Ayende @ Rahien

It's a girl

Getting things done, my way

When I was in the army, I used to have a notebook (that is a physical one, made of paper) and I wrote just about everything there. I stopped doing it when I realized that I never read it. I don't do to do lists. I can barely manage to handle task tracking with a bug tracking system, and that is because even I recognize this as mandatory.

This is about how I manage to do things. It is likely not applicable for anyone else.

Currently, I use my inbox as the master todo list. And I am using read/unread for managing that. If it is unread, I need to take care of that. It works, except when I have to checkup on things in some time period. That is, let us say that I mail someone something, and I need to get back to them about that in a week. My current option is to mark this as unread and leave it that way for a week.

This approach drive me crazy.

Oh, I tried using things like outlook's reminders and stuff. They don't work for me, too much of an association with meeting reminders and annoyances.

What I wanted was a way to have a mail sent to me in the future. That is, if I want to follow up on that in a week, I will get an email next week reminding me that. Since I am using Gmail, I'll also get the entire conversation, which is the context for what I want to read.

Eventually, I decided that I am going to build this. TimeBox is a simple future email forwarder. It supports natural date syntax, courtesy of DateTimeEnglishParser. Now, if I want to be reminded of something, all I do is forward it to the mailbox, where the service will read it, parse the date and email that to me in the appropriate time.

From the UX perspective, it is:

  • hit 'f' for foward
  • enter timebox email
  • tab twice (subject and then to the actual text)
  • enter time, such as 'in one week'
  • tab to send, enter
  • Done.

I started using this already, and I am liking this quite a bit.

Comments

Steve Smith
09/17/2008 04:10 PM by
Steve Smith

If you use Outlook, then ClearContext has a nice feature that basically works as you describe, but without actually sending around the emails. You should have a look. It also makes filing emails 1000x faster since you can just type a portion of the destination folder rather than having to use the mouse, and it will let you file messages in a thread automatically as well.

Ayende Rahien
09/17/2008 04:26 PM by
Ayende Rahien

I am not actually using outlook

jonnii
09/17/2008 05:13 PM by
jonnii

Have you tried using http://www.highrisehq.com/?

Tony
09/17/2008 05:17 PM by
Tony

For such things I created a small application which runs on system shortcut " Ctrl + Alt + ' ". I opens text editor where I write my current todo:

  • answer to Joe's email

  • prepare task list for coworkers

and so on... I think it's much easier than you described. Just need time for adaptation and train yourself to open it in regular basis. :)

Mike Brown
09/17/2008 05:41 PM by
Mike Brown

I think that is a pretty good system. I do use my inbox (with flags) to manage what I need to do. Thing is my flag list has about 10 items that have passed the date I originally said I want to address this item. I think getting a new email would force me to re-evaluate the priority of the item more than seeing it in a list.

Roy Peled
09/17/2008 05:45 PM by
Roy Peled

Try www.resnooze.com

I think it's exactly what you're looking for.

josh
09/17/2008 07:02 PM by
josh

i often use my inbox as a todo list also; in fact I just deleted a reminder of something related to Ayende. For stuff that is date based I'll use either Remember The Milk or google calendar. I still keep a paper list for notes and things.

LaptopHeaven
09/17/2008 07:26 PM by
LaptopHeaven

Did you write the Pop3 client? Where can I find that code/project?

ludovic
09/17/2008 07:41 PM by
ludovic

What about Remember The Milk? (www.rememberthemilk.com).

You can send tasks in plain english by email or sms or IM or whatever, and get notified also by email or sms or IM or whatever.

...of course, it's always more fun to write an app yourself :)

Pawel Pabich
09/17/2008 08:55 PM by
Pawel Pabich

I'm using Google calendar and I can't really complain. The only problem is that you need to be connected to the Internet.

marshal
09/17/2008 09:23 PM by
marshal

rememberthemilk also has a gmail plugin - very nice

Spigot
09/17/2008 10:01 PM by
Spigot

gtdinbox for Gmail: http://www.gtdinbox.com/

pb
09/18/2008 12:44 AM by
pb

Wow... SqlConnections in methods and no dependency injection or nhibernate. I guess you are mortal after all...

Ayende Rahien
09/18/2008 01:24 AM by
Ayende Rahien

pb,

This is util code. It is about as disposable as it gets, I don't give a damn about its quality or the way that it works.

alberto
09/18/2008 09:18 AM by
alberto

GoogleCalendar++

configurator
09/18/2008 10:25 AM by
configurator

I'm using Google Calendar too... It sends me all of my important reminders as emails. Very convenient.

Glenn Block
09/18/2008 12:43 PM by
Glenn Block

This sounds like just what I need. Downloading now :-)

Ken Egozi
09/18/2008 01:07 PM by
Ken Egozi

Same here - I cant stand to-do lists, and use the inbox for that.

for reminders - definitely google calendar. the email + sms alerts are awesome.

and sometimes, if Im at the end of the day and needs to have a reminder for the first thing in the morning, I simply send an email to myself (or forward a sent message for follow up-ing)

magellings
09/18/2008 03:30 PM by
magellings

http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2008/09/17/how-to-never-forget-anything-again/

I'll be trying Jott and Gcal for the automated text messaging

James
09/18/2008 04:08 PM by
James

I see nothing wrong with the quality of this code. It does what it's supposed to do and it's tight.

John Long
09/23/2008 06:23 PM by
John Long

Hey, I was wondering why the hits and downloads for my DateTime Parser went throught the proverbial roof. Glad you found it useful, and thanks for the link.

Comments have been closed on this topic.