Wednesday, December 06, 2006

TampaGeek's take on MonkeyGTD

Take a look here. There are some pretty good ideas there, some of which I may steal. A quick poll: is Realm the best word? BJ prefers "Role" which I think may be closer to David Allen's terminology but just doesn't sound right to me.


Anonymous Daniel Baird said...

I do kind of like "Role", because it's a good description of the concept that Realms are supposed to embody -- "right now I'm acting in my employee role, so I need to be doing blah or blah.".

On the other hand, when you apply the label to an Action or whatever, the language doesn't make quite as much sense.. an Action doesn't have a Role. That's where Realm sounds better -- it makes more sense to say that an Action has a Realm.

I'm waiting for a compelling argument, I guess. Anyone got one? :)

10:03 PM PST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess here is my thinking, and some of it stems from the Covey 7 Habits or 8 Habits or whatever number he's up to now...

I think of that higher level (50K feet -- 15.24km) as the level of Role. For a role I have certain mid- to long-term goals and objectives, and a sort of "mission statement".

Under that role, at the 20K feet (6.1km) level are the Areas of Responsibility for that role. That is where the real action is starting to take place, and where projects and single actions go. Of course, multiple actions go under the project.

I never think of having an action at the Role level... it's always at the Area level. The Role concept is just a way to help me group the areas, and sort of keeps those goals and mid- or long-term plans in mind when I do that sort of monthly review. On a day-to-day basis or even for the weekly review, I don't usually look at things by role but by areas and projects.

In that sense, I guess role is sort of a super-area, and to some extent a project is kind of a sub-area. I don't really like the idea of having areas under areas or projects under projects... my old DBA days coming to haunt me, I suppose!

I'm working on a sort of class diagram (good ol' UML 2.0) for the basic GTD structure, and I'll post that out when I've got something worked up. But the basic idea is that you have the action at the bottom level (which can be specialized as being a tickler or an event), which can be owned by a context (MUST be owned by a context when it becomes a "next" action). Actions must also be owned by either a project or (for single actions) by an area. Areas are owned by roles. Roles and contexts are the two highest classes and aren't owned by anything else.

Don't know if that's the compelling argument, but it's the long-winded stream-of-consciousness thoughts on why I'm going that way!

3:34 AM PST  
Blogger Doree said...

Very nice... Is it possible to borrow some of this and apply it to my MonkeyGTD on Tiddlyspot?

Can you convert/upgrade data from one to the other?

Where's the calendar?

6:50 AM PST  
Blogger Scott said...

I like blue better but hey, red is your brand :o)
Role/Realm...doesn't really matter. To me, I'm in my role as an employee worker when I'm in my office realm. So a realm in my mind is similar to a context in that it is a location rather than a label attached to me.
I'm not very good yet at assigning areas or contexts. Simply having things out of my head into personal or professional is good enough for me at this point. I can see value in these other items especially as more things are entered into MGTD and the dashboard starts to fill out.

2:19 PM PST  
Anonymous xavier said...

Not answering to your poll... but I really loved the collapse + resort by dragging collapsed tiddlers feature.

5:04 PM PST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Scott really might have hit on what I've been thinking (just not able to articulate very well!). To me, the words "realm" and "context" all deal with the same sort of "domain" concept... where am I or under what conditions am I that I'm wanting to do some actions. Realm to me even has more of a physical connotation than context does. Role, on the other hand, is very much a personal attribute and describes the aspect of my life upon which the action will impact or to which the action relates.

So in my role of Father (for example) I could have an Area called Children's Education, with a project to teach Kevin (my son) to read. Under that project I have a next action to pick up more "Bob The Builder" and "The Wiggles" books at the library. That action would also be under my "Errands" context. Role, to me, just seems to fit better than saying my realm of Father... unless I can get Kevin to start addressing me as "Your Majesty"!

Okay, if you're not buying that...

From Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, role is defined using phrases such as "a character assigned or assumed" and "a function or part performed". Realm is defined first as a Kingdom, then as "sphere" or "domain" as in "within the realm of possibility". I suppose realm could be taken as "sphere of influence" but gosh darn it I just like role better.

Well, we can switch between M-D-Y and D-M-Y for dates, perhaps a switch between realm and role would work as well!!

7:27 PM PST  
Blogger simon said...

But would you want to segregate your GTD by "roles" such as Father? I don't think that's useful GTD-wise. If you want to group them make father an area of responsibility (an area in MGTD 2.1). The realm is really just a way to be able to keep my personal GTD and my work GTD separate. Think of it as like having two GTDs (but with the convenience of having them both in one file).

