/Agenda/Waiting, Project, Estimated Pomodoros). My coding for the NA/Completed field is as follows:
- Blank — task has incomplete dependencies
- Box — task is next action
- Tick — complete
- Each time a project plan is created (as part of a Pomordoro usually) mark the project plan with a green tag. When the project is no longer active remove the tag
- If a page has notes that might be needed in future fold down a corner so it’s quicker to skim to ‘important’ notes.
- During the weekly review re-visit the previous weeks pages for incomplete actions, etc. Tick pages in top left when reviewed. Visit project tags to review each project
- Use dated pages for X-ref links
Note that my approach to Pomodoro is deliberately simplistic so I keep limited notes on each one. As long as I know what my next Pomodoro is, have enough information to keep my day useful and can stay focused that’s good enough.
I’ve been using a mind map to refine my ideas
Getting Pomodoros Done Mind Map
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Posted by Alec The Geek on 27 January 2010
I posted recently about using the TaskCoach list manager to support the Pomodoro Technique for actually doing work. Of course Pomodoro does not address the issue of task identification and organisation — so I promised a post on using TaskCoach and Getting Things Done (GTD) as GTD and Pomodoro complement each other nicely.
- Install TaskCoach
- Create Taskcoach categories that reflect the various GTD categories, i.e
- Next Action ( I call it “.Next Action” so it sorts to the top of the list)
- Under Next Action create sub categories to represent your contexts. e.g.
- “.Next Action/Errand”
- “.Next Action/Web”
- “.Next Action/Laptop”
- “.Next Action/Telephone” etc…
- Create a sub category called “.Next Action/_Agenda” (use underscore so that it sorts at the end of the next action list, alternatively make Agenda a top level category). Under that create categories for the people in your life e.g.
- “.Next Action/_Agenda/Wife”
- “.Next Action/_Agenda/Boss”
- “.Next Action/_Agenda/SalesGuyOnCurrenProject” etc
- Optionally make “.Next Action” mutually exclusive on sub categories (suggested by the mailing list)
- Create the same people centric categories under Waiting
- In preferences select the following
- “Use Tabbed Interface..” off (you need to see context and task list at once)
- “Allow for tasking notes” on (optional but useful)
- Edit the “.Next Action” category and make it a different colour (NB Not red as that will hide overdue tasks)
- Optionally make
- Optionally add additional columns to the task view (suggested by the TaskCoach mailing list). It can be useful to add a column for category so that tasks can be sorted by category or context.
- Create top level tasks for your current projects. Create actions as subtasks under projects (You can drag and drop tasks between or into projects)
- Add new actions to the list in the normal fashion, so the task list becomes an inbox as well
- Add due and start dates as required
- Deferred actions
- Delegated actions
- Tasks with a real due date
- Review tasks in the task list (daily) by
- Selecting “Tree of tasks/List of tasks” as you progress to see context (or not)
- Assigning the correct Next Action context to tasks during review. NB Only one NA category should be used
- Moving new actions to the correct projects
- Removing Next Action category from completed tasks
- Using the other categories as appropriate
- Now click on the “.Next Action” category and only next actions are displayed. Selecting a specific sub category (and de-selecting the higher “.Next Action”) will further filter by context
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Posted by Alec The Geek on 29 December 2009
As well as adopting the Pomodoro time management technique I’ve started using TaskCoach to manage my tasks and related lists (based on a GTD style workflow, which I have written about in a later post). TaskCoach has some really useful features, works across all the major desktop platforms, can be used for zero cost and is open source.
Whilst TaskCoach has no direct support for Pomodoro it is easy to add it in by using task templates.
As well as TaskCoach you may need a software Pomodoro timer, I use Pomodairo.
I have created a task template which you can use as a starting point. Download and unpack the template to a file location on your PC. Open TaskCoach and from the file menu select “Add Template”, browse to the location were you saved my template and select it. When you return to the main TaskCoach window you should now be able to select Task -> New Task from Template and see “Pomodoro Task” in the sub menu. Select the Pomodoro Task and you should see something like this
Initial template contents
You can now update the title (make as descriptive as possible so you don’t need to open the task to see what it’s about, but be pithy) and the estimated number of Pomodoros. So it looks like this
Task details updated
When you start your Pomodoro for this task you can open the task to:
- Add notes
- Add ‘ for internal interruptions and – for external interruptions (don’t forget to add any new tasks into TaskCoach)
- At the end of the Pomodoro you can add an X
When you have completed the task you can mark it complete in TaskCoach.
- A simple way to maintain a daily task is to create a ‘Today’ category in TaskCoach. You can then filter the displayed task list based on that category
- In preferences select “Show a popup….when hovering over it” and you will see the Pomodoro related information
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