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Author Topic: My assignment: The ToDo List of Doom  (Read 11681 times)
Paul Keith
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« Reply #25 on: September 16, 2009, 11:44:37 AM »

Haha, yeah, I definitely can't eat more than one of that either.

To be honest, baked potatoes aren't really that popular over here. (or at least not well known enough that you can randomly walk by them)

Yours is probably the largest baked potato I've ever seen.

...and hey, with respect to the person who wrote that idea, a big ass chip is still less than a bag of chips (well...almost)

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There seems to be this idea among the "productivity gurus" that you can't be productive without everything being on some sort of list.

It's not so much that everything has to be on a list.

For ex. mouser's index cards are based on the same principle as putting the top priority items above everything else on the list.

...except it's modified for a label printer which is why it's much easier to print it one task at a time as opposed to writing down sets of items per index card or just pasting sticky notes on to the index cards themselves.

Yet as similar as it sounds based on how you described your system, yours is based around avoiding lists.

That's what's interesting to inquire about your concept of a To-do list of Doom. If anything, in application, yours come much closer to SKesselman's concept which I feel is also much better than a To-do list.

No offense to mouser, I'm sure his productivity habits would be interesting to ask about but it's much rarer to find someone who's training to reject as you said, something as close to dogma in the productivity world as a to-do list.

It's just interesting to ask what is going through your mind whenever you accidentally fall back on to a list or are forced to use one ...or where do you draw the limits between a list and not a list (Notezilla being a sticky app being still a model close to what a list is especially when you use it in a certain way) ...or finally, how do you sort your projects if they aren't in an outline or a check list? ...and how do you adjust when you have to enter a task in mid-project?

With regards to the gurus,

I find that alot of productivity gurus tend to ride on each other's backs while hoping to develop their own core audience. They are after all, still about selling the system or to paraphrase one of the anecdotes I quoted in another thread: "How does one make money off of sharing productivity tips?"

That's why advertising a certain product aside, alot of successful gurus keep it safe by addressing what their audience would most likely be familiar and drawn to: to-do lists, Outlook/e-mails and reminder systems (although the latter is more based around calendars rather than sticky notes because it doesn't have a large base yet)

At least that's how I see it generally.

It really is as much the fault of the community as the gurus.

They're just taking advantage of what people commonly expect so that they can reel in the biggest audience + sell the system in the safest manner. (Almost no one will go against the idea that lists don't work.)

That's also why your concept of hating on todos kind of peaked my interest. (Well, almost all GOE posts peak my interest but still...)
« Last Edit: September 16, 2009, 11:48:28 AM by Paul Keith » Logged

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app103
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« Reply #26 on: September 16, 2009, 07:26:47 PM »

Some more problems with lists:

  • Should you be thinking about Item 2 while doing Item 1, especially if they are unrelated? How do you keep from seeing Item 2 when you are looking at Item 1? What if Item 2 is something you don't want to do, and since you see it on the list you know it is next and it makes you not want to finish Item 1?
  • Lists are up and down. They have a top, bottom, and middle. There is no left and right, four corners and center. You can only move an item up or down; add, edit, or remove; or move it to another list.
  • Todo lists in particular... There is no room for thoughts, feelings, rhetorical questions...just tasks to do.

A sticky note is more flexible, more powerful,  and more complete...

  • It can pop up by itself, so you only see Item 1. Since you don't see Item 2, you don't think about Item 2 while doing Item 1. Your thoughts and feelings about Item 2 will not interfere with Item 1.
  • Memoboards have a top, bottom, left, right, center. There is room for notes containing your thoughts, feelings, other ideas, comments, etc. You can move items around with more flexibility, grouping is much easier, you can even stack items on top of another.
  • Individual notes are like pieces of a puzzle, to be examined and fit into place. You can easily switch focus from an individual piece to the big picture. The master memoboard is your life.