8:11 PM PST  
Anonymous Daniel Baird said...

The intention of Realm in mGTD, in a bare-bones sense, is to make sure the list of Actions you are looking at only includes things that you might actually do.

Contexts do a similar job, but
Simon and I both found that we had both personal and work stuff appearing inside a given Context. When The Man is paying me for my time, I shouldn't be distracted by seeing Actions like "Ask corporate electrician where to buy cable channel for home", even though the Context is "AtWorkPhone". In my lunch break I can do that Action, but not at 10am.

It seems like BJ's proposal for Role is more about a level of classification to use when doing high level reviews. That's important, and I want mGTD to support high-level planning and reviewing, but it's a different focus from the intention of Realms.

So, it seems there's two questions here:

-- does mGTD need a higher level of classification than Areas (Of Responsibility)?

-- is Realms a good name for what the current mGTD uses them for?

I think the answers are "maybe" and "yes" :)


8:44 PM PST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess my thoughts on roles and areas are probably "tainted" by past attempts at the (Franklin) Covey approach which is definitely a top-down method -- roles to areas to actions -- as opposed to GTD which is definitely bottom-up.

In Covey-land, roles like Parent, Spouse, Professional, and Friend are quite common (plus the old "Sharpen the Saw" to deal with that forgotten role of Self). So when I saw realms of Professional and Personal it just seemed logical that this was the equivalent. It goes back to my original comment about thinking of roles as the "super-area"... the role being the higher-level grouping of related areas of responsibility.

Let's be honest, though... the beautiful thing about all of this is that this isn't a right or wrong sort of thing... I'd hate to get stuck on the word for a element, I just want to be sure that the right elements are there. Calling it Role, Realm, Responsibility, or Area (with sub-Areas below it) really doesn't matter. (Heck, I'm not thrilled with the name "Project" for things that take more than one action, and if in my implementation I want to call it "Objective" there's nothing wrong with that.)

However mGTD is set up by default, I think the optimal solution is to let those labels be driven by personal configuration if possible. That way you can also address the problems associated with the cultural or linguistic impacts on the words used. (What "realm" means conceptually to an American will likely differ from what it means to a German, an Australian, a Lithuanian, etc.)

So, to Daniel's specific questions:

Is there a need for a higher-level of classification for Areas? Absolutely, positively, and definitely yes! (I know... "tell us how you REALLY think!") Whether that be a single fixed higher level, or allowing areas to have sub-areas, or both, achieves a similar result.

Is Realms a good name for what mGTD uses them for? Yes, if it makes sense to the person using it... unless another word makes more sense! (How's that for a wishy-washy answer?) To ME, if I wanted to group areas into a higher-level classification, I'd immediately think of that as a Role. If mGTD comes out calling that Realm, though, I'm totally cool with that; if it bothers me enough, I'll hack it up to change it, otherwise I'll simply translate it mentally whenever I see Realm used and move on!

I've set up a blog here on blogspot as well to try and start some discussion on the whole area of the GTD elements, kind of in an object-oriented approach (trying to keep the names of the objects out of the discussion!). It's located here, if you're interested... I'd welcome the participation (as soon as I get something out there, that is).

3:52 AM PST  
Anonymous jeff s said...

As a former 7 Habits junkie and a relative newbie to the GTD system, I can definitely understand both sides of the discussion. Because GTD is a nitty-gritty, bottom-up system, I think it makes a lot of sense to have a way to make a very clean, simple and distinct separation between work and non-work projects and tasks. Keep that highest level simple with only two options.

I see Areas of Responsibility in GTD serving the same function as Roles in the 7 Habits model. Within the Work environment, I may serve the roles of Manager and Salesperson. In the Non-Work environment, I may take on the roles of Father, Husband, Friend, Son/Sibling, Community Member, etc. I wouldn't necessarily want to use these Areas/Roles as filters for everyday in-the-trenches task management, but would want them for the 30-50k foot monthly review.

However the nomenclature shakes out, I'd love to see the tags trickle down through the various levels. Example: if I view the Professional dashboard and I create a new Project from within that dashboard, the new Project is automatically tagged as Professional. When I create a new Action from within that Project, it'd be great if the Professional tag could automatically carry through to the new Action instead of having to manually add it. I'm sure there are bigger fish to fry right now, but I thought I'd at least toss it out there :-)

Apologies for the really long post. I really appreciate all the work Simon, Daniel and team (and the community) have put into mGTD - it's a great tool.

6:19 AM PST  

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