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vocaro
2007-03-05, 10:26 AM
There must be over a dozen Mac apps that claim to be GTD-centric, and I've tried at least half of them. This morning it struck me that despite all the bells and whistles I've seen in these apps, I've yet to encounter a single one that implements David Allen's 43 folders concept (a.k.a. tickler file).

With all the folder metaphors we see on today's desktops, I'd have thought that the simple 43 folders concept could be very naturally and elegantly implemented in software. Having 43 folders in software would also alleviate the only complaint I've seen people make about having to maintain so many folders: too much paper shuffling.

Has anyone ever seen such a feature in a GTD app? And does anyone know whether OmniFocus will have such a feature?

SpiralOcean
2007-03-06, 05:38 AM
The concept of having 43 folders is not about having folders... it's about mailing yourself something in the future. In the book, Allen mentions that some people use a calendar for the folders. The calendar, or a with the task management software, a due date or appearing date can often function as the 43 folders.

The main principle for the 43 folders is how do you deal with physical items that you want to be reminded of in the future.

In the electronic world, I don't get that many emails of something that I need to look at in the future that I can't just add to my task management software to be reminded of in the future. It's the beauty of digital.

If you want a tickler file for mac mail:
http://www.hawkwings.net/2005/12/01/applescript-to-create-and-run-a-gtd-tickler-file/

SpiralOcean
2007-03-06, 06:34 AM
I nice feature to have would be for OmniFocus to link to files/emails on my computer. Then I could schedule to look at a certain file on a certain day. The task comes up, click on a link, the file comes up...

tacartwright
2007-03-06, 11:19 AM
With all the folder metaphors we see on today's desktops, I'd have thought that the simple 43 folders concept could be very naturally and elegantly implemented in software.

I totally agree. Iíve implemented a simple system in kGTD, but it still requires a fair amount of manual maintenance.

What I want is a system that just dumps items from the 43 folders into my Inbox, just as described in the GTD book. Except I want it to be smart enough to do this for every day and month folder that has come due since the last time I used the application. This is simple stuff, easy for a program to do.

Omni, what sayest thou?

ó Tim

Ken Case
2007-03-06, 11:33 AM
Does this differ from setting an item's start date to some point in the future?

vocaro
2007-03-06, 01:20 PM
The concept of having 43 folders is not about having folders... it's about mailing yourself something in the future.

I understand what it's about. I just haven't seen any faithful implementations of the concept in GTD software.

The calendar, or a with the task management software, a due date or appearing date can often function as the 43 folders.

Using a calendar for 43 folders breaks the GTD philosophy. David Allen is very specific that calendars shouldn't be used for reminders, only for "hard" events like a meeting schedule. The point of 43 folders is to keep your calendar clean and keep those "ticklers" out of sight until you can actually act on them.

As for a due date in GTD software, there are two problems with this. First, lots of GTD software doesn't allow you to attach files to an action or event, so you can't mail yourself something, you can only mail yourself short reminders. So it's not the same thing as having 43 folders of "physical" ticklers.

And second, even if you can attach a file to a reminder and give it a "tickle" date, the GTD software I've seen doesn't do a good job of hiding that reminder until it's time to act on it. Having actual 43 folders does this better because you can pull out only today's folder and leave the others in a drawer, out of sight.

vocaro
2007-03-06, 02:26 PM
Does this differ from setting an item's start date to some point in the future?

It's not quite the same thing. Yes, it's an approximation, especially if the software allows files to be attached to an item. But what I'd expect to find in a "true" GTD app is actual 43 folders: Somewhere in the user interface, there'd be 43 folders that actually hold my tickler files. I could click around the folders to see their contents, but by default the app would just show the ticklers for the current day, keeping the others out of the way until I need them.

One of the nice things about this approach is that there are folders corresponding to the months of the year. For example, I might download a Disneyland brochure and think, "Maybe I should go there this summer," not knowing the exact date I want to go. Well, with the item approach, I'd have to create the item, choose a specific date, and type up a description. But with 43 folders, I could just drag-and-drop the PDF into July's folder! Very simple.

Another nice benefit is that if there are actual folders in the interface, I can change the tickler date just by dragging a file and dropping it into a different folder. That seems very Mac-like and GTDish to me.

Anyway, I'm surprised no GTD app has implemented something like that, given that 43 folders is a basic tenet of David Allen's approach.

Ken Case
2007-03-06, 03:16 PM
How different is that from setting the start date to "this summer" and having it show up on July 1?

