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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?
 
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/...-tickler-file/
 
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...
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by vocaro
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
 
Does this differ from setting an item's start date to some point in the future?

Last edited by Ken Case; 2007-03-06 at 11:53 AM..
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpiralOcean
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.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SpiralOcean
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.

Last edited by vocaro; 2007-03-06 at 11:18 PM..
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Case
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.

Last edited by vocaro; 2007-03-06 at 02:28 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?)
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Case
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.
 
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.)
 
 


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