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Apr 26, 2013

Toodledo Startup Guide

(By Richard Welsh, MD Abbotsford, BC, Canada) After searching and trying many different tools for managing tasks, I have settled on Toodledo a web based productivity tool for comprehensive task management ( While it appears rather plain and simple, it has great features and flexibility built into it. Some of its most useful features are Context, Status, Tags, Star, Filters, Sorting and especially the ability to assign and share tasks with others. Following is my recommended usage and setup for Toodledo. IMPORTANT NOTE: Quick Start Approach - You will save yourself a lot of time if you do the following: 1. Read over Sections I V to get an overview dont worry if you dont understand everything it will come later! 2. Section I read about the various Toodledo features in the Help tab on the Toodledo Website; learn the meaning applied to the various features (some of them will make more sense after doing Section III) 3. Section II follow the instructions carefully 4. Section III after reviewing, go back to Section I. 5. You dont have to do all of the above in one sitting but it is best to do the above before you actually start using Toodledo. Each section will take about an hour of time. Investing this time at the very beginning will save you hours of time later.

I. Toodledo Features A. Help Tab B. Term Definition and Usage II. Setup A. Settings B. Organize Tab III. Process
A. Task Tab B. Planning

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IV. Advanced Usage Tips and Tricks V. Appendix

Book Summary Getting Things Done by David Allan

I. Toodledo Features
A. Help Tab
Following are the most important Help topics to read before starting. Click on the Help tab and type the following words or phrases into the Search bar: Features: Context what is context Start Date start date field Due Date Due Dates Repeat repeating tasks

Length length field Timer the timer Priority priority work Tag what is a tag Status status field Note add a note Files attach files Viewing: Resizing Columns resize Show filters work Sort sort my Sort by Importance importance do Hotlist the hotlist Entering Tasks: Subtasks tasks and subtasks Entering multiple tasks edit multiple tasks Entering duplicate tasks duplicate a task Editing groups of tasks bunch of tasks Sharing Tasks share my tasks (FYI when you reassign tasks to someone else, the Folder and Context fields are removed, even if the other person has the same Folder and Context names).

B. Term Definition and Usage

Folders areas of focus; areas of responsibility; big projects Contexts - A context is a particular location, situation or time of day that relates to which tasks can be completed. Start/Due Dates Start Date use for ALL tasks; in the SHOW field (ie filters), if Future tasks are deselected, it starts showing up the day before the Start Date Due Date do not use unless it there is a real deadline (as per GTD recommendation) Repeating Tasks Repeat From o Use From Due date if you want the Task to show up at the same time each week, month or year Use From Completion Date if you want the same time interval from completion to showing up again. Status - Set Status to Next Action (if you want to do it in the week that it shows up) or Active (if you dont want to necessarily do it right away). Priority (-1 to 3) Priority (- 1) undecided (ie might do) Priority 0 low importance (ie could do) Priority 1 moderate importance (ie should do) Priority 2 high importance (ie must do) Priority 3 critical now (ie must do now) Tags Use if you want to be able to search for items across folders and contexts; use abbreviations to facilitate display of multiple Tags. Examples of possible uses are as follows: Names of people (use initials for easy to remember people) Roles eg Parent, Spouse, Director, etc. Type of activity eg Book, Movie, Declutter, Travel, Focus, etc. Type of Meeting Repeat (Rpt) for all Repeating Tasks so you can View all Repeating tasks (View by Tags and select Rpt)

Permanent (Perm*) use for tasks that you want to always show up in your Daily View so you can readily add items to the Note field (eg items to discuss with a person you meet with weekly; items you want to buy at a store that you frequently go to)

Status (Unable to customize) I suggest using the Status to indicate the degree of urgency. Below are the definitions I assign to the various terms:

