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Tips & Tricks Tuesday: Planning a week at a time

Tuesday, January 21, 2014 by Andrew Conkling

It's easy to get into a routine of postponing too many tasks too often. This week's tip, shared by marthe.marthe, suggests a straightforward method for keeping track of just the current week, making your lists and projects more manageable.

I have tried many things to get my tasks done, and I finally have found a way without being busy and wasting time in endlessly rescheduling my tasks. I thought I would share it as there might be other people around using the same method.

What I have noticed and tried is first to make different lists of different activities that I have, based on Personal, Work, Home and other things in life. I initially tried to spread my tasks over the week by scheduling for every day a certain amount of tasks that I thought would be feasible to complete. However I found myself in rescheduling the tasks, postponing and feeling hopelessly lost in my work at the end of the week, because I never manage to finish them all.

Therefore I decided to mix RTM a bit with the insights of kanban flow and give all my tasks that need to be done on short notice the end date of Friday. That will set, for every list, the week's goals. As you can imagine that will result in a long list with too many tasks. So what I have done to keep focused is to set my priorities by using the 1, 2, 3 priority indicators of RTM. The golden rule is that no more than three tasks in every list can have priority 1. So what happens now is that I have my focus of every list, limited to 3 top priorities. And whenever I finish all three of them, there is just a short list that I have to evaluate to consider the next top 3 priorities.

Of course there also are tasks that are repeating and come up during the week. But because I have used the priorities they are just on top of the list by due date and do not stop me from keeping my focus.

This way of working saves me a lot of time since now the only thing I have to do is evaluating my week and setting the new focus for the week, without rescheduling a lot, since all will move to the next Friday!

Thanks for sharing this tip, marthe.marthe! You're our Tips & Tricks Tuesday winner this week.

Do you have a suggestion for our weekly Tips & Tricks post? Got an interesting set-up or idea? Head over to the Tips & Tricks forum, add a new topic, and let us know how you use Remember The Milk. Each week we'll give away a 1 year Pro account to the user whose idea inspires the Tips & Tricks Tuesday blog post for that week.

Posted in: Tips & Tricks

Tips & Tricks Tuesday: An Eisenhower Matrix using Smart Lists

Tuesday, January 14, 2014 by Andrew Conkling

An Eisenhower matrix can be a useful way to separate and to prioritize important tasks versus urgent ones. This week's tip, shared by mehardin, suggests an automatic setup of these four quadrants using Smart Lists.

It's difficult when planning our day and our actions to lose sight between the difference in those items that are urgent and those that are important. For example, answering the phone is urgent. If you don't do it now, the caller will hang up. But the vast majority of the time, for most of us, it isn't all that important. Spending time with your spouse or children, exercising, scheduling a physical, etc. are all examples of tasks that are important, but they may not be urgent at the moment. […]

I propose the best way to manage these quadrants in RTM is by combining Priorities and Due Dates. To do this, I made 6 Smart Lists: Important, Urgent, Q1, Q2, Q3, and Q4. My search terms for the Smart Lists are as follows:

  • Important: priority:1 OR priority:2 OR priority:3
  • Urgent: dueBefore:"3 days"
  • Q1: list:Important AND list:Urgent
  • Q2: list:Important AND NOT list:Urgent
  • Q3: list:Urgent AND NOT list:Important
  • Q4: NOT (list:Important OR list:Urgent)

Be sure to read the whole post for more thoughts on using the matrix day to day.

Thanks for sharing this tip, mehardin! You're our Tips & Tricks Tuesday winner this week.

Do you have a suggestion for our weekly Tips & Tricks post? Got an interesting set-up or idea? Head over to the Tips & Tricks forum, add a new topic, and let us know how you use Remember The Milk. Each week we'll give away a 1 year Pro account to the user whose idea inspires the Tips & Tricks Tuesday blog post for that week.

Posted in: Tips & Tricks

Share how many tasks you've completed in 2013

Thursday, December 26, 2013 by Emily Boyd

Wondering how much you've accomplished with Remember The Milk this year? No problem, Bob's been keeping count for you! Just login to the web app, and we'll tell you how many tasks you've completed in 2013.

