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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

Tips & Tricks Tuesday: Prioritizing schoolwork with a Smart List

Tuesday, October 22, 2013 by Andrew Conkling

Entering an entire syllabus worth of assignments into a "School" Remember The Milk list can be daunting to look over afterward. This week's tip, shared by vergenzt, shows a Smart List that can show you just what's coming up — just the due date and priority, and you'll see only what you need to!

In college, many of my classes include information on the syllabus about all of the homework assignments and tests for the rest of the semester. Being the organization-freak that I am, I like to put as much of it into RTM as I can at the beginning. However, it can be overwhelming to see all of the homework I have for the rest of the semester on one list, even if it is sorted by date.

So my solution to this is to put everything into a "Schoolwork" list, and then make a "Todo-School" Smart List that shows much just what is coming up, where more warning is given for higher priorities like tests. I use tags to mark which class the assignments are for.

Todo-School search [broken down by criteria]:
list:schoolwork AND (
due:never OR
dueBefore:today OR
(dueWithin:"2 days") OR
(dueWithin:"3 days" AND priority:3) OR
(dueWithin:"4 days" AND priority:2) OR
(dueWithin:"6 days" AND priority:1)
)

Todo-School search [all together]:
list:schoolwork AND (due:never OR dueBefore:today OR (dueWithin:"2 days") OR (dueWithin:"3 days" AND priority:3) OR (dueWithin:"4 days" AND priority:2) OR (dueWithin:"6 days" AND priority:1))

I can use the priority of a topic to tell RTM how far in advance it needs to show it on my todo list, and anything without a due date will always be displayed until I set one. It's serving me well. :)

Thanks for sharing this tip, vergenzt! 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: Practicing a new language with Remember The Milk

Tuesday, October 15, 2013 by Andrew Conkling

Globe

With our language support (thanks to our awesome translators!), Remember The Milk can be a neat way to test your foreign language skills: just change the language, test out the app, and change your setting back when you're done.

This week's tip, shared by relevart, suggests something a bit more dedicated: entering your tasks in your foreign language, learning and practicing as you go.

Yesterday evening I was thinking about ways of how I could improve my English skills. One of the ideas I came up with was to utilize my regular RTM usage to do that.

I am from Hungary and so far I have been adding all of my tasks to RTM in Hungarian. Today I started to add all of my tasks in English. This takes a bit more time because sometimes I have to think a few moments about the translation or look up some words in an online dictionary, but this way I am practicing English every day without too much extra effort.

I have already learned a few new words and expressions while translating all of my uncompleted tasks to English. At first it's a little odd to see the tasks in English, but I already love this new way of using RTM. If you would like to improve your English skills you should give it a try too!

Thanks for sharing this tip, relevart! 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

Birthday #8

Monday, October 14, 2013 by Emily Boyd

Bob T. Monkey celebrates birthday #8

This weekend we celebrated Remember The Milk turning eight years old. Amazingly, Bob doesn't look like he's aged a bit since October 2005…

We'd like to say a gigantic thank you to everyone who's supported us over the past eight years, with an extra special thanks of course to those who've upgraded to Pro (Remember The Milk couldn't exist without you!).

Quite simply, Bob and the team thank you all for using Remember The Milk! :)

Posted in: Behind the Scenes

Tips & Tricks Tuesday: Planning your day with time estimates

Tuesday, October 8, 2013 by Andrew Conkling

Ever have a time when you take a look at your list for the day and realize you have way too much to do? This week's tip, shared by susani, shows a handy Smart List that will let you know how much you have planned for the day to help you plan accordingly.

  1. Daily or regular tasks: Repeat: "every 1 day"… (use every)
  2. Tag all daily tasks: (tag=daily)
  3. Give all repeating tasks an estimated time
  4. Create a Smart List: a list that shows you daily repeated plus overdue, plus special tasks of the day:

    tag:daily OR dueBefore:today OR due:today

Now you get the total time you need for all these tasks for this list on the right side, when your Smart List is opened.

I like this total time estimation.

Thanks for sharing this tip, susani! 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: Separating timed and untimed tasks with Smart Lists

Tuesday, October 1, 2013 by Andrew Conkling

Managing your tasks can be an all-day affair… particularly if you use your tasks to manage your day! :) This week's tip, shared by robert.ward, offers a helpful process for managing some tasks at specific times and others more generally throughout the day.

A lot of my daily repeating work tasks are little items but they have to be done, so I don't want to miss them. Because of this I have them due at specific times. But they would sometimes get lost in the mix of the rest of my tasks for the day with higher priorities. And at other times they would annoy me because I couldn't do them yet, but they were still hanging out there on my list.

Inspired by the Tips and Tricks post about creating a "Snooze Smart List", I created two Smart Lists for work. One is for tasks due today with a specific time. The other is tasks due today without a specific time.

The search for each is as follows:

  • Tasks with a specific time:

    list:work AND ((dueBefore:now AND NOT dueBefore:"today 12:01AM") OR (due:today AND dueAfter:now))

  • Tasks due today with no set time (note that the list "WkToday" Smart List is the search above):

    NOT list:WkToday AND due:today AND list:work

Now I can look at each list individually and knock out my time sensitive tasks first, then go focus on other tasks for the day.