Quote
It's just interesting to ask what is going through your mind whenever you accidentally fall back on to a list or are forced to use one ...or where do you draw the limits between a list and not a list (Notezilla being a sticky app being still a model close to what a list is especially when you use it in a certain way) ...or finally, how do you sort your projects if they aren't in an outline or a check list? ...and how do you adjust when you have to enter a task in mid-project?

This is not a list. While it can contain a list, it in itself is not one. Here is a screenshot that will answer most of your questions. It is from my older software that I was using before I started using Notezilla, because I haven't moved it all over yet.

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Paul Keith
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« Reply #27 on: September 17, 2009, 12:28:49 AM »

Forgive me if this seems like I'm replying just for the sake of a reply. I think I kind of lost track with the topic.

I think I'm still just focused on gaining others' perspective but as with SKesselman's post, I fear I might also be falling into being critical of your views.

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Should you be thinking about Item 2 while doing Item 1, especially if they are unrelated? How do you keep from seeing Item 2 when you are looking at Item 1? What if Item 2 is something you don't want to do, and since you see it on the list you know it is next and it makes you not want to finish Item 1?

Yeah, most of the time, I find the effective method would be to have it detached.

Still...depending on the program nowadays, there's lots of unique quirks to bypass this.

Let's use a popular program like Remember the Milk for example. To isolate a task, you just do a search for that task and that will be the only entry that appears.

It's not so much a problem of the list as the lack of innovative designs.

Even with paper, you can apply a folding mechanism to hide each task by level.

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Lists are up and down. They have a top, bottom, and middle. There is no left and right, four corners and center. You can only move an item up or down; add, edit, or remove; or move it to another list.

Actually this is why some people use Mindmanager and other fishbone applications to bypass this. (I do consider them lists. The concept basically just moves your list left to right instead of up and down.)

I find them highly annoying though. I still much prefer the six corners feel of Compendium. (Even if it's not ideal as a pure to-do list)

But you're right, that's why I hate most lists.

On the flip side, that's why I also use XP's way of viewing in tiles or icons combined with .txt files.

It achieves the same effect of four corners while still allowing you to click inside the .txt if you want a list of sub-tasks.

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Todo lists in particular... There is no room for thoughts, feelings, rhetorical questions...just tasks to do.

Again, this depends on the particular software design.

I agree most to-dos omit these.

RTM and Toodledo has notes though. GoNutShell in particular nearly captured it ideally if only it was a software instead of an online app.

The design is literally one half notepad/one half to-do list in 2-pane form.

Unfortunately the notepad is static.

That is, it doesn't matter what list you move away from, your notepad contents stay the same.

Quote
It can pop up by itself, so you only see Item 1. Since you don't see Item 2, you don't think about Item 2 while doing Item 1. Your thoughts and feelings about Item 2 will not interfere with Item 1.

True.

Just to provide a devil's advocate opinion, the problem with software sticky notes though is that you have to set this behaviour up and you still have to be a master of reminders. (or at least pop-ups)

The end result being no different than self-e-mail reminder services minus the e-mail component.

Of course there are other specific features Notezilla has that makes it a better fit for these kinds of necessities but there are some people like me that are just as bad with reminders as we are with lists.

With lists, it can just feel much easier to put an entry inside but difficult to extract. Vice versa for sticky notes programs if set up ideally.

(I know...I know...your system's not for everyone, I'm just being a devil's advocate :p)

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Memoboards have a top, bottom, left, right, center. There is room for notes containing your thoughts, feelings, other ideas, comments, etc. You can move items around with more flexibility, grouping is much easier, you can even stack items on top of another.

Yeah, I hope more developers design with memoboards in mind.

I'm not sure I tried Notezilla's but when I tried a software sticky note once, my main problem was that it was kind of confusing to set it up to a memoboard.

I just kept jumping between sticky notes - memoboard - tabs back and forth out of fear that I might've missed putting an entry to another entry and vice versa.