If you'd like to let everyone know how much you got done this year, there's also an option to share your achievement via Facebook or Twitter (as you can see, Bob had a pretty productive year).

Posted in: New Features & Updates

Tips & Tricks Tuesday: Keeping track of important questions

Tuesday, December 17, 2013 by Andrew Conkling

Whether it's your boss, family, friends, or someone else, it's easy to think of something you want to ask someone… but not have the opportunity to ask it right away. This week's tip, shared by visruts, offers an easy way to keep track of these questions until the opportunities arise!

If you are anything like me, you have a perpetual habit of forgetting important questions that you wanted to ask someone. However, Remember The Milk has a really easy way of helping you with this.

  1. Create a new list with the name of the of the person you want to ask the questions.
  2. Add tasks to the list that you want to ask the person.
  3. Use priorities for each question so you know which to ask first if you have limited time.
  4. Add a location for all of the tasks in this list – this should be where you would normally meet the person (that way you won't forget when you are nearby)
  5. Remember your pressing questions!

In addition to these tips, I find it helpful to add a note with the answers I got to each question before I completed them so that everything would be organized in a central place.

Thanks for sharing this tip, visruts! You're our Tips & Tricks Tuesday winner this week.

Do you have a suggestion for our weekly Tips & Tricks post? Got an interesting set-up or idea? Head over to the Tips & Tricks forum, add a new topic, and let us know how you use Remember The Milk. Each week we'll give away a 1 year Pro account to the user whose idea inspires the Tips & Tricks Tuesday blog post for that week.

Posted in: Tips & Tricks

Tips & Tricks Tuesday: Remembering to show gratitude

Tuesday, December 10, 2013 by Andrew Conkling

Some tasks can be necessary to get things done, while others are the type that simply make your day better. This week's tip, shared by kateoneill, suggests passing on a bit of joy by being mindful of one's gratitude for others!

I keep meaning to write more thank you cards, because it's such a joy every time I get one that I want to share that joy with others. So I have a repeating task called "Write and send a thank you note to someone for something they did this week, just because" that recurs twice a week to remind me.

Thanks for sharing this tip, kateoneill! You're our Tips & Tricks Tuesday winner this week.

Do you have a suggestion for our weekly Tips & Tricks post? Got an interesting set-up or idea? Head over to the Tips & Tricks forum, add a new topic, and let us know how you use Remember The Milk. Each week we'll give away a 1 year Pro account to the user whose idea inspires the Tips & Tricks Tuesday blog post for that week.

Posted in: Tips & Tricks

Tips & Tricks Tuesday: Planning a holiday party

Tuesday, December 3, 2013 by Andrew Conkling

The holidays can be rather hectic times, particularly surrounding parties — for all their fun, they often require a lot of planning! This week's tip, shared by vkhubani, shows a few ways to help navigate the planning process to make them less hectic and more fun!

Bob hosts a holiday party

I am planning a holiday party at my house this season and the activity can get pretty hectic to manage (what to cook, what to wear, decorations, shopping, etc.). Not to mention keeping track of all of the things I need to do for someone else's party!

RTM has helped me manage my parties in several different ways:

  1. I created a list for each party that I am attending or hosting
    • My Party
    • John's Party
    • Michelle's Party
  2. I use hashtags to tell me what the task is about
    • #cook
    • #buy
    • #chore
    • #errand
  3. I use locations to add all of my favorite stores and my house so that I get alerted whenever I am nearby (with my Android app)
    • @grocery
    • @partystore
    • @butcher
    • @home

And there you have it! All of my party tasks in a nice neat little gift-wrapped package. Of course, don't forget to create some Smart Lists to help you through like:

  • For a quick list of things I need to buy for my party
    list:"My Party" and tag:buy
  • For a quick list of things I need to do to prep for someone else's party
    list:"John's Party" and (tag:chore or tag:errand)

Happy Holidays!

Thanks for sharing this tip, vkhubani! You're our Tips & Tricks Tuesday winner this week.

Do you have a suggestion for our weekly Tips & Tricks post? Got an interesting set-up or idea? Head over to the Tips & Tricks forum, add a new topic, and let us know how you use Remember The Milk. Each week we'll give away a 1 year Pro account to the user whose idea inspires the Tips & Tricks Tuesday blog post for that week.

