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I bought a mac after 20 years of Windows and DOS. Now I am figuring out how to make my mac do everything I was doing on my PC. For the past few weeks I have been looking at how to replace MS-Outlook as a task management tool. After researching different task management software for macs, I have heard a lot about somebody called David Allen and the "Get things Done" (GTD) method. So I want to find out more about this, and how the GTD method differers (or is similar) to my own method for task management. I know practically nothing about GTD so I am looking for somebody to tell me what the differences are.

In Outlook I used several 'primary' categories ("groups") of tasks, these are 'exclusive' categories since all tasks are in one category only. I guess these primary categories would be the equivalent of contexts in OmniFocus. However, I also have a few 'secondary' categories, which I use to identify some tasks within the 'primary' categories. So then I have the ability to search on a secondary category name to see only those tasks belonging (i.e.: tagged)*to*the secondary category.

Outlook doesn't have the ability to make sub-tasks, so I am looking (finally) for something with more functionality, even though I could simply buy the OS X version of Office and save myself the the trouble of all this research.

Here is more detail about how I am organizing tasks.

Many years ago I attended a half day seminar about work productivity. I didn't absorb much from it but I remember they talked about dividing tasks into a four quadrant system with importance on one axis and time to complete on the other axis. So there are four categories that a task could be classified as:

1) Important - Long time to complete
2) Important - Short time to complete
3) Not important - Short time to complete
4) Not important - Long time to complete

The idea is that a person should prioritize tasks in the order shown above, with "Important - Long time to complete" the first tasks to work on, and 'Not important - Long time to complete' the last tasks to work on. It isnít a strict rule, but generally more time should be spent in the important - long time to complete quadrant.

So using this system I came up with the first four 'primary' categories to classify my tasks:

"To Do - Important - Long Tasks"
"To Do - Important - Short Tasks"
"To Do - Not Important - Short Tasks"
"To Do - Not Important - Long Tasks"

The categories hold various miscellaneous tasks for no specific project.

I separated tasks involving shopping in to similar categories as follows:

"To Buy - Important - Research Required"
"To Buy - Important - No Research Required"
"To Buy - Not Important - No Research Required"
"To Buy - Not Important - Research Required"

As above these categories hold various miscellaneous shopping tasks for no specific project.

I also have several categories for specific projects currently being worked on:

"To Do - Mom's Stuff" - these are tasks for things I do for my mother.
"To Do - Taxes" - tasks related to my personal income tax filings.
"To Do - Mutual Funds" - tasks related to a project I started working for mutual fund investing.
"To Do - Non Residency Preparation" - tasks related to a project to become a non-resident.
"To Do - Condo" - tasks related to a condominium that I own.
"To Do - Career/Education Related" - tasks related to my career or education.

A rather unusual thing about my job is that I work overseas, but I live in Canada. Most of the year I am overseas, but about five or six times per year I return to Canada for a week or two to take care of personal business. So I have some special recurring categories of tasks related to visits back in Canada (to make sure I don't forget to do something before returning overseas):

"To Do - Immediately"
"To Do - Three Days Before Departure"
"To Do - Two Days Before Departure"
"To Do - One Day Before Departure"
"To Do - On Departure Day"
"To Do - On or Shortly After Departure Day"

So the above are all of the 'primary' task categories that I have been using, which, as I mentioned, are exclusive with respect to each other, meaning a task only appears in one of these 'primary' categories at a time.

The few 'secondary' categories that I have been using are:

"Very Important" - tasks that I flag across all categories as most important of all.
"To Do - Only in Canada" - tasks that can only be done when I am in Canada.
"To Do - Only Overseas" - tasks that can only be done when I am overseas.
"To Do - Mom's Place" - tasks that can only be done in the town my mother lives in.
"To Do - Work Days" - tasks that can only be done during working hours during the week (like visiting a dentist for example).

As I mentioned, I use the 'secondary' categories to 'tag' tasks residing in the 'primary' categories so that I can bring up only those tasks belonging to the secondary category in a search.

Ok, so this is essentially how I have been organizing tasks for the last ten years. If I was to follow the GTD method, can you tell me how I would be organizing my tasks differently? If I knew the answer to this question I might see how I wouldn't need to use multiple categories, or tags, in a task management software that doesnít have this functionality, like Omni Focus.

Thanks for reading, if you got this far.

Can anyone help with this?
 
 


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