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Task Management in Knowledge Outliners

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Posted by Ken
May 4, 2021 at 08:46 PM

 

Luhmann wrote:
Regarding calendar based task management. This really makes no sense for
>me. I have due dates, yes, but how I use my time throughout the day is
>very fluid, and it would not make sense to try to put my tasks into a
>calendar. Calendar entries are basically times that I can’t do anything
>else because I have a class or meeting or social engagement. If I were
>to, say, write down that I will spend two hours writing in the morning,
>the most likely scenario is that something else will come up at that
>time which requires my attention and I won’t actually do the writing
>until the afternoon. Much more important for me is to know what I will
>write that day because I have some notes or an outline that will enable
>me to get to writing quickly without having to sit and remember what I
>was going to write about. But I guess everyone has very different work
>habits and jobs that lend themselves to different solutions.

This resembles my work flow almost exactly.  I am not sure if I should say that great minds think alike, or misery loves company. ;)

—Ken

 


Posted by Dr Andus
May 4, 2021 at 11:22 PM

 

Franz Grieser wrote:
>If I am not mistaken, Dr Andus once used a paper solution, I think he
>used index cards he could move around. Each card represented a
>predefined duration.

Franz, your memory is amazing, even I can’t remember that! :-)

But it sounds like something I’d try (and then abandon).

In any case, I still use index cards but for a slightly different purpose: to have a physical reminder of important tasks (and projects) that I must return to (as I’m interrupted constantly all day long, and otherwise I’d forget what my long-term priorities are/should be).

The advantage of index cards is (besides being physical reminders that are still there after you turn your computer off) that they can be easily reshuffled as priorities change, and when the top priority is on the top of the deck (which I keep together with a paper clip), then it hides the others, which makes me focus on getting the top one done (one thing at a time, that’s the only method that works).

But this is just one part of my current ‘system.’ The other part is a manual calendar I built in RoamResearch (where I do review each day’s todos at the end of the day and redistribute them over future days), and Roam helpfully presents me every morning with that day’s list, and then there is Google Calendar, where I schedule meetings and block out time for bigger tasks, to get them actually done.

As for the debate on whether one should only use a calendar or also a todo list, for me a todo list is not just a list but a space where I work out what needs to be done (I think that’s called “work breakdown structure” in project management).

I would not be able to just schedule things directly in a calendar without first breaking the tasks down in an outliner (such as Roam or WorkFlowy) and figuring out what actually needs to be done.

Otherwise you need to rely on your innate ability to estimate how long a task can take, and sometimes a task may need dozens of subtasks to be done before it can be ticked “done.”

For me there is an a symbiotic, mirroring relationship (I’m sure there is a word for that) between a calendar and a todo list. Things need to be bounced between them in order for them to fully develop.

 


Posted by Franz Grieser
May 5, 2021 at 05:37 PM

 

Dr Andus wrote:
>Franz, your memory is amazing, even I can’t remember that! :-)
>But it sounds like something I’d try (and then abandon).

Maybe more a mix of memory and imagination filling the gaps between memory blocks ;-)

 


Posted by Luhmann
May 7, 2021 at 03:11 AM

 

I personally don’t use the transclusion feature of Roam (block references) as much as I might, but here is a video showing how this can be useful for task management. Funnily enough, he also uses apple pie as an example…

https://www.loom.com/share/1fd32470a1dc40ea8255b26a7704de37

 


Posted by Luhmann
May 12, 2021 at 11:38 PM

 

I had a further thought about why this has become such an essential part of how I work: for much of my work there is now no separation between task management and doing the task. For insistence, if I have a task: “prepare talk on XYZ,” I create a nested item under that task called “notes for talk on XYZ” and when I need to work on it I just zoom in on that and work on it right there. No need to switch contexts to another app. Indeed, I can also pull in notes related to my talk from elsewhere in Roam as I work, perhaps in the sidebar if I want to look at them while I write.

 


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