It still had potential but it relied too much on knowing exactly how to configure the notes so that if you want an overview, you got an overview and if you want a single note, you got a single note and when you want to schedule something, you know exactly what range you want to schedule it.

In the long run, I just felt I was having the same problems as when I was being overloaded with lists.

At a certain point, all the sticky notes despite the different coloring tend to start looking the same and then it's like I'm back on a list trying to squint at where the sticky note I put the suggestions in and where are the sticky note I made a reminder of and where are the notes that deal with the mundane tasks and where are the notes that deal with the large tasks within a project.

I guess what I'm trying to hint as is despite the fact that lists lose alot to sticky notes, sticky notes can just as become inflexible, less powerful and incomplete if you can't quite "get" what the big picture model is about.

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Individual notes are like pieces of a puzzle, to be examined and fit into place. You can easily switch focus from an individual piece to the big picture. The master memoboard is your life.

Yeah, this is what I like about detachable pieces.

Similarly this is why I prefer different applications to handle different tasks even if they are tasks related to the same project.

It's kind of just like using multiple browsers. At a certain point, any annoyance I have with one, I can temporarily off-set with another if I don't know how to fix it.

I will borrow a concept from you though. What do you think of this?

The Master Brain of Doom

There seems to be this idea among the "productivity gurus" that you can't be productive without everything being on some sort of separate brain.

I spent too much of my time trying to figure out how to make these tasks grouped together in one place, fighting against myself, trying to figure out how to "fix" my brain so these tasks would combine as a separate piece of my mind. It's just not going to happen. If this one location falls, I'd be left with less of a brain.


I know you do have a master memoboard, but still I'm curious to hear what you think of this.

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This is not a list. While it can contain a list, it in itself is not one. Here is a screenshot that will answer most of your questions. It is from my older software that I was using before I started using Notezilla, because I haven't moved it all over yet.

Nah, you posted a screenshot similar to that before. Remember the sticky note thread where you recommended using 3m's Digital Post-its before you switched to Notezilla?

That was the post that made me think seriously of software post-its.

« Last Edit: September 17, 2009, 12:30:34 AM by Paul Keith » Logged

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Paul Keith
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« Reply #28 on: September 20, 2009, 01:26:48 PM »

Ok, after the PC suddenly lost sound and I don't know how to troubleshoot, I got a new question:

How do you deal with such sudden changes when you're a person used to hearing sounds?!

I get that there are still pop-ups but even with normal software productivity systems, I hate it when sudden PC related interruptions happen and every plan goes to hell for this one issue. It makes me wonder how worse it could be if a main component of what makes you productive relies on sound.
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SKesselman
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« Reply #29 on: September 20, 2009, 01:59:34 PM »

No big deal. Everybody uses something. I use my sight, you use your hearing.
It's good for you to know what makes you tick  smiley.
If the power went out and it was late at night, I probably wouldn't be productive, if I didn't have to be. And, I'd have a great excuse!

Are you absolutely sure you need sound to be productive?
What if someone offered you $10,000 to, for one week, be (roughly) as productive without the sound on your computer?
I know if push came to shove, if I couldn't see any of my tasks, I'd figure out a way to keep going. I think you would, too.  Wink

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app103
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« Reply #30 on: September 21, 2009, 12:20:26 AM »

Because of the way I have my PC's desktop set up, sound is irrelevant. The popups will get your attention without it, one way or another.

There is a bug in Notezilla that makes it not play well with my desktop, and a built in annoyance that doesn't take my situation into consideration.

The annoyance: Notezilla was designed for normal people that don't have their taskbar stretched to max size and situated on the right side of their desktop, on autohide, like I do. It flashes the taskbar button which causes the taskbar to unhide and stay stuck till I address the popup sitting on the only visible half of my screen.

