favorite todo list programs?

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AndreasE
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Tue Jul 26, 2011 7:23 am Post

crimewriter wrote:Autofocus needs only a pen and notebook containing one long list of all the things you have to do, worked according to a simple set of rules.


Greetings, brother in mind! Yes, Autofocus is what I use, too. Cured me from CRIMP, too. And from GTD.

I'm now so deeply ingrained in the Pomodoro habit of working in 25-minute periods, then getting up from my chair and walking around for 2 or 3 minutes before sitting down again, that when I broke my timer last month I found myself ridiculously put out until the replacement arrived through the post.


I've heard about Pomodoro, but I couldn't get myself to actually do it, yet. What you write encourages me to maybe give it another try.

BTW, I've read Dan Brown follows a similar routine, only that he works for 55 minutes and then exercises for 5 minutes. Might not be the main reason for his success, but something to consider nevertheless.

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Vermonter17032
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Tue Jul 26, 2011 12:57 pm Post

AndreasE wrote:
crimewriter wrote:Autofocus needs only a pen and notebook containing one long list of all the things you have to do, worked according to a simple set of rules.


Greetings, brother in mind! Yes, Autofocus is what I use, too. Cured me from CRIMP, too. And from GTD.


I'm afraid you can never be "cured" from your CRIMP, you can only work to manage it. :wink:

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AndreasE
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Tue Jul 26, 2011 1:40 pm Post

Vermonter17032 wrote:
AndreasE wrote:
crimewriter wrote:Autofocus needs only a pen and notebook containing one long list of all the things you have to do, worked according to a simple set of rules.


Greetings, brother in mind! Yes, Autofocus is what I use, too. Cured me from CRIMP, too. And from GTD.


I'm afraid you can never be "cured" from your CRIMP, you can only work to manage it. :wink:


Admitted. It's similar to alkoholism. Constant effort to stay clean and sober. And organized, too.

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supenguin
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Tue Jul 26, 2011 6:18 pm Post

Vermonter17032 wrote:I'm afraid you can never be "cured" from your CRIMP, you can only work to manage it. :wink:


I think I'm proof of that. For a while, I decided I spend too much time messing with all this productivity software and was going to go all paper. I spent the next 6 months trying to find the perfect planner including spending WAAAY too much time on http://www.diyplanner.com

For now I've settled on Moleskine, Rhodia, or whatever notebook appeals to me at the time for a journal and then Levenger Circa for my planner. This allows me to tinker with my planner set up without buying too much more stuff as I pretty much have everything I need for a great Circa planner/notebook. At this point my tinkering is limited to which sections are in a notebook and in what order.

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crimewriter
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Tue Jul 26, 2011 7:29 pm Post

Greetings, brother in mind! Yes, Autofocus is what I use, too. Cured me from CRIMP, too. And from GTD.


Greetings, AndreasE, but from a sister-in-mind, actually!

It's easy to forget that the point of all that time-planning is not to find the perfect system but rather to get the novel written while leaving time to chat to friends, go to choir practice and go out for a walk when the sun is shining.

cw
Some quiet night when you've shirked your work because of fatigue or distraction, open a window of your house and listen. Do you hear that distant clicking sound? That's one of your competitors, pecking away at his keyboard in Paris or London or Erie, PA

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Siren
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Wed Jul 27, 2011 8:50 am Post

What makes me laugh (in a wry, world-weary way) is the endless tweaking that any system invites -- even paper systems like AutoFocus. You only have to look at the blog (http://www.markforster.net/blog/) of the chap who came up with AutoFocus to see the evidence: first came AutoFocus, which was later tweaked into different versions (up to AF4) and which is now superseded by SuperFocus.

For me, it boils down to my mindset rather than the system I am using at the time. If I am in the mood to complete tasks and be productive, it doesn't seem to matter in the slightest which system I am using to manage the workload because all of them seem to be effective and helpful, even the most basic of lists. On the other hand, if I am in the mood to procrastinate and dodge my duties, no system on earth can make me be truly productive (as opposed to just going through the motions). Besides, if it really is important that I do something, then I generally remember that I have to do it, so I don't need a system to tell me so; if it isn't important, then a system is jolly useful for keeping on top of it, but I have to ask myself why I am so keen to manage activities which it is not important that I do.

Of course, this realisation doesn't stop me from optimistically setting up systems and fiddling with them endlessly... ;)
Last edited by Siren on Tue Aug 02, 2011 6:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
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cycladic
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Tue Aug 02, 2011 2:25 am Post

I use Autofocus--I forget which iteration--maybe the second one? The version that has "above the line" and "below the line." I have a very simple, custom implementation of my Autofocus list on OmniFocus, which is just a terrific app. In OmniFocus, I also keep custom lists--someday/maybe, travel checklists, lists of supplies and suppliers for the courses I teach, etc.

