Bonsai With GTD

By Scott Reyes,2014-07-06 06:06
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Bonsai With GTD

    This page is a scrape from another site that discusses how to use the Palm tool Bonsai with Getting Things Done. I tried Bonsai, but found it of little help to me personally. I need to clean up this page and make it more useful. On this page… (hide)

     1. Process and tools

     2. Setting up Bonsai for GTD concepts (and a bit more)

     3. Action Filters

     4. Reviews and maintenance filters

     5. Specialist filters

    1. Process and tools

    In another GTD list, I found this as a good summary of what you need in your GTD system:


    There are 7 primary types of things that you'll want to keep track of:

    A "Projects" list

    Project support material

    Calendared actions and information

    "Next Actions" lists

    A "Waiting For" list

    Reference material

    A "Someday/Maybe" list

    I split those items across the following Palm software for my system: Bonsai, Daynotez, Agendus or Datebk5, Diddlebug or BugMe! Notepad. This is how it all fits together:

    Daynotez and Diddlebug are my inboxI record events or things I need to

    do on desktop Daynotez or Diddlebug on the Palm. I try to process everything later, but in practice sometimes things get put straight into Bonsai. I also have my e-mail inbox that needs processing.

    Bonsai is my powerhouse for organising active tasks and projects. The rest of this thread will explain how I use Bonsai.

    Agendus/Datebk5 I use for its calendar function (meetings) and as a holding area for tasks that I don’t want in Bonsai. I have

    ‘Someday/Maybe’, ‘^Tickler’ and ‘Regular’ categories in my todo database to keep these separate from my active Bonsai tasks. Someday/Maybe items can be imported into Bonsai, or Bonsai items can be exported (Create Todo command) back to the holding area as needed. In addition, some types of dated tasks in Bonsai are linked out to appear in Agendus. I also keep independent ticklers (reminders for the future that aren’t part of an active project) separate in Agendus.

    When it comes to deciding what to do, I look at Agendus to see any meetings or tasks I need to do on that day, see what ticklers I’m being reminded of, or any regular tasks I need to do. I then have a set of Bonsai filters to check to see what I should/want to work on.

    2. Setting up Bonsai for GTD concepts (and a bit more)

    Contexts--I use keywords for contexts. I used to use categories for my contexts, but now use categories for a different purpose (see later), as categories are easier to order and multiple keywords (and contexts) can be applied to tasks (e.g. I might be able to do a task at home or work). You’ll need to decide on your own list of contexts to suit your circumstances, but mine are shown below (where xxx>yyy is xxx=keyword category, yyy keyword). The last one is also explained later:

    Priorities/Time--This isn’t part of GTD but I’m lazyI want Bonsai to

    tell me what’s more important to focus on first, either because it’s important or because I have to do it soon. I use a combination of the due date field and Bonsai categories to assign importance and urgency, because categories are easier to sort. If this is shouting Covey then you’re rightI

    haven’t read the book, but the grid-type system seems a nice-ish way of

    assigning important and priority. My Bonsai categories are as follows:

    My !A-(B/C/D) categories are assigned to next actions to assign importance/priority.

    Projects and Next Actions--the new NA filter in Bonsai v4 has completed changed the way I can plan and handle projects from my previous thread and now next actions are children of a parent. The NAparent property (items which are parents of next actions, which have to be completed consecutively) lets me mix actions that can be done independently and must be done consecutively. I also give projects the #Project category and make them task types to get the progress bar so completed projects stick out. An example project:

    Dates and links--Bonsai is now powerful enough to replace my todo list. Therefore I no longer need to link all my actions to the todo list. Only some dated taks are now linked. First, the items I assign dates to:

    tasks that need to be done BY a date. 某一天截止

    tasks that need to be done ON a day, and if I miss it it’s not worth

    doing. 错错了就不错得做的 比如错错错目

    waiting for’s where I want to be reminded on a date if I haven’t

    received it yet. 等待中的提醒

    ticklers that are part of active projects (i.e. a project that’s on hold

    until a date). 错忘中一错目等待到某一天错个启

    All but the first type of tasks are linked to the todo database. This means I need ^Tickler, ^Waiting For, and !Do ON day categories in todo. Agendas--If items need to be done when I’m speaking to a particular person, or in a particular place, or attending a particular meeting etc then I put the name of that person/place/meeting in the Contact column.

groupings--another non-GTD thingI like to keep related projects and tasks

    grouped together. This might shout Covey again with roles, but I like to keep it more flexible than that. My top-level items are used to group tasks and projects to things I’m doing for the same customer (in work), or for a part of my personal life (e.g. family-related). I’ve tried this in the past and found it difficult to decide what to put new tasks under, but once you get the right top-level items and loosen up about everything being in the right place it works for me.

    So, my top-level items and Bonsai layout look like this (top-level items have the ~FocusArea category):

    Expanding this by one level shows a mix of single actions and projects under these focus areas:

Project support materialall those bits of information that are needed when

    you’re working on a projectplans, rough workings etc. I either put these in

    the notes of the project item, as a separate child item of the project with the >ProjSupport category, or for complex material a link to another outline. All clear so far?

    3. Action Filters

    So, I have single tasks, projects and their next action(s), which are grouped into focus areas, and are assigned a context and are given a time/priority window.

    Now I need to see the right actions at the right time, so I have a set of filters to try and achieve this. I won’t define each one here now, but they usually use the next action filter, and filter on context (keyword):

    All actions show all next actions, regardless of context. This is a flat filter, sorted by category (priority) to show the urgent/important items first. I can resort all my actions by priority/importance (category)/due date/context (keyword) etc etc. by clicking on the column headers.

    Dated items only shows actions with due dates, sorted by date:

@Home only shows items I can do at home, again initially flat sorted by

categorythis includes @Home and @Home-PC keywords/contexts.

I also have @Work, @Out, @Lunchtime filters for my different context


@Agenda shows anything with an entry in the Contact field:

    ^Waiting For shows only next actions with the ^Waiting For category. 4. Reviews and maintenance filters

    I also have some filters just to check my outline is not missing any items that would mean they don’t show up in the action filters, and also to use when reviewing my outline:

    Projects shows only projects and their child items/sub-projects:

Single actions shows actions that aren’t part of projects (basically

everything Projects doesn’t).

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