Backpack and The New Org-fu

As promised, here is an update to how I am using Backpack these days for my GTD implementation (That I often refer to as my Org-fu). As I mentioned previously, the newly added feature of having multiple to-do lists on a page really helped me a great deal. It was the one feature that I wished it had from the start. Now that it does, it has really increased my productivity and allows me to do daily and weekly reviews much more efficiently.

Before, I had all of my context lists on separate pages. While this was OK for single action items within the context at hand, it was terrible for multistep items (i.e. projects) and for reviewing. Because I had things spread out over many different pages, it was very difficult to get that “big picture view” that the weekly review process is kind of supposed to be about. Furthermore, there are many projects I have that are outside of a context that need to be somewhere, for these I had a separate project page but, because of the inability to have multiple lists on a page, It was very formatting intensive to keep organized.

Now, with the new multiple to-do list feature in place, here is my current page structure:

  • Today (Home) – This remains the same as before. Basically, the things I want to accomplish today.
  • @Action – All of the single action items go here and are divided into multiple to-do lists according to context.
  • @Errands – Why is this separate and not under “Action”? Because these can only be done in one “context” while out and about. Also, this is one list for now, undivided since several things could be handled in multiple places (i.e. “Buy Milk” could happen at the grocery store or at Target).
  • @Project – Here they all are, each project gets it’s own to-do list. Since I am reviewing this several times a day, as well as tracking next actions in my Pocket Moleskine, there is no need to duplicate these on the “Action” list.
  • @Someday – My someday/maybe items. Things I may want to do someday but are not top of mind right now. A single list for now.

Note that I use the @ sign simply to sort these pages above the others on in the list of pages on the sidebar. I have other pages for other non-Org-fu items. I have a page for gift ideas, one for planning my trip to Macworld, a personal wish list and our wedding registry that I make publicly available. Backpack is very useful like that.

There you have it. Down from 11 pages to just four. Less is more sometimes.

In addition, another new feature that has been added to Backpack is integration with Writeboard. Writeboard is another product by 37 Signals that allows one to write and share text and compare multiple versions of the document to see what has changed. While it is great for collaboration on a document I have been using it as a basic online text editor. It is great for doing things like the basic text of journal postings like this one.

More in keeping with the subject at hand, I have been using it for the vertical mapping I have been working on recently. During the review process it is nice to have these 20,000 ft. and higher maps in the same place as my projects (10,000 ft.) and Next Actions (Runway). This keeps me focused on always having things properly aligned.

If you have not checked out Backpack yet I strongly urge you to do so. It is a really great tool for personal organization. Many of the posts I have made about it are linked in this one so check them out as well for more info.

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