Don't You (Dun Dun Dun Da Dun Dun) Forget About Me

Recently I’ve been using Remember the Milk to remind me to do stuff. In the past I had used the service briefly on my search for an online GTD tool. I discarded it because it was too hard then to add new lists, which I had planned to use for each project. I also was turned off by it because I wasn’t keen on requiring the Internet to work.

A couple of events has recently made this decision change. The first thing that happened was my addition of messaging to my cell phone plan. I did it mainly to interact with Twitter while I was on the road. It’s something I never saw myself using before, but now that I am, it is really nifty and I can see why people use it from their phones.

However, with their recent introduction of a Twitter bot, it is now much more useful. The bot lets me add things to my Inbox list from anywhere, unchaining me from the Internet. All I have to do is text ‘d rtm whatever’ to twitter and it automatically adds a item to my inbox, which is where I keep everything I need to do. I have it setup as a template in my phone, so that I can even avoid typing the ‘d rtm ’ part. Remember The Milk also has notification settings for phones, so at the beginning of the day it will message me with the things due that day. Having it turned on reminds me to do most things, because I check my phone quite often, even though I don’t get any calls.

I’ve stopped trying to use the lists for separate projects. I now use the Inbox as a main list, not caring how long it gets. I also have separate lists for categories of things that I’d like to do, but I don’t care what order or when they get done. For example, I have a list for the pizza places that Diana and I might go to on our pizza place tour of the cities. I also have a list of cheaper and more expensive restaurants that we haven’t been to, so when we want to go out to eat somewhere but can’t decide where, we can just grab one off of the list. Remember the milk is particularly decent for lists like the two described because you can associate a geographical location with any element on a list, so I can see where the restaurants are instead of having to look them up.

There is one special list that I keep which isn’t of the two types above - the projects list. This is the list of projects that I have committed myself to. It has one entry for each project, with a note on each entry explaining the past-tense result of the project. It is used in my weekly review, in order to populate the list if I have for some reason marked off a part of the project and not added a task for the next action in the project. I find that it keeps me honest because I can’t mark off something from here until the past-tense description has actually come true.

Generally my workflow now goes like this. I add the task to my Inbox list either from the road or from the web interface. Then it gets moved to a special list if it is of a special class like the “Eating out” or “Pizza Places” lists. If it has more than three or four steps, I will put it on the project list instead and create a new task on the Inbox list that is doable and is the logical next action for the list. When I do something, it gets crossed off the list and then I go on to the next item. I know that if I don’t have anything left to do on that day in remember the milk, I can just do random stuff from farther down on the list without a due date.

I’ve been doing this for a couple weeks now and its working out just fine. I was happy to have everything work out together so that I could use Twitter and Remember the milk, and I am being more productive than any other system that I’ve tried. This may just be an example of Using What Works. I thought I would share just in case it can help someone else find their workflow to get things done.