VOGTD - Some syntax notes

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VOGTD - Some syntax notes

Noel Henson
I've been thinking alot about a new plugin for VO to support GTD (Getting
Things Done). The goals is to create a smart, vim-like planner that
supports the GTD philosophy. I'm attaching an OTL condensate of my current
thinking for feedback. Try to keep in mind that this is plugin is separate
from the checkboxes plugin.

I'm especially concerned about the syntax and encoding of the most
important information on heading lines. This information needs to be simple
to interpret yet dense so a user and examine and understand a schedule/todo
at a glance; even when all children are folded. You can see some simple
examples in the attachment. Just perform a ,,3.

The reason I'm working so hard on syntax this early in the game is that
I want the program that manages the GTD schedule, todos and interfacing to
checkboxes to be as simple as possible. I'm trying to heavily weight the
solution in a human-readable, data-centric way. I think that such
a solution would be the most robust. It should also make it easy to create
import/export and reporting programs.

Thoughts?

Noel

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Re: VOGTD - Some syntax notes

Steve Litt
On Monday 07 November 2005 12:44 pm, Noel Henson wrote:
> I've been thinking alot about a new plugin for VO to support GTD (Getting
> Things Done). The goals is to create a smart, vim-like planner that
> supports the GTD philosophy.

What's the GTD philosophy?

[clip]
> The reason I'm working so hard on syntax this early in the game is that
> I want the program that manages the GTD schedule, todos and interfacing to
> checkboxes to be as simple as possible. I'm trying to heavily weight the
> solution in a human-readable, data-centric way.

Well, you'll never get me to argue against data-centricity :-)

> I think that such
> a solution would be the most robust. It should also make it easy to create
> import/export and reporting programs.
>
> Thoughts?

My understanding is this would be separate from existing checkboxes, and
that's a good thing.

Straight from Stephen Covey, I suggest you at least think about separating
priority into importance and urgency. According to Covey, and I agree, one
should strive to do that which is important and non-urgent. Doing
nonimportant stuff means one's not doing his job, while doing urgent stuff
means firefighting -- it should have been done before it was urgent.

While thinking about prioritization, also consider Steve Litt's controvertial
"easiest first prioritization", thoroughly explained at
http://www.troubleshooters.cxm/tpromag/200008/200008.htm.

SteveT

>
> Noel

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Re: VOGTD - Some syntax notes

Noel Henson
On Monday 07 November 2005 12:26 pm, you wrote:
> On Monday 07 November 2005 12:44 pm, Noel Henson wrote:
> > I've been thinking alot about a new plugin for VO to support GTD
> > (Getting Things Done). The goals is to create a smart, vim-like
> > planner that supports the GTD philosophy.
>
> What's the GTD philosophy?

It's about really getting organized. It's kind of a complete process. You
can find out more by reading "Getting Things Done; The Art of Stress-Free
Productivity" (ISBN 0-14-2000028-0). The goal is to create a new plugin
that turns VO into a time/task management tool.

>
> [clip]
>
> > The reason I'm working so hard on syntax this early in the game is
> > that I want the program that manages the GTD schedule, todos and
> > interfacing to checkboxes to be as simple as possible. I'm trying to
> > heavily weight the solution in a human-readable, data-centric way.
>
> Well, you'll never get me to argue against data-centricity :-)

(I kinda figured that)

>
> > I think that such
> > a solution would be the most robust. It should also make it easy to
> > create import/export and reporting programs.
> >
> > Thoughts?
>
> My understanding is this would be separate from existing checkboxes, and
> that's a good thing.

Checkboxes and VOGTD both have checkbox functions but they serve different
purposes. I find that VO with checkboxes to be a great tool for managing
projects. I find that also has many shortcomings when it comes to managing
tasks and time on a daily basis. VO Calendar helps a great deal but there
are some functional shortcomings there, too. I want VOGTD to work along
side and be integrated with both. Perhaps my goals for VOGTD are lofty, but
then, sometimes that way to make some real progress.

>
> Straight from Stephen Covey, I suggest you at least think about
> separating priority into importance and urgency. According to Covey, and
> I agree, one should strive to do that which is important and non-urgent.
> Doing nonimportant stuff means one's not doing his job, while doing
> urgent stuff means firefighting -- it should have been done before it
> was urgent.

I use the term 'priority' because it seems to be more generic. That actual
'priorities' I use in my daily work are: vital, important and optional.

>
> While thinking about prioritization, also consider Steve Litt's
> controvertial "easiest first prioritization", thoroughly explained at
> http://www.troubleshooters.cxm/tpromag/200008/200008.htm.

