Friday, 16 December 2011

Keeping sane

I've had a busy 16 months. Maria left for sunny Bangor in August 2010 and then Paul left in April 2011. This left all of the Head of Student Development role and most of the Director of SSDS role to be covered (whilst still doing bits of my old job). I've not covered the roles perfectly but I have been able to keep relatively on top of things (all things considered). There have been a number of things that have kept me sane; my wife, my kids, my faith, my daily cycle, supportive colleagues, but the one that this post is about is my task management system (exciting, eh?), which is getting things done using remember the milk.

A while back I explained how I set up the system, and after nearly 2 years of use I can say that it's still working. I've not changed it much other than adding meetings tags (e.g. m_teamleaders), which strictly speaking are really contexts but I was finding I was having so many meetings it was useful to give them a prefix of their own. The tags I use the most are:
  • people contexts, e.g. c_susan is for things I need to discuss with my boss - these context tags are very handy because even if a task isn't due today (most task management systems seem to focus on dates rather than tags) if I'm sitting in front of Susan I can see everything I need to discuss with her, even if it's not due that day;
  • project tags are also useful, e.g. p_bootcamp, so if I have an hour to work on the boot camp project I can bring up all the related tasks;
  • status tags, which I use less but s_waiting is handy when I'm waiting to hear back from someone on something;
  • reference tags, e.g. r_insurance (I use it for home as well as work) are really useful too.
These combined with Remember the milk's smart lists, e.g. "NOT(due:never OR due:today) AND NOT (list:zzz)" for my 'tickler list' ((if this isn't making any sense you need to read that previous post) make it a really powerful and scalable system.

I try and have a review each week where I try to cover this kind of stuff. It's often difficult to keep up but the great thing about the system is that it doesn't take long to get back on the wagon once you've fallen off. It's not a perfect system (despite what the GTD publicity might say) but it is a good system. And being able to access Remember the milk from phone, iPad or Desktop (and all these other services) means that it's easy to capture everything and then process it accordingly (see below - NOT creative commons).

What a dull post that was.


  1. Not dull, I was almost persuaded, but it would take more than two minutes.

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