Thanks for sharing this tip, robert.ward! 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: Prioritize your e-books with Remember The Milk

Tuesday, September 24, 2013 by Andrew Conkling

With Remember The Milk you can make a list of anything, sort it, prioritize, and complete the tasks in it. This week's tip comes from mathieu.hubeek, who shows off our recent Evernote integration to keep a running list of books to read.

Bob reads an old-school book

I just love my Sony e-reader and I use it a lot.

The only problem with the reader is the index; it only shows the cover and the title of the book. Read and unread books are in one list sorted by alphabet. Pretty frustrating.

Often after reading a review online I add a new e-book to my reader, a few weeks later I forgot what it was about and it remains somewhere in the middle of my booklist on my e-reader.

Now I’m using the following “workflow”:

When adding new books to my e-reader I also add a new note to Evernote (notebook: books) with the review/my own notes and I set a reminder so it shows up in RTM in my Inbox list.

In RTM I set the priority (must read books = priority 1) and add tags for book type (thriller/drama/poetry etc), after that I move the tasks to my e-reader list in RTM.

Now when I want to read a new book I just pop up my RTM e-reader list on my iPhone and the “must read books” are on top (priority 1), the tags show the book type and a full review is accessible by clicking the Evernote button.

After finishing a book I open the task in RTM, add some extra notes in Evernote and I complete the task in RTM.

My RTM list shows all my unread books with book type and priority and extra information, when someone asks me for a book recommendation I open my Evernote notebook and it shows all my books with my personal notes.

Thanks for sharing this tip, mathieu.hubeek! 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: Improving memory with repeating tasks

Tuesday, September 10, 2013 by Andrew Conkling

It is said that there are three things that will help you remember something: repetition, repetition, and repetition. :) This week's tip, shared by donkiely, suggests simply using repeating tasks for retaining and memorizing something.

There are a few pieces of crucial information that I always want to have fresh in my mind, so that I can bring them up from memory without hesitation. This is particularly important when the information is not something I use very often, and I've found that RTM is the perfect way to make sure the information is fresh in my memory.

I got the idea the last time I took a CPR refresher course. The Red Cross and other agencies are constantly improving the CPR and choking procedures (the latter of which used to be called the Heimlich Maneuver) taught in the classes, and from year to year I had trouble remembering the current compression/breath counts and number of back blows and abdominal thrusts to use on someone choking.

So now I have a simple task in RTM that repeats monthly:

First Aid Reminder: 30:2 for CPR, 5 back blows & 5 abdominal thrusts for choking

(This was current as of the last time I took the class last year; you'll want to make sure it is still the recommended numbers.) Once a month I take a moment to re-commit the information to memory, and now I'm confident that if I'm ever in a situation where I need to perform CPR or help someone choking, I'll immediately remember the information even under stress. I won't waste time trying to remember or, worse, doing the procedures wrong.

That's even better than remembering the milk!

Thanks for sharing this tip, donkiely! 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: Tracking gift cards with location alerts

Tuesday, September 3, 2013 by Andrew Conkling

It's easy to tuck a gift card away, only to forget about it when you get to the store. Or you use part of one and have a balance left — but how much?

This week's tip, shared by libertyjohnson, suggests a nice way to keep track of your gift cards and their balances… and get an alert when you're near a store.

The gift of... Bob?

While getting my office sorted through using the GTD system recently, I came across several gift cards that still had small balances on them, some of which I had forgotten about for years. I gathered them all together, called to check balances and decided to tuck them into my wallet so I would have them with me while running errands. But how would I remember the cards and the balances when I was close to the related store?

Remember The Milk!

I input each card into RTM using @gc as a tag, and added the remaining balance for the gift card/store to the task's name – Target Gift Card – $8.97 balance, for example. I left them without due dates, if there was no penalty assessed when not using the card for an indefinite period of time. And I added a specific or general location for the respective store, saving them to a personal or shopping list, depending.

Turning GPS and Location Alerts on [in the Android app], when I am going to running errands, RTM alerts me when I am in proximity to the location I have a gift card for. If I have a need anything – cross referenced on my shopping list, I can use up the remaining balance on the gift cards before dipping into my budgeted funds.

I love the creative ways we can utilize RTM to help make our lives a bit easier and a lot more productive.

Thanks for sharing this tip, libertyjohnson! 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: Leveling up with achievements

Tuesday, August 27, 2013 by Andrew Conkling

Achievements in games are like icing on the cake as you play and can often help keep you coming back. This week's tip, shared by kittenrose, suggests a simple way to use them in everyday life, where they can be even more motivating! :)

So I'm a bit of losery gamer geek kinda person. And I am motivated purely by game style points and quests. ;) So here's the idea, you set tasks for things you want to achieve with the tag 'achievements'. Then you have two Smart Lists:

  1. Pending achievements. Mini self-set quests you've embarked on:
    status:incomplete and tag:achievements
  2. Achievements. A hall of fame of how awesome you are:
    status:completed and tag:achievements

Achievements can be anything from run 10km, to cooking a new dish. Whatever you want. But it's a nice little motivator to give yourself a few challenges. Particularly when you factor in that your challenges can have due dates. A bit of extra friendly pressure :)

Thanks for sharing this tip, kittenrose! 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