I use 43 folders in my filing system at home, but I've always thought it was a physical compromise of that system that I couldn't decide today that something should show up on July 5 rather than July 1. (But perhaps it's actually an under-appreciated feature?)

vocaro
2007-03-06, 03:33 PM
How different is that from setting the start date to "this summer" and having it show up on July 1?

Too many steps. I have to create a new item, specify a date, type a description, and attach the file. With the 43 folders metaphor, I can just drag and drop the file onto the right folder.

And I like the idea of collecting/viewing far-off ticklers into monthly groups, as in the 43 folders approach. Most apps will allow you to view the action items for a given day, but I haven't seen any that can do "Show me the action items for April."

Also, how does one set a date to "this summer"? I never knew any apps had that ability.

Ken Case
2007-03-06, 03:49 PM
Thanks! I think I understand what you're after now.

(The "this summer" example was just hypothetical. Though you can enter a date of "next July" in Kinkless.)

SpiralOcean
2007-03-07, 06:15 AM
Using a calendar for 43 folders breaks the GTD philosophy. David Allen is very specific that calendars shouldn't be used for reminders, only for "hard" events like a meeting schedule. The point of 43 folders is to keep your calendar clean and keep those "ticklers" out of sight until you can actually act on them.


refresher...

page 173
"One elegant way to manage nonactionable items that may need an action in the future is the "tickler" file. A three-dimensional version of a CALENDAR, it allows you to hold PHYSICAL reminders of things that you want to see or remember--not now, but in the future.
...
Essentially the tickler is a simple file-folder system that allows you to distribute paper and other physical reminders in such a way that whatever you want to see on a particular date in the future "automatically" shows up that day in your in-basket"
----------------------

page 171
"Your calendar can be a very handy place to park reminders of things you MIGHT want to consider doing in the future. Most of the people I've coached were not nearly as comfortable with their calendars as they could have been; otherwise they probably would have found many more things to put in there.
...
If you have a project that you don't really need to think about now but that deserves a flag at some point in the future, you can pick an appropriate date and put a reminder about the project in your calendar for that day.
...
...when the day arrives, you see the reminder and insert the item as an active project on your "Projects" list.


The tickler file is for physical items.
I understand your point about the metaphor, and it can be nice to have a folder to drop an email into that you need to be reminded of at a certain date. And there are no electronic task management systems that use an inbox metaphor to place tasks into.

Also, when David Allen wrote the book, computers were at a different technological place. Which is why he stayed away from specific device examples. This is unfortunate, and the largest thing I see lacking in the book... some real world examples.

If the system you are using is water tight, you should be able to put a reminder into it and have it pop up in your electronic inbox that you need to respond to this email.

The main problem with electronic task management is the task is separate from the email or file. So I see the task or calendar reminder, I have to go find the email to respond to, or the file I need to update and send.

Thus... if there was a link to the email or file inside the task, the task reminds me, I click on the link, and do the action.

BwanaZulia
2007-03-08, 11:38 AM
43 Folders is one of the few things that I have not been able to figure out how to do on the Mac, electronically. Sure, I could create folders on my desktop, or something like that but like Spiral is saying, it should be VERY easy to drop ideas into month, day or even year buckets and have those pop up or "move to the front" when you hit that month.

BZ

yucca
2007-03-10, 04:45 PM
For those of you who use DEVONthink with one of the GTD templates, you already have this functionality. If you get the pro office version (DTPO), you recycle your 43 folders, and your paper filing system turns into an archive (stuff where orginal paperwork is required for legal or sentimental purposes). Also, your stuff in your DTPO 43 folders is fully searchable and integrated with your entire reference system.

However, DTPO does not offer the functionality to efficiently process stuff and maintain lists. It is superb as a reference system, but that is it. I copy stuff from my electronic 43 folders (usually just a subject heading) into kGTD when they need to be scheduled or when they become NAs.

DTPO has some scripts that automate getting stuff into DTPO, and similar scripts could be used to feed stuff into OF. It would be cool if I could then get an attachment in OF into DTPO when I close the project or task. Of course, I am assuming that Omni doesn't want to add electronic reference system functionality to OF! ;)

vocaro
2007-03-31, 05:09 PM
For example, I might download a Disneyland brochure and think, "Maybe I should go there this summer," not knowing the exact date I want to go. Well, with the item approach, I'd have to create the item, choose a specific date, and type up a description. But with 43 folders, I could just drag-and-drop the PDF into July's folder! Very simple.