To Indicate Urgency Next Action to do this week Active to do this month Postponed to do between 1 and 4 months Someday - to do between 4 and 12 months Hold to do after 12 months Note: For those familiar with the MYN system (Master Your Now), the last two items are a variation of the Defer-To-Review process. Another option is to change the Start Date to when you want the task to show up. Other Delegated - when the whole task has been delegated but you what to oversee its completion and the Due Date is > 1 month away; +/- Due Date (note - if something is pending within 1 month, keep as Next Action and change Context to Delegated) Waiting pending (more than 1 month away) - when you need something else to happen before taking further action on the task; +/- Due Date (note - if something is pending within 1 month, keep as Next Action and change Context to Waiting ) Reference Use for information that you want to be able to refer to but doesnt need to be completed. Not Needed Planning do not use; instead, create a separate repeating task for weekly, monthly, quarterly, semiannual and yearly planning; put the planning items related to each planning interval in the Notes section of the task (see separate document called Repeating Tasks for examples) Canceled do not use unless you want to be able to track tasks time was spent on but not completed

Length Enter how long you think the task will take. This can be used for specific contexts where you want to match available hours with estimated length of task time (eg Office and Den contexts) see section III. Process > Weekly Planning for more details. Star Use for tasks you want to do today or Critical Now tasks (MYN system) Hotlist I dont use this feature

II. Setup
First go to to subscribe to the Pro version ($15/yr) and then download onto smart phone. When you enter your email address and password on the smartphone they automatically synchronize but settings need to be set up on the phone as well.

A. Settings - Website (Top right hand corner of window)

Account Settings edit Don't get daily email reminders of important tasks Alias: xxxxxxx_xxxxxxxxxx edit Password: (not displayed) edit Timezone Mar 18, 2012 5:12 pm. Regional Settings: Week starts on Sunday. edit Distances measured in kilometers. OpenID: Learn More edit Unique ID: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx edit Subscription: Pro Subscription(expires Mar 12, 2013) Renew Login Email:

Keyboard Shortcuts: Keyboard Shortcuts Enabled Encryption: No edit edit

Display Preferences: Top is fixed and tasks scroll. edit Left sidebar can hide. Grid (One line with columns) Show note icon on the left. Tags are sorted alphabetically. Fields/Functions Used: Folder, Context, Start Date, Due Date, Repeat, Length, Priority, Tag, Status, Staredit (Note other options: Assignor , Due Time and Alarm) Row Style: Title is styled by due date edit Completed tasks are dimmed Default View: Status edit New Task Defaults: Priority: Medium (ie 1) edit Status: Next Action Start Date: Today Length: 15 min Star: Off Also applied to tasks added via email or twitter. Subtasks: Subtasks Enabled with Automatic sorting edit New subtasks assume attributes of parent task. Indented mode shows loose subtasks. Hotlist Settings: A task with any of these criteria will appear on the hotlist: edit Has a priority of '3 Top' or higher. Has a Due Date in the next 30 days. Has a status of 'Next Action' Hide Future Tasks: More than 2 months in the future edit Show List Counts: Show the number of tasks inside each list edit Delete Completed Tasks:After 2 years edit

B. Organize Tab
To Create, go to Organize>Folders or Contexts Keep titles short (7-8 characters max) For Folders, after entering, tick the box at the bottom to sort alphabetically (in the iPhone App, they sort alphabetically automatically, on a PC, they can be manually arranged). Contexts are always displayed alphabetically. In the daily view, Tasks are sorted first by Context which is why it is important for them to be numbered so that they appear in particular order. Below are how I use Folders and Contexts you will need to adjust these to suit your own roles, areas of responsibility, contexts, etc.

Folders roles; areas of focus; areas of responsibility; big projects

Categories: 1 = personal 2 = work 3 = family, home, social 1 Personal 2 Work Folders - create a different folder for each major role/responsibility you have) 2 (Work Project) - add major projects here and rename; one folder per major project 3 Family 3 Finance 3 Home 3 (Home Project) - add major projects here and rename; one folder per major project Contexts - A context is a particular location, situation or time of day that relates to which tasks can be completed 1 Meet 1 Office 2 Phone 2 Email 3 Den 3 Home 4 Family 4 Out (ie Out and about; Shopping, Errands; etc) 5 Read 5 Refocus Delegated Reference Waiting Note: The numbers at the beginning result in the Folders and Contexts showing up in a specific order which makes the desired one easier to find when entering tasks on the computer or a smartphone. It also enables one to have the Contexts show up in the order in which they are most frequently viewed on a daily basis (as I use Context as the first level of sorting in the daily view)

