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Getting Things Done: Smart Lists

Smart Lists

In my first gtd post, I described some of the strategies that I employ to help me get things done. Remember the Milk has become a increasingly large part of that. If you’re reading this and you don’t know about it, you should check it out!

Anyway, one thing that I discovered recently that has changed the way I use RTM is smart lists. Seriously, I’m kicking myself for not knowing about this already! Basically, smart lists are a way to save a search for later use, or, for the techies, a stored query.

This may not seem like a big deal, but for me it is HUGE. This means that I can organize my tasks logically without having to worry about the different views that I might want to simulate.

To give you an idea of how this helps, here is my list of current smart lists (subject to change…a lot):

  • Big Projects: Things that are going to take a long time. These don’t normally show up on my day-to-day activity. It allows me to get an idea of high-level things that I’m working towards. There also shouldn’t be a lot of this due at the same time.
  • Blog: Uses a “blog” tag so that I can track blogging stuff in separate logical lists (work, personal, etc…)
  • Important: Priority 1 tasks from all lists. This list should stay pretty sparse.
  • No Due: Items that have not been assigned a due date are probably tentative or I may need to get rid of them.
  • No Estimate: Since some of my lists take time estimates in to account, it pays for me to move tasks out of this list.
  • No Priority: Much like no due, these tasks may need to be cleaned up.
  • Quick and Easy: Time estimate is low. This is ordered by due date, so I can use it to pick up easy tasks when I have a little time to spare.
  • This Week: Everything that is due this week, except for today.
  • Today: Self explanatory
  • Work Day: This is the same as “Today”, except filtered by an “am” tag that I use to indicate things that should be or can be done during the work day. Walking the dog is not one of these, if I had a dog that is…

I have now switched to using the “Work Day” list only for “I Forgot the Milk” on my work computer. This way, I don’t have to mentally filter out tasks that I can’t do until I get home.

I have yet to realize the full potential of smart lists, but I know that they will make things run a lot smoother for me.