The bug: It messes up the z-order of some things on my desktop, causing some items that should always be on top to drop behind other windows. I am a clock watcher by nature and when my clock disappears from my desktop I go through withdrawal. I have to minimize every window and find my clock and click it to bring it back to always on top. (it messes up other things besides my clock, such as messenger+ desktop buttons and trout minibar).

Combined, these two things do more than sound could ever do for getting my attention and forcing me to address the note constructively, making me think twice about hitting the snooze thereby causing it come back later and cause chaos again. I do what is on the note or else.  cheesy

If the power went out and it was late at night, I probably wouldn't be productive, if I didn't have to be. And, I'd have a great excuse!

If the power went out here, I'd be differently productive, most likely doing things that don't require electricity, and can be done by the light of candles, oil lamp, or wind up flashlight, providing it wasn't insanely hot & humid. (if it was, I'd probably go on a shopping spree at the 24-hour drugstore on the other side of town)

I am the type of person that always has to be doing something and since acquiring my first PC, it is usually something on my computer. I can not remain idle too long without becoming bored and my house is stocked with plenty of things to prevent that from happening.  Grin
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Paul Keith
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« Reply #31 on: September 21, 2009, 02:55:36 AM »

@SKesselman
Quote
Are you absolutely sure you need sound to be productive?

Not so much but as app alludes to, you tend to go to withdrawal especially if you're in a transition period/working on a project that relies on a system you've been used to

Quote
What if someone offered you $10,000 to, for one week, be (roughly) as productive without the sound on your computer?

I'll take the 10,000 if it requires me not being as organized during that period. :p

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I know if push came to shove, if I couldn't see any of my tasks, I'd figure out a way to keep going. I think you would, too.

Yeah but that's kind of the point of any productivity system.

How we fill the holes and gaps are what would improve the system not only for us but to those who have read our suggestions.

If we make the excuse that simply we can go on without seeing our task than wouldn't it be equally valid if a talented person said to a less talented person "I can be productive without a productivity system so should you!"

@app,
Haha yeah. That's kind of my disappointment with most productivity systems either. They kind of don't emphasize that.

I know part of my procrastination comes from the fact that when I'm in the middle of something and I lose track for one reason or another, my mind just goes into "I have to do something" mode and sometimes I zone in on a book while other times I zone in on a handheld gaming device. Sad really.

Anyways, I'm kind of glad that you revealled this. This changes the whole dynamics of your idea.

If you don't mind, I would love to hear how you are able to set up your computer. Along with one handed fast typing, this is one of the most mysterious tech hacks I've ever heard of.

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app103
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« Reply #32 on: September 21, 2009, 03:19:12 AM »

Don't tell me you are the only person on the forum that isn't familiar with why I am "That scary taskbar girl".



Thanks to mouser's Launchbar Commander, the one on the other side is much smaller now. It used to be just as big as the other one.  cheesy



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Paul Keith
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« Reply #33 on: September 21, 2009, 04:20:11 AM »

Ok, I won't tell you  tongue but seriously this forum is so welcoming of newbies that I didn't know who all of you are until I remember a specific thing you said.

That is pretty nice though. Matches closely with my design for that perfect Operating System.

How did you set that up? Especially the folders, did you memorize them so you can afford looking at just the icons?

I also notice you have three Firefox icons and one globe that looks like the DC icon. Are those just windows or did you do something special with them? (Like app_shortcuts for Chrome or Prism for Firefox where you click on an icon to get to a webpage)





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app103
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« Reply #34 on: September 21, 2009, 07:23:31 PM »

Repositioning and resizing your taskbar:

  • Right click and unlock the taskbar.
  • Click in an empty area and drag the taskbar to the side of the screen you want it on.
  • Resize it, dragging it as large as it will go.
  • Right click the taskbar and select Properties.
  • Place a check in the box for "Autohide the taskbar"
  • You can also check "Keep the taskbar on top of other windows" but you might not like that, since it will cause it to pop out when you don't want it to, unless you are very used to it. You can always keep that unchecked and just hit your Windows key when you want to access it, but that will make the Start menu pop open, which is something I don't like. (Since my very first PC came preconfigured with the taskbar this way, I have used it no other way and am quite used to having it always on top and it doesn't fly out when I don't want it to. It takes getting used to.)

