43 Folders

Back to Work

Merlin’s weekly podcast with Dan Benjamin. We talk about creativity, independence, and making things you love.

Join us via RSS, iTunes, or at 5by5.tv.

”What’s 43 Folders?”
43Folders.com is Merlin Mann’s website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.

Three cool tricks in Kinkless GTD

Herewith for your approval, a few handy tricks I've been discovering for getting the most out of the peerless Omni Outliner Pro/kGTD combo.

And don't forget -- as noted last week -- through the end of this month, when you buy any OmniOutliner product from the OmniGroup site, you can use the checkout code 43FOLDERS to get 25% off your order. Disco!

1. "Hiding" fallow projects

In last Thursday's podcast, "Fallow Projects and the Bread Crumb Trail", I mentioned how I like to move stalled or clinically-dead projects off my immediate radar screen; it makes it so much easier to focus when only actionable stuff is being tracked actively. Anyhow, lots of people asked for more details on that, so here you go.

In kGTD, you want to create a holding pen for these sick animals by generating a new top-level Project and calling it, say, "Fallow Projects #" (or whatever you prefer, but do include the "pound") then scooting all those moribund projects thereunder. Cool enough, but, here comes the nifty.

There's an undocumented feature in kGTD (what, Ethan, now you're copying a1c0r?) that's not at all well known. If you type a pound sign ("#") at the end of a project's name, kGTD will set that project as "inactive," meaning that any child tasks -- or, awesomely, child projects -- will not have their tasks populated into context lists, next actions, or iCal calendars.

This is really useful in practice, because, say you have a project going great guns, with 5 sub-projects and manifest next actions popping up all over the place. But, then, for whatever reason -- perhaps the notional rodeo maiming mentioned in the podcast -- you need to flash freeze the project in situ for an unknown period of time. This solution lets you move things out of your way -- as-is -- so you don't have to undo all your work to date by flipping off individual contexts or, God forbid, deleting the projects and then needing to start over later. It's all still there ready to be reanimated simply by moving the sub-project out of the inactive parent. Sexy time.

2. Color your world

In "KGTD Settings," when you first set the "Calendars to Create or Sync with," you select the contexts that you want to appear in iCal as well as the names for each calendar. Handy enough. What you may not know is that, if kGTD is creating the iCal calendars from scratch, you can also select the color of each calendar as it will appear in iCal. Yay, pretty.

Just select the line with the calendar you want to colorify, and hit CMD-1 to bring up the "Appearance" palette. Click the "Background Color" button and select the color you like.

While being semantically useless, it's a nice way to create visual similarity in related calendars. You could even use it as a kind of meta-category beyond what you do already with calendar groups. Maybe all the things you can do in a parked car are "Seagreen" and all the tasks that require a flat surface are "Darkslateblue." Be creative. Or, you know, just color for fun.

(NB: this only works when kGTD is creating calendars that don't yet exist in iCal. Use care when deleting existing calendars in order to play with this trick; remember "calls" can be non-kGTD appointments, right? Right.).

3. That curious "Twin" button

Averse as the average adult human is to reading documentation, it's perhaps not surprising that every single kGTD user I know (except you, of course; you're really smart) has no idea what that "Twin" button in their document bar does. Perhaps it generates a doppelganger, phones Hayley Mills, or adds a side-splitting DeVito/Schwarzenegger movie to your Netflix queue. Gratefully, "No," "No," and "Holy crap, no."

The "Twin" button is simply a fast way to move back and forth between a synced task's dual lives as 1) the child of a Project, and 2) a constituent of a given context-based list.

Remember the idea of kGTD is to plan in Projects and then work in contexts. But the occasional moving back and forth becomes a breeze when you place your cursor in any synced task then mash the "Twin" button. Try it. It's really cool, and now you'll be using it all the time, confident of no Schwarzenegger-related media involvement whatsoever.

About Merlin

Merlin's picture


Merlin Mann is an independent writer, speaker, and broadcaster. He’s best known for being the guy who created the website you’re reading right now. He lives in San Francisco, does lots of public speaking, and helps make cool things like You Look Nice Today, Back to Work, and Kung Fu Grippe. Also? He’s writing this book, he lives with this face, he suffers from this hair, he answers these questions, and he’s had this life. So far.

Merlin’s favorite thing he’s written in the past few years is an essay entitled, “Cranking.”




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


Subscribe with Google Reader

Subscribe on Netvibes

Add to Technorati Favorites

Subscribe on Pageflakes

Add RSS feed

The Podcast Feed


Merlin used to crank. He’s not cranking any more.

This is an essay about family, priorities, and Shakey’s Pizza, and it’s probably the best thing he’s written. »

Scared Shitless

Merlin’s scared. You’re scared. Everybody is scared.

This is the video of Merlin’s keynote at Webstock 2011. The one where he cried. You should watch it. »