The brilliant thing about OmniFocus, for me, is that I can keep the interface clean and simple, but I can sync my todo list with my iPhone and iPad. Having an up to date todo list always accessible has made my life less stressful and my work time more productive.

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AmberV
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Tue Aug 02, 2011 3:17 am Post

For myself, any system that I use is essentially a mental backup for when I’m in a “down cycle”. I have very extreme six to eight months cycles of hyper-productivity countered by just doing whatever I need to do and spending the rest of my time in a more leisurely fashion. Catching up on the arts; sitting out on the porch; getting back into photography or sketching; playing video games; or what have you. In those rest-periods, I don’t tend to keep up with any kind of organisation, no matter how simple it is, paper based or whatever. So my big list is really more of a way to reboot my brain when the performance-period hits. It performs a brief function in that role, lasting for about a month or two. After that point, I’m usually revved up in full scale workaholic mode and my “to do” list 9 times out of 10 exists nowhere except in my brain.

In this state I usually thread my main work with optimising the mental catch nets, like examining the to do system for tweaks; fiddling with my archive; and anything else auxiliary like that which will serve as a low-bandwidth catch-all for the inevitable rest-period on the horizon. At the peak of my performance-period, I’m usually inventing and doing at the same time, so I often don’t do any recording in to do lists—it’s a waste of time because nearly every waking moment is focussed on what I’m doing and I’ll be done with things in the time it takes to plan them, in many cases. In the waning of the cycle, I am quite aware of it and start spending more time on the meta. Making sure I write down my thoughts for various projects using the system I’ve freshly tweaked a half year prior. I don’t have much warning when I hit the rest-period. I’ll wake up one day and realise that I’ve really done nothing for a week, I usually fight it for a month, trying to force myself to be productive, but eventually I “get it”, again. From that point on, the to do list is pretty much in Inbox mode. I rarely sort anything out or do much with it except for the necessities. Same goes for my archival and journalling. Stuff just accumulates in the Inbox, and that is fine because I tend to generate far less material in the rest-cycle, and all of my years of tuning to these systems have been very much designed with this cyclical pattern in mind. The filing and organising methods are practically automatic, so even if I’m in a state where I don’t care and just want to enjoy life, it’s pretty easy for my systems to keep on ticking in the background.

So I have a strange relationship with ToDo software or methods. It’s really more for the twilight areas when I’m in reboot phase, and as a way to lose good ideas when I’m not actively doing things from the early morning to the very early morning the next night. ;)

The main exception is my professional duties. I keep all of that in a separate to do list because it can’t go in cycles like that, and so I don’t want it to be subjected to the wax and wane of my personal projects, and likewise I don’t want to subject the personal list to a steady onward movement. Things usually filter downward into the professional list. I don’t do much innovation in them, and CRIMP really isn’t a problem. I let the good ideas, the ones that have stuck for at least two high-performance cycles, filter down into the mechanisms of the professional lists. This way they do not suffer from high-speed mind changes and other fanciful things.

I think it is a very effective way of finding a person best-practice, and a good place to focus it on. Having a test-bed system that is used for real stuff, in contra to a stable system that is also used for real stuff as well (and helps keep me fed, so is ultimately more important).

I have a very simple, custom implementation of my Autofocus list on OmniFocus, which is just a terrific app.


I’d be curious to hear how you accomplish that. When I first heard of AutoFocus, my mind when to Circus Ponies. It seems its page-based metaphor would be idea for the system. How do you accomplish the page method in an endless-stream system like OmniFocus?

AutoFocus kinds of scares me in the same way that pure GTD does. It always seems like the things that I do need more project-oriented cohesion than systems that dispense small tasks from all over the place. What purpose is there in waiting for a page to go by before I “Upload to FTP” after having created a screenshot? Yet combining activities into compound actions are something many of these systems highly discourage.
.:.
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Tripper
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Thu Aug 11, 2011 6:56 pm Post

I have moved back to paper after years of trying software. I have a notebook (yes a Moleskine) which gives me a tactile satisfaction I just can't get with software. I love to be able to CROSS THINGS OUT. I have a general to do list and pages for projects. I also use stickies and those little coloured markers to divide the notebook. To be honest, moving to a notebook has been a great relief. Now all I have to find is the prefect pen with which to write in it. :wink:
The person who says it can't be done should not interrupt the person doing it.

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crimewriter
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Thu Aug 11, 2011 7:32 pm Post

Oh, Tripper, don't get me started! At one time I would buy only black fountain pens with gold nibs, but now I have discovered lovely Japanese pens with iridium-tipped nibs and barrels in jazzy colours and. . . :lol:

I have to say that none of them works particularly well in a Moleskine since the paper is too absorbent. But Clairefontaine paper, now, and even Pukka notepads, well, the pen slides over the page as quickly as I can write. Ink? Diamine Damson, an intense black with a hint of. . . damson. For a pen that's always ready and never dries out, that writes perfectly well in a Moleskine and is cheap enough to lose, there's the Preppy. If you're in the UK you can get one online, including p and p, for less than £4. When I'm feeling rich I shall buy a Pilot Capless, which clicks open and shut like a biro. I could sell my Mont Blanc, my Parker and my Pelikan (all black with gold nibs) to pay for it.