I've read it. It's already on my list of important things one should read
about productivity. But you have pointed out one of the largely unaddressed
areas of both VO Checkboxes and VOGTD: required effort.  But I'm still
trying to think things through before I begin serious coding.

>
> SteveT

Noel


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  www.vimoutliner.org Work fast. Think well.


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Re: VOGTD - Some syntax notes

Mitchell Surface
In reply to this post by Noel Henson
On Mon, Nov 07, 2005 at 09:44:20AM -0800, Noel Henson wrote:
> I've been thinking alot about a new plugin for VO to support GTD (Getting
> Things Done). The goals is to create a smart, vim-like planner that
> supports the GTD philosophy. I'm attaching an OTL condensate of my current
> thinking for feedback. Try to keep in mind that this is plugin is separate
> from the checkboxes plugin.
>

This is really great. I've tried to find a way to use VO for GTD and not
had much luck.

> I'm especially concerned about the syntax and encoding of the most
> important information on heading lines. This information needs to be simple
> to interpret yet dense so a user and examine and understand a schedule/todo
> at a glance; even when all children are folded. You can see some simple
> examples in the attachment. Just perform a ,,3.
>

How are you planning to handle projects? I always ran into difficulties
mixing contexts and statuses.

> The reason I'm working so hard on syntax this early in the game is that
> I want the program that manages the GTD schedule, todos and interfacing to
> checkboxes to be as simple as possible. I'm trying to heavily weight the
> solution in a human-readable, data-centric way. I think that such
> a solution would be the most robust. It should also make it easy to create
> import/export and reporting programs.
>
> Thoughts?
>
> Noel
>
> --
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------------
>   Noel Henson
>   www.noels-lab.com Chips, firmware and embedded systems
>   www.vimoutliner.org Work fast. Think well.
>

> VO GTD
> Syntax Ideas
> Status Markers
> (_) Unstarted
> (+) Started
> (-) Canceled
> (*) Completed
> (=) Paused
> (>) Delegated
> Priorities
> A, B or C
> V, I or O
> 1-3
> 1-5
> Contexts
> @work
> @home
> @personal
> Time and Dates
> YYYY-MM-DD
> HH:MM
> HH:MMm
> HH:MM-HH:MM
> Example Headings
> (_) A @W 1:30PM-2:00PM Task
> (_) A@W 1:30PM-2:00PM Task
> (_) A W 1:30PM-2:00PM Task
> (_) AW 1:30PM-2:00PM Task
> Example Schedule
> (>) A@W Example Task
> : This is a description of the task.
> Delegated: Larry
> Due: 2005-12-01
> Started: 2005-11-01
> Completion: 10%
> (_) A@W 13:00-14:00 Example Appointment
> : This is a description of the appointment.
> Due: Today
> Start: 13:00
> Duration: 1:00
> (*) A@W 13:00-14:00 Completed Appointment
> : This is a description of the appointment.
> Due: Today
> Start: 13:00
> Duration: 1:00
> Completion: 100%
> Notes
> : Meeting notes.
> Types of time
> start time/date
> stop time/date
> due time/date
> duration

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Mitchell Surface                          CCI Administrator
Fort Wayne Newspapers
(260) 461-8292 - Voice                    (260) 461-8445 - FAX

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.
                                            - Albert Einstein
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Re: VOGTD - Some syntax notes

Noel Henson
On Monday 07 November 2005 02:45 pm, Mitchell Surface wrote:

> On Mon, Nov 07, 2005 at 09:44:20AM -0800, Noel Henson wrote:
> > I'm especially concerned about the syntax and encoding of the most
> > important information on heading lines. This information needs to be
> > simple to interpret yet dense so a user and examine and understand a
> > schedule/todo at a glance; even when all children are folded. You can
> > see some simple examples in the attachment. Just perform a ,,3.
>
> How are you planning to handle projects? I always ran into difficulties
> mixing contexts and statuses.
>

I'm thinking of having VO and VO Checkboxes keep track of the contexts and
projects and coarse status. I think VOGTD should keep track of the fine
status and daily todos and appointments. Take the following with a grain of
salt.  My ideas are not refined yet.

Contexts can be handled by either highest-level headings in VO or in
specified subdirectories in a user's home directory. For example, I have
a directory named 'active' for active work projects and a directory named
'personal' for personal projects. One can imagine having directories also
named 'home' for a home context or whatever else for whatever other
contexts one wishes to have. If keeping things all in VO makes more sense,
one can imaging a master outline that has as its top-level headings the
contexts one wishes.

There is another 'Calendar' outline that would be the control center for
the GTD stuff. This is where the daily schedule and todos are kept.