D. Column Settings

To resize and arrange, click on the tab and the far right end of the column header Minimize column width for all columns except make Tag (to display multiple Tags) and Repeat (to display advanced Repeats) columns a little wider. Make the Task name column as wide as possible without creating a scroll bar at the bottom. Order: Folder, Context, Priority, Status, Length, Tag, Repeat, Due Date, Start Date
Preferences as you wish Synchronization Application Badge select for Overdue tasks Start Page select Starred Fields & Defaults select and arrange in the following order: o Folder, Context, Priority, Status, Length, Tag, Repeat, Due Date, Start Date

E. Iphone and IPad download the respective apps and go to settings to configure the following:

III. Process
A. Tasks Tab
1. SHOW (ie Filters): Always select Negative Priority and Deferred and deselect Recently Completed and Future unless otherwise specified Always select Indent Subtasks, and all Contexts and Tags unless instructed otherwise (see Process) 2. SORT: See section C. Processing Intervals (see below) for specific instructions regarding this feature (FYI -Toodledo remembers your sort and filter settings for each view, and retains them for the next time that you visit the website).

3. Entering Tasks
Initial Entry See Help section reentering multiple tasks (ie group tasks with similar field settings and enter them together) and duplicate a task (ie create a template for similar tasks) Subject Line Go from general to specific; for example start the task description with a prefix to denote subcategories within folders (eg name of a role, person, type of work, etc). Finish with the specific task * Very Important Tip - Write all tasks as specific single next action steps Subtasks When there are several action steps to a given task, enter them as subtasks Start Date Defaults to date of entry; change to later date if dont want it to show up until then (if entering a future Start Date set the Status to Next Action so it will show up in the Daily View Due Date Use in conjunction with Start date to indicate degree of urgency Priority Use to indicate importance Star Use to identify tasks to be done today Status Use to identify urgency (See Section B Term Definitions and Usage) Note Use this to enter further details about the task. For multistep tasks, you can put the next step in the Subject Line and remaining steps in the Note field. Tip Invest the time to enter EVERYTHING. Once it is ALL entered, you will have a system you can trust

B. Processing Overview
The principle is to only view the Tasks relevant to the action required. The required action for each task in the following views is Do I want to move the task up or down a level? This system allows you to only view tasks when it matters and in a way that makes it easy to process (ie decide what to do with the task). Processing Interval Daily Weekly Monthly Quarterly Yearly Status to be Reviewed Next Action Active Postponed Someday Hold Review Tasks to be Done: This Week This Month This Quarter This Year After 1 Year Action - Decide if you want to do task: Today This Week This Month This Quarter This Year Sort Feature
Context > Priority > Alphabetical Importance > Priority > Alphabetical Importance > Priority > Alphabetical Importance > Priority > Alphabetical Importance > Priority > Alphabetical

C. Processing Intervals
1. Daily Review Next Action Tasks (ie to be done this week) to determine if they should be Starred (ie to be done
today - or tomorrow if doing this in the evening) VIEW BY: Status and select Next Action *Action Add a star to items that you want to do today (or tomorrow).

2. Weekly - Processes Inbox and views all tasks Due within 1 month (ie Status Active).
a) Review Inbox (ie tasks that have been incompletely entered) a. VIEW BY: Status and select Next Action b. COLUMNS: Click on the column heading for Folder and Context to Sort by that column *Action for Tasks that have fields blank; select the appropriate option where applicable. b) Review Active Tasks (ie to be done this month) to determine if they should be make Next Action (ie to be done this week) a. VIEW BY: Status and select Active (ie all items due within a month) b. SORT: Importance > Priority > Alphabetical *Action Change Status to Next Action for tasks to be done this week c) Be realistic o Identify how many hour you have available you have in the next 7 days o In Toodledo, look at the Total Estimated Lengths (bottom left corner) o If you cannot realistically accomplish everything, apply D1 protocol* (can be done at any stage) i. Delete ii. Delegate iii. Diminish (do part of it or do it less perfectly eg for perfectionists, 80% may be good enough) iv. Delay (eg put something on hold) v. Do o If you are feeling overwhelmed by a backlog of Tasks, apply the D2 protocol i. Defuse talking about your feelings with someone can help you gain perspective and release pent up emotions that distort your thinking ii. Difficult doing the difficult tasks first makes everything else easier while avoiding difficult tasks makes everything else seem more overwhelming iii. Design structure your life so you are playing more to your strengths (ie doing things you look forward to, enjoy doing and feel energized after doing) iv. Delight enjoy the journey, not just the destination

