Total, Relaxed Organization
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Articles, Research, Tips
Our collection of original articles and research on time management, GTD, and TRO, plus helpful video, links, tips, and tricks. Enjoy.
15 Minute Coach: Managing Your Tasks
To get the full benefits of the Trog Bar, you need to understand a few basic principles of Total, Relaxed Organization™. As you apply these principles and rely on the TROG Bar, you should begin to feel relief immediately.
In the Next 15 Minutes You Will Learn...
- Entering Tasks in Trog (3 minutes)
- "Processing" Tasks in Trog (8 minutes)
- Managing Tasks in Trog (4 minutes)
Stress comes not from the number of items you have to manage, but from juggling them, keeping them active in your mind. To eliminate the stress, you just need to put them into a trustworthy system that will notify you at the appropriate time. Once they are in the system, you can forget about them until you are notified. This clears your mind.
If you're afraid to do this, haven't been using a system you can trust.
Trog is trustworthy. You can rely completely on it to track your tasks and keep you focused on your work. Unlike your brain, Trog doesn't leak information or get stressed. Put your tasks in Trog and trust the system to show you the right tasks at the right time.
First, you need to collect your tasks. If you don't gather them into one place, you will lose track of them. Collect your tasks as soon as they occur to you, rather than letting them bounce around in your head. To collect a task, simply type it into the Scratchpad and press Ctrl+Enter or click the "Add" link. This puts your task in the "Unprocessed Tasks" list.
Second, you need to process your tasks, meaning that you know three things:
- What next step is to accomplish the task,
- When you would like to do the next step, and
- Where any supporting materials are located.
By knowing this, everything is set for you to work on the next step at the right time. The task is off your mind until then, so you aren't distracted. Internal resistance disappears. In other words, "processing" prepares all of your work to just happen, at the right time.
To process your tasks, click on the text that says "Unprocessed Tasks (##)" as shown above. This shows all your tasks which still lack either a category or a date. Then click the task at the top and enter the following information in the task pop-out screen:
The project name with next step. Just enter this as a single line in the Subject of the task ("My Project: The next step"). This single-line approach is amazingly time-efficient. The project name describes the big picture end result, like "Family Vacation". The "next step" is the very next thing you need to do, and it doesn't depend on anything else to happen before you can do it. Examples:
Family Vacation: Reserve beach house
Annual Sales Mtg: Prepare handouts
Assign a category. Categories group tasks that should be thought of and completed together. These can be general areas of your life, like "Work," or they can be specific activities, like meeting agendas (@Meeting).
Assign at least one date. Pick any of the date fields and fill in at least one of them. Each field has a specific meaning, which you can change if you wish. Your settings may differ, but this is what we suggest for the TRO system:
- "Due Date" is a priority date. It represents a loose goal for when you'd like to complete the task.
- "Start Date" hides a task from your lists until that day arrives.
- Reminder means "Do on this day." Use this date if you scheduled the task for that day or if the task needs to be done on that day.
Make sure that your options are set to reflect your system. If in doubt, open the Options screen and verify that your settings are correct by clicking on the plus (+) sign on the upper-right corner of the Trog Bar.
Click the picture above to enlarge
Process all of your tasks by assigning categories and dates to the items. You should empty the Unprocessed Tasks list at least every other day if you want to stay on top of your tasks.
Once your tasks are processed, Trog lets you easily view the most appropriate tasks for any time.
Click the Task List Selection button to select the type of tasks to view, or choose the TaskSense option (clock button) to have Trog build the best list for the current time. You can also right click an appointment in the appointment list and choose Show Related Tasks to see the best tasks for that appointment.
This helps you stay focused on what you should be doing right now (like work, when you are at work) instead of being distracted by tasks which you can't do anything about at the moment (like filing your personal insurance claims).
Your tasks are sorted within their lists based on the dates you assigned. With TRO settings, anything with a reminder date of today will be at the top and in bold. Next, you should see tasks that Trog recommends to be done in the next few days (loosely based on the loose goal dates you set). Anything whose start date has not arrived will not appear on the list.
(Important! Trog doesn't make you continually shift your loose goal dates for tasks. It looks at all dates in the aggregate and other factors to decide what's important next. Simply enter the date once, and in most cases it never needs to be changed.)
The categories you choose are also important. Categories relate to the next step, not the project, so you should change them as the steps change. Select categories based on work location or type of work, like "Calls" or "Errands". Choose as many categories as apply to the next step.
One cool category is the "Meeting Agenda" category. Assign a rule (for TRO we suggest @*, where the * is the meeting name) in the Options screen. This rule tells Trog which categories are agenda items for meetings. Trog hides those agenda items from your general task lists until the right time. When you get to the meeting, pull up the meeting category to see agenda. Not only does it generate automatically, but it is also automatically prioritized.
Don't Stop Now...
For best results and the full benefits of Trog Bar, visit our TRO Online Training. TRO Online puts you in total control of your workload and time—step-by-step, with no nonsense. Then it makes sure you develop comfortable, long-lasting habits.