Scripts mapped to commands would handle the selection and transfer of items
and status amoung the VO and VOGTD files. So when a VOGTD item reaches 100%
completion, that item in appropriate project outline will be checked as
complete. Conversely, a command on a marked heading in a project file will
cause a new, corresponding item to be added to the VOGTD todo list.

These are just rough descriptions of a nebulous solution. I'm trying to get
some feedback and get far enough in a data specification that I can perform
some serious experiments.

Noel

Noel
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Re: VOGTD - Some syntax notes

Steve Litt
In reply to this post by Mitchell Surface
On Monday 07 November 2005 05:45 pm, Mitchell Surface wrote:
[clip]
> How are you planning to handle projects? I always ran into difficulties
> mixing contexts and statuses.

What are contexts and statuses?

Steve Litt
Founder and acting president: GoLUG
http://www.golug.org
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Re: VOGTD - Some syntax notes

Noel Henson
On Tuesday 08 November 2005 05:28 am, Steve Litt wrote:
> On Monday 07 November 2005 05:45 pm, Mitchell Surface wrote:
> [clip]
>
> > How are you planning to handle projects? I always ran into
> > difficulties mixing contexts and statuses.
>
> What are contexts and statuses?
>

A context is an area of your life; like work, home and play.

A status is the disposition of a taks; like unstarted, complete and
on-hold.

Noel

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  www.vimoutliner.org Work fast. Think well.

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Re: VOGTD - Some syntax notes

Ben Armstrong
On Tue, 2005-11-08 at 05:45 -0800, Noel Henson wrote:
A context is an area of your life; like work, home and play.
I understood a context to be the sum of all resources at your disposal to perform an action.  Thus, I could be in a "calls" context as long as I have a phone and my addressbook.

Of course, since many resources take the form of ubiquitous technologies, some limits on when and for how long we allow ourselves to do certain things are necessary, so it is helpful to think more along the lines as you have expressed above: "I'm at work now," I tell my family, (even though so far as they know, I'm sitting at the kitchen table in front of my laptop, and therefore apparently "at home").

Ben


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Re: VOGTD - Some syntax notes

Lucas Gonzalez Santa Cruz
In reply to this post by Noel Henson
> A context is an area of your life; like work, home and play.

IRCC, a "context" (in GTD terms) is a definite _place_ where you
actually can (or cannot) do things.  Phone, computer, downtown, etc.  So
if I'm away from the computer I can't do a number of things, and if I am
in town then I can do several others.

Lucas
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Re: VOGTD - Some syntax notes

Noel Henson
In reply to this post by Ben Armstrong
On Tuesday 08 November 2005 06:30 am, BG - Ben Armstrong wrote:
> On Tue, 2005-11-08 at 05:45 -0800, Noel Henson wrote:
> > A context is an area of your life; like work, home and play.
>
> I understood a context to be the sum of all resources at your disposal
> to perform an action.  Thus, I could be in a "calls" context as long as
> I have a phone and my addressbook.

That's probably a more technically accurate definition.

> Of course, since many resources take the form of ubiquitous
> technologies, some limits on when and for how long we allow ourselves to
> do certain things are necessary, so it is helpful to think more along
> the lines as you have expressed above: "I'm at work now," I tell my
> family, (even though so far as they know, I'm sitting at the kitchen
> table in front of my laptop, and therefore apparently "at home").

I have a problem organizing my todo with this definition. Even though I can
perform both work and personal task whether I'm at home with my laptop or
at work in my office. So I tend to organize by work, home, personal, etc.

>
> Ben

Noel

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  www.vimoutliner.org Work fast. Think well.

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Re: VOGTD - Some syntax notes

Steve Litt
On Tuesday 08 November 2005 09:49 am, Noel Henson wrote:

> On Tuesday 08 November 2005 06:30 am, BG - Ben Armstrong wrote:
> > On Tue, 2005-11-08 at 05:45 -0800, Noel Henson wrote:
> > > A context is an area of your life; like work, home and play.
> >
> > I understood a context to be the sum of all resources at your disposal
> > to perform an action.  Thus, I could be in a "calls" context as long as
> > I have a phone and my addressbook.
>
> That's probably a more technically accurate definition.
>
> > Of course, since many resources take the form of ubiquitous
> > technologies, some limits on when and for how long we allow ourselves to
> > do certain things are necessary, so it is helpful to think more along
> > the lines as you have expressed above: "I'm at work now," I tell my
> > family, (even though so far as they know, I'm sitting at the kitchen
> > table in front of my laptop, and therefore apparently "at home").
>
> I have a problem organizing my todo with this definition. Even though I can
> perform both work and personal task whether I'm at home with my laptop or
> at work in my office. So I tend to organize by work, home, personal, etc.