v. Dance celebrate each step and milestone along the way

3. Monthly
a) Review Delegated and Waiting Tasks (if you are using these Statuss) - VIEW BY: Status view by each of the following categories: Delegated, Waiting *Action Decide if any follow-up needs to be taken b) Review Postponed Tasks (ie to be done within 4 months) to determine if they should be make Active (ie to be done this month) - VIEW BY: Status and select Postponed - SORT: Importance > Priority > Alphabetical *Action Change Status to Active for tasks to be done within the next month o Also go to Tools>Import/Export>Backup/Restore to do a Backup of your Toodledo Account

4. Quarterly Views all tasks with the Someday status (ie to be done with the next year) to determine if they should be
make Postponed (ie to be done in the next 4 months) - VIEW BY: Status and select Someday - SORT: Importance > Priority > Alphabetical *Actions: o For tasks to be done within 4 months, change Status to Postponed and update other fields o Review your purpose, mission, vision, values and strategic objectives. o Set quarterly goals and embed them in Toodledo and other systems. o Review existing items by Folder and Name; Add new tasks related to your projects and goals

5. Yearly - Views all tasks with the Hold status (ie to be done next year) to determine if they should be make Someday
(ie to be done this year) - VIEW BY: Status and select Hold - SORT: Importance > Priority > Alphabetical *Action o For tasks to be done within 12 months, change Status to Someday and update other fields o Revise your purpose, mission, vision, values and strategic objectives. o Set yearly goals and embed them in Toodledo and other systems.

D. Daily View
When viewing your tasks throughout the day, use the following settings: VIEW BY: Main and select Starred SORT: Context > Priority > Alphabetical *Action Focus on completing tasks within your current context only Tip If you do your task processing on your desktop, have the default View (under Settings) set to Main. If you do your daily viewing of tasks on you mobile device, have the default View set to Status.

IV. Advanced Usage - Tips and Tricks (Optional)

Assigning Tasks If you want the person to whom you assigned the task to notify you when it is completed, add Reply to the end of the description line. Sharing Tasks (See Help section on Sharing to set up permissions) When tasks are shared between two or more Toodledo accounts, the identical tasks show up in each account. Changing it in one changes it in another. In particular, the Folder and Context remain the same (unlike Assigning a task where the Folder and Context are removed when it is assigned to someone else. It is therefore essential that the different Toodledo accounts have matching Folder and Context names. If one or more people are most responsible for completing the task, decide on a convention for indicating this. One suggestion is to add the name or initials of the person(s) as a Tag. If two or more people are responsible, put the most responsible persons tag first. Managing Shared Tasks o Under Workspace (dropdown box in top right corner, you can go to another Toodledo account and view and edit tasks. If tasks are shared, you can also view and edit them from your own Workspace. o You can only share and assign tasks from your own Workspace o You can only change sharing from the account where the task was created o You can share tasks with multiple other users o You cannot assign a task to someone if it is already being shared o When you edit a task that has been shared, whatever changes you make will be viewed by the other users who are sharing the task. If you change the Context to one that other users didnt previously have, that Context will now show up in their account. o When a shared task is completed, it is completed in everyones account. Difficult Tasks (#) Can use if you have a tendency to avoid certain tasks. These are Tasks that tend to be avoided due to any of the following reasons: o Unpleasant o Not a strength o Emotional barriers o Require a high amount of energy, concentration or focus. Flag these Tasks by adding a # to the front of the description line to remind you that there may be some subconscious reasons why you may tend to avoid the task. Try to get these out of the way ASAP or delegate them to someone else. Pending Tasks - If a Next Action is pending some other action or event before it can be done If Pending within a month Change the Context to Pending these will now show up at the bottom of your list in the Daily view so you can easily find them but they dont clutter up your daily task list If the pending item is more than 1 month away, change the Status to Pending the pending task will then be reviewed as part of Monthly processing Reference Tasks No action is required but you may want information readily available to refer to. Options include: Change Status to Reference by definition in Toodledo, Reference is classified as a Deferred task and will therefore not show up unless the Deferred box is ticked in the View field Change Context to Reference if Starred, the task will show up at the bottom in the Daily view Assigning a Task to be done on a Particular Day Sometimes one may want to do particular tasks on certain days. This can be indicated by putting a number at the front of the description line that corresponds to the day of week (eg 1= Mon, 2=Tues, etc)

