Monday, February 05, 2007

On checklists

David Allen says he has loads of checklists and he uses them every day. I have one or two myself. So how could MonkeyGTD manage checklists? Daniel and I were just having this discussion and I thought I would share our conclusions.

Idea 1 - Checklists are snippets you can paste into the quick entry box.
Suppose you have a party checklist. Create a tiddler called "Party Checklist". (Tag it as "Checklist" to make it easy to find later). Enter some actions in .action name format, ie the format used by the "Process Inbox" quick entry box. Here's an example:
.Decide on guestlist|Home
.Send invites|Email|F
.Buy beer|Errand
.Buy snacks|Errand
.Setup stereo|Home|F
Now suppose you are having a party you can go to the quick entry box and type:
Party Feb 17|Friends
then find your checklist tiddler and copy and paste the contents underneath the above. Click create these items to create. Now your checklist is converted into a project with actions. The next time you have a party you can do it the same way perhaps refining the checklist each time you notice something extra is required. The problems with this is that because each tiddler must be uniquely named you could only have one party at a time, ie you would have to delete the old party actions to create a new one. Also I think that in many cases you want your checklist to be more lightweight that a full-blown project with actions. This leads to...

Idea 2 - Checklists are just text you can paste into body of an action (or project)
This time create a tiddler called "Travel Checklist". (Again tag as checklist so you can find it later). In there enter the following:
* Passport
* Tickets
* Sunglasses
* Money
* Credit cards
* Towel
* Ear plugs
* Phone
* Phone charger
* etc...
Now when you are actually travelling you can create an action "Pack for trip". Edit it and copy and paste in the above into the body of the tiddler (aka notes). Better yet just use the include a tiddler macro like this:
<<tiddler "Travel Checklist">>
This will include the contents of your checklist in the notes. Now Daniel points out that this way you won't have the satisfaction of clicking a little checkbox for each item on your list. I replied that you could print it and use a pen. Or you could just do it mentally. (I think this example is a list that your brain could processes easily enough).

(I also suggested to Daniel that if he installed Eric's CheckboxPlugin from he could probably have a lightweight checklist with those satifying checkboxes). So anyway I think both of these ideas have merit and are probably useful depending on the situation. I think my own use of checklists is more likely to be lightweight like the one in idea 2. What about you?


Blogger Eddie said...

Well it's funny because I've been through a lot of variations on this very subject. Having read the GTD book and started using the GodSend MonkeyGTD application I was trying very hard to get David's theory into this fancy schmancy tool.

Anyway I won't bore you with the methods I used but in the end Idea 2 is exactly what I do. With the exception of:

- if the item is going to take more than 2 minutes I create an Action
- if I have to wait on some external process, I also create an action and append a WAIT status key to the end (more on this below)
- if the item is going to take less than 2 minutes of MY time I just do the action without creating an Action tiddler.

I also actually create the list items using [[double brackets]] or CamelCase so I can click on any item and be taken to that action tiddler

Here is an example BuyJuicer Project, with KEY template at the end. I add this KEY to the end of all projects so I can quickly update each item with a colourful easy-to-read status. You have to see it in a Tiddler to appreciate it.

*[[Investigate juicers]]@@font-weight:bold;color:#00f; - DONE@@
*[[Source chosen juicer]]@@font-weight:bold;color:#00f; - DONE@@
*[[Allocate funds]]@@font-weight:bold;color:#f60; - WAIT@@
**Waiting for Bonus.
*[[Buy juicer]]

@@font-weight:bold;color:#f00; - HOLD@@
@@font-weight:bold;color:#0f0; - ACTION@@
@@font-weight:bold;color:#f60; - WAIT@@
@@font-weight:bold;color:#00f; - DONE@@

Obviously in a Tiddler this looks good, showing only formated text minus the markup.

Another thing I do is, any information relating to the Action I would put in the notes field of that action in case I had to refer back to it at any point. Any small bullet points or notes on a non-action item (less than 2 mins) I would indent under the listed action. As in the example.

I'm glad you guys came to the same conclusions. Makes me feel better knowing I'm on the right track.

4:39 AM PST  
Blogger simon said...

But aren't you duplicating stuff that's in the Project dashboard?

5:22 PM PST  

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