Posted in: Tips & Tricks

Tips & Tricks Tuesday: Simple GTD using Remember The Milk

Tuesday, November 26, 2013 by Andrew Conkling

We've featured a few different GTD setups in the past but, perhaps as a testament to the flexibility of Remember The Milk, there are a variety of useful ways to set things up. This week's tip, shared by mattssoncarl, outlines a straightforward setup for projects and other tasks.

This system attempts to make a GTD-ish system as appealing and easy as possible. I created this system for myself due to most others including different arrangements of symbols in front of the actual tasks or tags, something which to me makes it looks very unappealing and complicated. I wanted something which both looked good and was extremely easy to work with.

The system has a few key concepts which you will have to accept for the system to work, or at least to work as mine does:

  1. First, every task must have either a tag or a due date.
  2. Second, every project gets its own tag.
  3. Third, priority one is to be utilized for project goals, whereas priority two is for next actions.

This is basically it, let me illustrate. Say I want to clean out one of my closets to put the summer clothing in the garage. I start with creating the goal and tag for the project, lets call it summerclothing.

Clean out the summerclothes from your wardrobe and put them in the garage !1 #summerclothing

By doing this, we state the goal of the project and we create the project by starting the tag summerclothing. Let's continue with adding some new tasks to it:

Buy crate for storing clothes !2 #summerclothing
Sort out summerclothes from the wardrobe #summerclothing
Put the summerclothes in the garage #summerclothing

And there we have it, a simple project. You simply move around the priority 2 for sorting your next action (if you want to, in some projects you might consider this a bit redundant), and when you are finished with a project you simply mark the priority 1 as finished.

Other tasks might not be projects and or need to be done on specific dates, for this you simply add a due date.

Book a time for laundry ^today
Pay the bills ^26th *monthly

Read the full post for more details.

Thanks for sharing this tip, mattssoncarl! You're our Tips & Tricks Tuesday winner this week.

Do you have a suggestion for our weekly Tips & Tricks post? Got an interesting set-up or idea? Head over to the Tips & Tricks forum, add a new topic, and let us know how you use Remember The Milk. Each week we'll give away a 1 year Pro account to the user whose idea inspires the Tips & Tricks Tuesday blog post for that week.

Posted in: Tips & Tricks

Tips & Tricks Tuesday: Keeping an eye on old tasks with a Smart List

Tuesday, November 19, 2013 by Andrew Conkling

It can be difficult to think about older tasks that you may not have gotten to in a while. This week's tip, shared by alexriabtsev, suggests a way of honing in on the most important tasks you may have forgotten about so they don't get left behind!

How many times do you have your tasks incomplete for ages? I do this regularly (thus this is not on my Routine list :) ). But I found the way to keep my tasks refreshed. Just make a Smart List with following search:

dueBefore:today OR (priority:none AND status:incomplete NOT addedWithin:"1 month of today")

With this Smart List I have all my old overdue tasks (added more than a month ago) kept in one place and can do 3D (do, delegate or delete). This really helps me be more organized.

Thanks for sharing this tip, alexriabtsev! You're our Tips & Tricks Tuesday winner this week.

Do you have a suggestion for our weekly Tips & Tricks post? Got an interesting set-up or idea? Head over to the Tips & Tricks forum, add a new topic, and let us know how you use Remember The Milk. Each week we'll give away a 1 year Pro account to the user whose idea inspires the Tips & Tricks Tuesday blog post for that week.

Posted in: Tips & Tricks

Tips & Tricks Tuesday: Budget tracking with Remember The Milk

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 by Andrew Conkling

Keeping up with your bills each month is no small feat, especially considering the typical choices seem to be paying the basic ones automatically or keeping a stack of paper bills that arrive in the mail.

This week's tip, shared by hwebbjr, offers an easy method for tracking your bills each month with a simple way to draw a budget from each month's expenses.