Examples o Weekly or frequent meetings where you meet on a certain day of the week o Tasks that can only be done on certain days

Permanent Tasks These are Tasks that you want to be able to readily add notes to. Examples would be as follows: o People that you meet with regularly (eg work colleagues, spouse, children, etc) discussion topics can be added to Notes as you think of them o Places that you visit frequently eg particular stores o Shopping a place to park all your shopping items o Gift Ideas o Reading List, etc. Indicate by adding a Tag called Perm*. o Optional - You can further identify them by adding an asterisk to the front of the task description line. That way you are reminded not to complete it. Also, in the Daily view, if you want it to show up at the top of each Context so they are easy to find and add notes to (eg agenda items for meetings), change the Priority to 3. Repeating Tasks These can be entered manually or my list of generic repeating tasks can be easily imported as a CSV file. To revise and import my generic list, do the following: o Click on the following link:'s%20Generic%20Repeating%20Tasks.csv o Save to your computer o A list of tasks will open in Excel. To view the tasks more easily you can Hide the columns you dont want to use. Adjust the column sizes to better view the contents. To see what is in the NOTES column, right click on it and select Format Cells > Alignment and tick the Wrap Text box o Delete any tasks you dont want to use o Change the Folder and Context name to match your own (otherwise when you import it will automatically create new folder names) o Adjust repeat interval, priority and any other columns you want to change o Note, Ive changed the Tag for my generic repeating tasks to Rpt* so you can distinguish them from your own repeating tasks. You can change it back to Rpt if you want. o Resave to your computer o Go to Toodledo > Tools > Import/Export > CSV Import / Export and Click on More Details. o In the CSV Tasks Import window click on the Browse tab and select the CVS file you saved in the above step and then click the Import tab o Voila! You have just saved yourself several hours of thinking of and entering numerous repeating tasks. I may add new repeating tasks in the future. They will be added at the bottom. You will be able to tell which ones are new by comparing it with the version you saved to your computer. Projects If a task requires more than 1 step, it is a project
Large projects - make a separate Folder Medium projects - use Subtasks Small projects - use Notes and add a + to end of project description to denote it is a multistep task; can also add the next step in the project to end of the description line

Notebook Use to track information that you refer to on a less then weekly basis. Examples are the following: Goals keep list of your goals; review weekly during your weekly review and planning time; update monthly

Infrequent Meetings (eg less than monthly) frequent meetings can be kept as a permanent task so you can easily add items to Note field as they come to mind; for infrequent meetings, create a Notebook for each meeting type (eg Financial Planner, Accountant, Lawyer, Life Coach, etc) Logs create a notebook to track various things pertaining to hobbies, family activities, dates with spouse Gift List park all gift ideas here; list gift ideas by person

Adding Tasks Via Email (Go to Tools Tab>More>Email Access - enable if you want to be able to email tasks to Toodledo) To add a task, send an email to your secret Toodledo email address with the task in the subject. In addition to the name of the task, you can also set the priority, due-date, folder, context and other values using a special syntax. Priority - The default priority is "0 - Low". To set a higher priority use the ! character as many times as necessary. Typing !! would give your task a priority of "2-High". Due-Date - To set a due-date, use the # symbol and then type the due-date. For example: "#today" or "#Next thursday" or "#5/12/08". Start Date - To set the start date, use the > symbol and then the date. For example: ">tomorrow". Star - To star a task use the * symbol by itself. For example: "My Task *". Folder - To set the folder use the * symbol and then type the name of your folder. For example: "*ProjectA". Context - To set the context use the @ symbol and then type the name of your context. For example: "@home". Status - To set the status use the $ symbol and then the status. For example: "$Next Action". Tag - To set the tag use the % symbol followed by the tag or tags that you want to add. For example: "%tag1, tag2". Length - To set the length that you think a task will take, use the ~ symbol followed by the length. For example: "~4hours". Repeat - To set how a task repeats, use the & symbol followed by how you want it to repeat. For example: "&Every Week". Here is a list of phrases that work. Note - The body of the email will become the note of the task. File Attachments - Any attachments in the email will be attached to the task on Toodledo ( Pro Plus Subscribers only)