Perhaps by now you've noticed that you've touched on one of my obsessions.

When I've found the perfect notebook (hardback, smooth paper) and pen (extra fine nib to fit my small, spiky handwriting, generous ink-flow to keep up with my speed of thought) I shall be able to organise my life and write my great novel.

By the way, Autofocus isn't designed for projects, but for all the rest of the stuff you have to do. I write my books in set blocks of time, morning and afternoon, then use Autofocus to remind me to pick up my library book, phone my daughter, complete my tax return and do all the things that keep my flat civilised.

cw
Some quiet night when you've shirked your work because of fatigue or distraction, open a window of your house and listen. Do you hear that distant clicking sound? That's one of your competitors, pecking away at his keyboard in Paris or London or Erie, PA

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Tripper
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Thu Aug 11, 2011 7:48 pm Post

@crimewriter At the moment I'm using the Pilot B-Tec C4 which is the finest tip I can find. Many Moleskine users swear by the Pilot G2. The Pilot Capless looks great. I want one too!
The person who says it can't be done should not interrupt the person doing it.

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crimewriter
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Thu Aug 11, 2011 8:12 pm Post

@Tripper: My finest nibbed pen, with a good inkflow, is a Sailor Reglus F. Sailor nibs are notoriously finer than their European equivalents, but they do make an EF as well. I imagine you need fingers like a spider's to write with it.

I'm envious of your Pilots. I shall do another Pomodoro on my novel this evening so that I can buy myself a new pen. Soon.

cw
Some quiet night when you've shirked your work because of fatigue or distraction, open a window of your house and listen. Do you hear that distant clicking sound? That's one of your competitors, pecking away at his keyboard in Paris or London or Erie, PA

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Hugh
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Thu Aug 11, 2011 9:42 pm Post

For my Moleskine I use a Pilot Birdie fountain pen — inexpensive, unscratchy and small enough to be strapped to the notebook with a red elastic band, which in the UK is free because they are used and discarded in large numbers on the pavements of the nation by postmen... Sadly though, I think the Birdie is no longer available.

cw, you might perhaps like this:

Image
'Listen, some quiet night, when you've shirked your work that day. Do you hear
that distant, almost inaudible clicking sound? That's one of your
competitors, working away in the night in
Paris or London or Erie, PA.'

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supenguin
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Thu Aug 11, 2011 11:42 pm Post

Fountain pens are another addiction of mine.

I'll throw in another vote for the Pilot Vanishing Point. The write great, they are super-convenient since they are retractable fountain pens. I think anyone into fountain pens should definitely have one of those at least.

I've also grown to really like Lamy pens. Their budget line pens - the Safari, Vista and Al-Star - write like a much more expensive pen. They also have the CP1 and a couple others that are super-slim pens great for planners. And then there is the Lamy 2000 which has a hooded nib, writes great, and is piston fill so holds lots of ink.

Noodler's 4.5 oz ink bottle with the eyedropper fill pens are also great. They write wonderfully and since the whole body of the pen holds ink, you can write practically forever with them. I recently bought a bottle of Heart of Darkness with the clear eyedropper pen and it works great.

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bargonzo
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Fri Aug 12, 2011 12:35 am Post

I'll throw in a vote for Lamy--I have a 2000 which I love, and bought a very inexpensive Safari that writes as smoothly as much more expensive pens. I also have to recommend the Gate City "Belmont," which uses a syringe filler that makes it very easy to quickly change inks, and I have a couple different nibs for it to suit my mood. I get my pens generally from http://www.richardspens.com/ (no affiliation). They make sure the nibs are writing right before they ship them, and will grind you a specialty nib for a very reasonable price (xxxf for spidery fingers).

As for writing paper--I did a lot of research and testing. As was said above, Moleskine is just too absorbent for fountain pen writing, although I like their journals otherwise. Right now I've stocked up on a supply of "Ecoeasy" notebooks from Staples, of all places. They are made from sugarcane, of all things, and I found them by searching a lot of websites for recommended fountain-pen paper, and it came in with good reviews. I've been very pleased with it. Plus, it's inexpensive (especially compared to Moleskine and Clairefontaine). For a Moleskine-like journal, I've discovered the Leuchtturm1917, which offers a "Dots Notebook" (with dots instead of lines, which are very subtle), and the paper works great with fountain pens.

Inks? I use Noodler's as well. I have a variety of colors, but my favorites right now are a bright blue "Baystate Blue" and a nice vintage blue-black called "Air Corps."

I'm currently lusting after a Pilot Vanishing Point as well--wanted the "Stealth" color that was offered a few months ago, but couldn't justify the expense.
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