Bob keeps trash of his cash

I'm hit-or-miss when it comes paying all my bills each month. I don't mind paying them, it's just that the task is large and spread out over the month. Therefore, it's easy to forget a bill or two or to forget an upcoming debit and spend too much before the bill is taken from the account, leaving me short. However, since using RTM to schedule my bill payments, forgetting is a thing of the past.

I first created a monthly list entitled, "Bills". Then, reviewing my last bank statement, I created a task for each bill payment due during the month, noting the payee, the date the payment is due or debited, and the amount. Here's what it looks like:

  • Pmt – Firestone Bill ($25)
  • Confirm – Mortgage Debit ($1,050)
  • Transfer – Food Funds to Ally Bank ($700)

I include the date I want to pay the bill in the date field, make it repeat "every 1 month", tag it "bills", and include the URL that takes me to the online payment website for each bill.

Not only do I get a reminder of when to pay each bill, I also can do a search for payments due for the balance of the month to make sure I have adequate funds in the account (My search query: tag:bills AND dueBefore:9/1 — changing the query to the first day of the next month each time I do the search). The result is a list of the remaining payables for the rest of the month.

This also helps with bills that are due only a few times a year by changing the repeat interval to "every 3 months" or "every 6 months" or even "every 1 year". This makes my vehicle taxes (due annually), Sirius radio bill (due every 3 months) easy to track and remember.

Thanks for sharing this tip, hwebbjr! You're our Tips & Tricks Tuesday winner this week.

Do you have a suggestion for our weekly Tips & Tricks post? Got an interesting set-up or idea? Head over to the Tips & Tricks forum, add a new topic, and let us know how you use Remember The Milk. Each week we'll give away a 1 year Pro account to the user whose idea inspires the Tips & Tricks Tuesday blog post for that week.

Posted in: Tips & Tricks

Tips & Tricks Tuesday: Defining GTD contexts with what's available

Tuesday, October 29, 2013 by Andrew Conkling

David Allen's Getting Things Done (GTD) approach is a popular method for organizing your lists and tasks. This week's tip, shared by kyle.faber, suggests a unique way to frame GTD contexts in Remember The Milk, as tools instead of locations.

So using RTM to accomplish my personal GTD implementation (as is the way) leads me to find that my contexts are sometimes (always) defined by the tools I have at my disposal in certain situations vs where I am or what I am doing. Examples of this include websites that don't work in mobile, downloads I need to accomplish or phone calls I need to make when I'm in a noisy environment. So I add context indicators to my tasks that qualify them as tools necessary (or optional) to accomplish a task.

  • PC
  • Wifi (generic for all internet)
  • iPad
  • Mobile
  • Desk
  • Alone
  • Etc.

So I then create Smart Lists that look for Next Actions that can be accomplished using the tools I have at my disposal. Here's a generic example:

Work: tag:na AND (tag:PC OR tag:ipad OR tag:mobile OR tag:wifi OR tag:desk) AND (location:Work OR isLocated:false)

When I'm at work, I have access to a PC & my iPad & my desk & internet, so a lot of tasks show up. But when I'm commuting on the train, I have fewer tools at my disposal:

Train: tag:na AND (tag:ipad OR tag:mobile) AND timeEstimate:"< 35" AND isLocated:false

I want to open my PC, I don't have Wi-Fi for my iPad and I don't have a desk. I also only ride the train for 35 minutes, so I don't want to see tasks that will take an hour, even if I can do them from my mobile phone (like watch a long Netflix video). I also don't want to see any contexts that are location dependent because I don't have a location that matters.

This approach allows me to very quickly figure out how to be productive in new locations and situations because I just look at the tools around me and bang out a quick Smart List with what I've got.

  • Work From Home (same as work, but the location is changed)
  • Airplane
  • Remote Desk (another company office, not my HQ)
  • Hotel

Thanks for sharing this tip, kyle.faber! You're our Tips & Tricks Tuesday winner this week.

Do you have a suggestion for our weekly Tips & Tricks post? Got an interesting set-up or idea? Head over to the Tips & Tricks forum, add a new topic, and let us know how you use Remember The Milk. Each week we'll give away a 1 year Pro account to the user whose idea inspires the Tips & Tricks Tuesday blog post for that week.

Posted in: Tips & Tricks