I'm looking carefully at how this thing comes out. What I have always believed
is that there are some aspects of project management that are not
hierarchical, and therefore not amenable to outlining.

Certainly the most obvious case is scarce resources. Outlines aren't good at
allocating people to tasks in specific ways, nor are they good at determining
a critical path. That's why Gant charts, which are 100x more difficult than
outlines, are still being used.

Another aspect suboptimal to outlining is timing. You track your sales calls
in a tickler file, not in an outline.

Now let me tell you what I think might be interesting, although I'd need to be
convinced to spend the time to actually contribute to it...

Imagine the ability to link several outlines at the HEADLINE level instead of
the OUTLINE level. Perhaps the master outline is tasks, perhaps starting at
(home | work | personal), and then clients (or family members) and then
tasks, followed by subtasks...

That could be linked to another outline, containing much of the same
information, but sorted by date and time, so that you'd know when each thing
was about to "get hot". Perhaps a third outline would be "resources", with
checklist percentage like figures saying what percent of it was in use at a
specific time.

All outlines must be updated in real time (won't that be fun to program).

Looking back at the last 4 paragraphs, I think I've described an unholy mess
not worth bothering with. But if anyone sees a nugget of value in the last 4
paragraphs, by all means keep the discussion going.

SteveT

Steve Litt
Founder and acting president: GoLUG
http://www.golug.org
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Re: VOGTD - Some syntax notes

Mitchell Surface
On Tue, Nov 08, 2005 at 11:49:56AM -0500, Steve Litt wrote:

> On Tuesday 08 November 2005 09:49 am, Noel Henson wrote:
> > On Tuesday 08 November 2005 06:30 am, BG - Ben Armstrong wrote:
> > > On Tue, 2005-11-08 at 05:45 -0800, Noel Henson wrote:
> > > > A context is an area of your life; like work, home and play.
> > >
> > > I understood a context to be the sum of all resources at your
> > > disposal to perform an action.  Thus, I could be in a "calls"
> > > context as long as I have a phone and my addressbook.
> >
> > That's probably a more technically accurate definition.
> >
> > > Of course, since many resources take the form of ubiquitous
> > > technologies, some limits on when and for how long we allow
> > > ourselves to do certain things are necessary, so it is helpful to
> > > think more along the lines as you have expressed above: "I'm at
> > > work now," I tell my family, (even though so far as they know, I'm
> > > sitting at the kitchen table in front of my laptop, and therefore
> > > apparently "at home").
> >
> > I have a problem organizing my todo with this definition. Even
> > though I can perform both work and personal task whether I'm at home
> > with my laptop or at work in my office. So I tend to organize by
> > work, home, personal, etc.
>
> I'm looking carefully at how this thing comes out. What I have always
> believed is that there are some aspects of project management that are
> not hierarchical, and therefore not amenable to outlining.
>

GTD is more about personal management than large scale project
management. Myself, I have a lot more small "projects" that I need to
keep track of than big projects that would justify real project
planning.

> Certainly the most obvious case is scarce resources. Outlines aren't
> good at allocating people to tasks in specific ways, nor are they good
> at determining a critical path. That's why Gant charts, which are 100x
> more difficult than outlines, are still being used.
>

Again, Gantt charts are great for something big enough to require them,
but I can't see making a Gantt chart for "Buy milk at store". :)

> Another aspect suboptimal to outlining is timing. You track your sales
> calls in a tickler file, not in an outline.
>

Tickler file functionality is something that I would like to see
incorporated into VoGTD (or whatever it's going to be called). Possibly
a script that generates Next Actions lists and a Start Date field in
the main outline.

> Now let me tell you what I think might be interesting, although I'd
> need to be convinced to spend the time to actually contribute to it...
>
> Imagine the ability to link several outlines at the HEADLINE level
> instead of the OUTLINE level. Perhaps the master outline is tasks,
> perhaps starting at (home | work | personal), and then clients (or
> family members) and then tasks, followed by subtasks...
>
> That could be linked to another outline, containing much of the same
> information, but sorted by date and time, so that you'd know when each
> thing was about to "get hot". Perhaps a third outline would be
> "resources", with checklist percentage like figures saying what
> percent of it was in use at a specific time.
>
> All outlines must be updated in real time (won't that be fun to
> program).
>
> Looking back at the last 4 paragraphs, I think I've described an
> unholy mess not worth bothering with. But if anyone sees a nugget of
> value in the last 4 paragraphs, by all means keep the discussion
> going.
>
> SteveT

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Mitchell Surface                          CCI Administrator
Fort Wayne Newspapers
(260) 461-8292 - Voice                    (260) 461-8445 - FAX

Don't just do something. Stand there.
                                            - Rochelle Myer
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