I just discovered a new app called iGTD (http://www.tuaw.com/2007/03/31/igtd-gtd-quicksilver-powerful-app/). It doesn't have explicit 43 folders, but it does support a drag-and-drop approach to creating tasks, as described in the feature list (http://bargiel.home.pl/iGTD/).

pvonk
2007-04-05, 11:32 AM
I just discovered a new app called iGTD (http://www.tuaw.com/2007/03/31/igtd-gtd-quicksilver-powerful-app/). It doesn't have explicit 43 folders, but it does support a drag-and-drop approach to creating tasks, as described in the feature list (http://bargiel.home.pl/iGTD/).

After using (and buying some of) Thinking Rock, EasyTask, Ghost Action, kGTD, inBox (talk about bugs!), I recently tried iGTD and find it the best for my workflow. I use it in conjunction with Quicksilver, MailTags (and Mail), and my Palm and works beautifully! It does have a few missing things like subProjects, but they're coming (and I'm not sure I need them). Using MailTags to set a due date and make an email an iCal to-do, iGTD syncs this into its database from iCal and retains the link to the email. You can also include links to files and URLs.

For now, that's my GTD app - but I'm looking forward to OmniFocus.

- Pierre

Bob Nahasapeemapetilon
2007-04-06, 02:51 AM
iGTD was pretty much useless to me. I like the authorís responsiveness, but the program is far from being a good GTD implementation. At least the last version I tried had not yet implemented Delegate/Waiting For features. I prefer Thinking Rock, and canít wait for version 2.

omnibob
2007-07-29, 09:23 AM
Now that I'm really starting to cook with OF, I'm revisiting my use of electronic 43 folders. I found this thread with a wealth of info on the topic, but the last post was in early April, so I thought I'd ask what people think about this now with lots more OF use under your collective belts.

Specifically, I've had three set of 43 folders going for about a year. 1) Physical; 2) Finder folders; 3) (IMAP) OS X Mail folders. I'm going to stick with the physical ones, they work well for me. I'm on the fence about Finder folders, but the Mail ones are slightly kludgey in that I can't arrow through them (must click), and I can't expose all the contents of all the folders the way I can in the Finder (useful when I fall off the wagon and need to get caught up quickly).

I'm considering just having one "Deferred" Mail folder, and use OF Actions with a set date to remind me to access the files/s (or use OF to attach file/s). If this works, I may do the same for the Finder. The philosophical underpinnings of GTD with respect to deferred items has been pretty well covered here -- for those using OF to track deferred items, how are you finding it (including comparing to electronic 43 folders if you had been using them)?

Bob

curt.clifton
2007-07-29, 01:13 PM
The philosophical underpinnings of GTD with respect to deferred items has been pretty well covered here -- for those using OF to track deferred items, how are you finding it (including comparing to electronic 43 folders if you had been using them)?

I gave up paper 43 folders and just use files for archives with electronic reminders. I'm using start dates in OmniFocus for ticklers. My evening review includes looking at remaining actions, grouped by start day. The new actions show up under "Tomorrow". This has streamlined my monthly reviews and made also made my daily reviews more portable.

MEP
2007-07-29, 01:36 PM
I tried using the tickler for a while. I found it totally useless, but I know how some people really rely on theirs. As far as making a digital 43 folders as a tickler, that seems like a terrible idea to me. The use of 43 folders in the physical world is a compromise for what we want. Computers can do it so much better without stooping to the "folder" metaphor.

The closest thing I have to a tickler would be remind (and I do have tasks with start dates in the future in OF too). Put remind's output on the desktop with Geektool and use it to remind myself of things in the future. As far as linking files, emails or whatnot to the reminder itself, I just have a well organized home folder and Quicksilver (I can find whatever I need without remembering where I put it).

There's no real compelling reason to overcomplicate this process. If I want to be reminded of something on the thirteenth of May, I don't want to put it in the "13" folder under the "May" folder in some half-assed digital imitation of a file cabinet. I just want to put it someplace where on the thirteenth of May, it will pop up on my desktop and remind me. Why should I dig through a digital tickler file when my PC can do it for me?

markbrown00
2007-07-29, 02:40 PM
I don't see myself ever using 43 folders (real or virtual), however, I have been using Hazel and an applescript to create various kinds of drop-folders in the finder that send tasks to OF.

See this thread:

http://forums.omnigroup.com/showthread.php?t=4208

That applescript could be easily modified to set the start date based on the folder name...although, I can't see how that would be overly efficient.