Big Rocks, Things, and More ALMOST Getting Things Done (Part 2) – and Annoyances

Welcome back. Part 2 of my dribbling. Here is how the rest of this actually went down. To start, I must say it’s been a nice to dive in and tinker with all of this.

My little experiment went too far. I admit creative defeat. Ok, not really, but the old standby method seemed to work just fine. I just created a recurring to-do, one for each day of the week, no due date or anything. Monday pops up on Monday, the rest are there but waiting in “Scheduled” which I can go to at any point.

Annoyances with Things

There are a-plenty right now after going through all of this. I realize the status of the software, and as someone who’s not reading their wiki and blog and forum, I’m sure some of these are addressed. But I’m finally working in a healthy direction – not lurking around other people’s problems, but discovering them on my own.

1) Continuing where I just left off with the recurring tasks in the “Scheduled” section, if I edit any of them there will there always be that change when it pops into “Today?” What if I put Notes in (which would be where the actual Big Rock items go) for a Monday, will those notes always pop up when Monday comes around? If I change the Notes section for Monday in the “Today” view, will the scheduled tasks also have these notes? Too many loose ends.

2) I also just deleted the Test batch of recurring to-dos (with due dates but all created on Sunday in this case) in “Scheduled” but they still were in “Next.” I deleted them in “Next” and they were still in the Big Rocks “Area.” SO, WHERE IS THEIR HOME???

I’m also a bit confused at how, well, loose, things are in Things. Though I am no programmer, it seems odd that a simple database would allow changes in one field to be updated (or not) in other areas. It seems that if I make changes to an entry pulled from “Today,” it won’t update all of them. I believe the same thing applies to making changes to entries when when the action originates from the “Organize” area. But how do I know where each item’s HOME is? If it’s a recurring item, but is in a project and/or area, Next, or Today, where to I make the change? It shouldn’t even be an issue, really. Dig?

3) Another small annoyance. Why is the “Log Completed” button only applicable to each screen? You have to log separately in the “Today” view or a Project view. There is some security in that, especially for a pack rat like myself, but now that I’m finally turning a corner and DOING, it’s just another step or hoop to jump through.

4) Another…request. I’ve created an @Waiting “Area” (aka context). When I put a due item in the @Waiting area, it stays in “Today” and is marked overdue. Yes, it’s overdue. Yes, it’s not completed. I still would like it to reside outside the Today focus. This is where Things does stray from a pure GTD app. I’ve read enough people posting about contexts not defining GTD and all that, but that’s just an argument to use the app. I’m not saying people shouldn’t use this app. I saying this is not pure GTD. And before your panties get in a bunch, I’m not even saying I want or need a pure GTD app.

Regardless, there’s nothing like actually diving into a program and creating your own form, function, or flow. I usually just find myself looking for what others do and following that. This (and this is my mantra – and a book and website coming out with this idea, too) feels different, so something is changing. (Said mantra is actually, “If it doesn’t feel different, you’re not changing it.” More on that later in other entries and another blog.) For the better, too.

Thanks for watching.

Big Rocks, Things, and More ALMOST Getting Things Done (Part 1)

It’s that time again. I have some “downtime” and I fill it up with websurfing, tinkering and tweaking systems…anything other than establishing and diving into My Practice (spiritual practice) during this time of great transition. But life will be kicking it up many notches in under a week, so now is the time to dial-in any altered or new systems.

What I’ve recently done is find the balance between a paper-based or computer-based system for my getting things done life. Starting my pre-doc internship in a couple weeks, I’m sure I’ll have to create a system for that “place,” too. Overall, I’m getting it. OmniFocus was too much of a techy solution, a distraction. iGTD used to be my choice, but I like what iGTD2 has to offer but I’m not running Leopard. Things used to seem like it wasn’t enough, but it’s simplicity has been helpful for me to de-tether from my computer. I’ve enjoyed taking notes via pen and paper, so I’m keeping that part alive and well, too. No export of any sort for Things?? Uggh, but that’s ok for now. I’m desiring an iPhone, but I’m not sure that’s going to happen just yet either. Kick me down an iTouch, someone!

Enough of that intro. What I’ve been trying to do is incorporate the Covey and ZTD Big Rocks theme into a GTD app. Using Things, I think I was on to something. Here is what I came across:

I can set a due date (or not) for a recurring to-do (like my Big Rocks idea). Now, I don’t have to. They will be created weekly if there are no due dates. If they have a due date, they will be due on their particular day, AND they can be created X days before they are due.

Therefore, if I have a weekly review day set, say a Sunday planning session set, I can set the create date to X days before so they all fall on the same day. For example, Monday’s will be created 1 day before, Tuesday’s 2 days before, and so on. Then on Sunday, they all pop up at the same time.

Regardless of the due date or not, I like only seeing one week’s worth of Big Rocks at a time, AND I also like have the week’s Big Rocks out at the same time.


I’m going to start experimenting with this for 2 weeks.This first week I’ll set:(1) No due dates, and (2) Create another dummy group of them with due dates.The second week I’ll (1) Keep the same thing and see if it gets screwed up.

Update 1: Hrmm…Problems so far:1) I see the “Test” to-do even though it’s supposed to be created next Sunday. Does this mean the NEXT to-dos are created this coming Sunday? Not sure if the default for Things is to create a to-do item as soon as it’s, well, created, versus being created for the first time at some point in the future.

Update 2: So it’s Sunday. And what’s in the “Today” focus area? All 5 Test Big Rock entries for the 5 days of the week. They have the correct tag, they have the correct amount of “days left” until due. BUT, what I really wanted was for them NOT to come up in the “Today” area unless it was, well, today. I don’t want to see Monday’s until Monday, although I do want it created and hanging in the “Next” area so I can review the week on Sunday or whenever. I want “Today” for DOING, not planning. Hence, only one day’s Big Rocks entry per day.

What I really want are two options where there is currently only one: The first would be to select if each copy has a due date. The second would be to then have it created X days before due. That way, it would be created, but not necessarily relative to when it is due, but…what?

Now, one plus that I’m realizing with these 5 “Today” entries looking at me: in terms of any type of weekly review done, say, “Today,” (multiple uses for “Today” – doing AND reviewing???), I have all of the days of the week just waiting to be filled in. But I suppose I don’t know what Big Rocks I’ll want to tackle for the rest of the week on Sunday. Hell, I can just look under “Next” and select my tag “Big Rocks” for the reviewing/planning.