Notes on stuff

Tagged Posts: ResultsManager

The boundaries of GTD

Ton Zijlstra has some provoking thoughts about the limitations of GTD-like systems :Ton’s Interdependent Thoughts: Thoughts on GTD System Weaknesses

In short, Ton highlights the increasing need to apply qualitative (and often social- and/or network-based) approaches to filter the info-glut before you can start putting actions into a GTD-like process.

I think he’s spot on, and it made me think a little more analytically about my personal organisation system, loosely-based on GTD, but heavily reliant on the capabilities of MindManager enhanced by ResultsManager.

ResultsManager adds a project– and action-planning capability to MindManager by allowing any topic in any mind-map to be tagged with task-related metadata, and further, the ability to define “dashboard” maps which cut across the information, pulling together a view based on whatever criteria the dashboard author chooses.

In the most GTD-like aspects of the process, this makes it easy to create a mindmap of “Today’s Next Actions” across all of my projects, but the filtering capabilities are very powerful and allow many other views to be created.

Key aspects of this system which, I think, go some way to addressing the issues Ton raises are:

  • Ability to store, manipulate and interpret information within the context of a given project or concern, yet pull out and record cross-links;
  • Clear signalling of which ideas do not have any current “Next Action”, and which therefore may need further thought to continue developing actionable sense;
  • An easy way top bring in external information sources – for example by using a MindManager map part to import the content of an RSS feed, I can connect this information management system to my wider information-gathering and filtering processes.

Ton’s closing challenge is for a system to present patterns about activity that could in turn become “inbox” items – this definitely needs further thought, but my intuition is that a combination of tagging and feed-derivation could take some kind of a log for re-ingest to the “machine”.

Getting Things Done with Mindmanager, ResultsManager, GyroQ, and now MindReader

I’ve used Mindmanager as my core information-management tool at work for several years. For the last few months I have also been using it as the underlying support for my “GTD-like” personal productivity processes, augmented with the excellent ResultsManager add-in from Gyronix.

ResultsManager is very powerful, I particularly like the way it allows me to have a mindmap per project, yet pull all of my “Next Actions” into a single Dashboard mind map. However to exploit this power requires the capture of several pieces of information for each action item.

This is where another Gyronix product comes in – GyroQ – this provides a hot-keyable place to capture odd thoughts without breaking flow, queueing them for later addition to a set of ResultsManager mindmaps.

One of the great things about GyroQ is that the tag-based interface allows end-users (with the approprioate developer licence) to extend the functionality of the tool.

The most active contributor of new tags and macros is the anonymous ActivityOwner, who is both active on the Gyronix support forums and runs an excellent website packed with hints, tips, and example GyroQ tags, MindManager macros, and ResultsManager dashboards.

Latest offering from ActivityOwner that I’ve grabbed and put into service is a set of tags and macros entitled MindReader. This extends the functionality of GyroQ to allow you to enter natural-language phrases such as “Email Bob about project X tomorrow” and have these parsed to create ResultsManager activities with key information fields pre-filled – potentially a huge timesaver.

I run a mixed economy of MindManager versions – X5 at work, 6 at home. MindReader is designed to work with version 6, and I discovered one version-dependency in the code. I’ve posted a fix to make MindReader work with MindManager 5 on the ActivityOwner wiki here.

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