To create the toolbars:

  • Create a folder somewhere just for taskbar shortcuts.
  • Create a subfolder for each bar, to sort your icons in some way that makes sense to you (I sort mine by purpose)
  • Drop shortcut files to everything you want on the toolbar into the folders. You can right click shortcuts in the start menu and copy, then paste into the folders. Keep the total number of icons on each bar low till you get used to it, adding more later on. Otherwise it will feel like a confusing disorganized mess.
  • Right click the taskbar and under the Toolbars menu, select "New toolbar" and select one of the folders of shortcuts that you made. Do this with each folder.

You can right click the toolbars to customize them a little.

  • On the "View" menu, choose your icon size, large or small (I use small)
  • You can uncheck "Show Text" to get rid of the labels for each icon.
  • You can uncheck "Show Title" to get rid of the toolbar folder name.

You can slide the toolbars up and down to position them where you want, placing some at the top and others at the bottom near the tray. (the upper row at the bottom is a toolbar, and the very bottom row is my tray) You can change the order by just dragging it above/below another toolbar.

In the future, you can add new shortcuts easily by either dragging files to the toolbar, just where you want them, or copying shortcuts from the start menu and right clicking the toolbar, selecting "Open folder", and pasting it in.

By the way...Windows will allow you to have a total of 4 giant toolbars, one taskbar and the other 3 being pure toolbars without running application buttons, start button, or tray. You just have to drag a folder full of shortcuts from Explorer to the edge of the screen to dock it, then create additional toolbars on it the same way I explained for the taskbar.

I stopped doing this because the extra ones are more prone to being completely wiped out in an explorer crash, and Launchbar Commander takes up less space and doesn't forget where everything is supposed to go. But it might be handy for a toolbar at the top or bottom containing stuff like the DC search bar. (I also made a clock that can be used) If you keep that toolbar slim, there might not be a need to keep it hidden, and it can also contain the windows address bar, which some people thought was removed from XP with the release of SP3. (It wasn't, they just removed the option to show it on taskbar. Additional toolbars still have the option.)

My folders are positioned next to the applications they are related to. If they are not related to a specific application, then I change the icon to something that gives me some sort of hint as to what it is. If I forget what something is, I can always hover and read the tooltip. It's important to log out and back in after setting icon positions and take a screenshot to use as a guide to reposition your icons in case of Explorer crashing and forgetting where all the icons were supposed to be (happens only rarely, but it does happen so screenshots of desktop are important to me)

Position on the rows is important to me, with the most frequently used stuff in any category being either the first 2 or last 2 icons on a row. Less frequently used stuff is in the middle of a row. I pretty much do have the icons memorized, and their positions. I didn't start out with a full load like that. I built up to it over the course of years.

In the case of toolbars which span multiple rows, the more important icons show and the rest are hidden on a menu, accessed by clicking the little arrow button. (I currently only have one like this)

You could optionally drag the toolbar beneath it lower, so the toolbar will show all icons on all rows and no little arrow button.

My 3 firefox icons: The one in the first position of the 6th toolbar is the one I use most, just for surfing the web. The one in the middle of that row opens firefox in safe mode, in case I have an issue. The one in the middle of the 10th toolbar is a portable version set up with web development related extensions.

The globe that looks like the DC icon is Popup Cody

One thing you should know: It can be a royal pain in the butt to have to pop out your taskbar to see what time it is, which is why I wrote the little clock application you see at the upper left of the screen.
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Paul Keith
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« Reply #35 on: September 22, 2009, 02:53:55 AM »

Nice! Thanks for the instructions.
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