V. Appendix - Book Summary: Getting Things Done by David Allan

Everything should be made as simple as possible, not simpler. (Albert Einstein) Anxiety is caused by a lack of control, preparation and action. There're two key objectives: 1. Capture all things that need to get done 2. Discipline yourself to make front-end decisions about all the input you let into your life. Work has transformed from assembly-line work to "Knowledge work". Knowledge work is less self-evident. Your ability to generate power is directed portion of your ability to relax. The power in a karate punch comes from speed, not muscle. The position of perfect readiness is "mind like water". a tense muscle is a slow muscle. Anything that causes you to over react or under react can control you, and often does. The basic requirements for managing commitments: Identify all your commitments and decide what you have to do if anything to make progress toward fulfilling them. Put all of your actions in an organized system that you review regularly. The real work of knowledge work: The task is not given; it has to be determined. There's usually no right answer Results have to be clearly specified if productivity is to be achieved. Most of us were never taught that we have to think about our work before we can do it. The ancestor of every action is a thought. Why things are on your mind: You haven't clarified exactly what the intended outcome is you haven't decided what the next action step is You haven't put the outcome and action into a system that you trust This constant, unproductive preoccupation with all the things we have to do is the single largest consumer of time and energy. We need to transform all the "stuff" we're trying to organize into actionable stuff we need to do. We cannot manage time, information or priorities. The only thing we can manage is our actions. Things rarely get stuck because of lack of time. They get stuck because the doing of them has not been defined. There's usually in inverse proportion between how much something is on your mind and how much it's getting done. If you make good front-end decisions about what your options are, it will be much easier think about what option you want to choose at the time when action is required. Your mind will keep working on anything if it is still in the undecided state. Five stages of mastering workflow: collect, process, organize, review and do. The value of purpose: it defines success, creates decision-making criteria, aligns resources, motivates, clarifies focus and expands options. I would not give a fig for the simplicity on this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity. Oliver Wendell Holmes Cannot use support material for reminding or actions. What lies in our power to do, lies in our power not to do. Aristotle When you're not sure where you're going, you'll never know when enough is enough. If you're not totally sure what your job is, it will always feel overwhelming.

Anxiety and guilt doesn't come from having too much to do; it's the automatic result of breaking agreements with yourself. The solution is to either don't make the agreement, complete agreement or renegotiate them. It is important to track both important as well as unimportant items. Anything held only in psychic RAM will either take up more or less attention that it deserves. Make sure tasks are next action Items. If not, put the next action item in subtasks or notes. It is better to decide on what the next action is when things show up instead of when things blow up. The value of the next action decision is that the question forces clarity, accountability, productivity and power. Three basic steps for developing a vision: view the project from the completion date; envision wild success; capture features, aspects, qualities you imagine in place.

The following resources are available from David Allans website:
Processing Workflow Diagram Three models for making action choices: A. the four criteria model context; Time available; energy available; priority B. The threefold model: predefined work; work as it shows up; defining your work. C. The six level model for reviewing your own work: 1. Current actions do daily and weekly 2. Current projects do weekly and monthly. 3. Areas of responsibility do monthly. For most people there are 10 to 15 areas of responsibility. For each area of responsibility role, have a area of focus for that month. 4. 1 to 2 year goals do quarterly. 5. 3 to 5 year vision do semiannually. This takes into account's internal factors, outer world issues and trends. 6. Life do annually. This is a big picture view that relates to the primary purpose for things and provides the core definition of what your work really is. The natural project planning model: 1. Defining purpose and principles 2. Outcome visioning. 3. Brainstorming 4. Organizing 5. Identifying next actions.

Other Ideas and Suggestions for Using Toodledo?

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