Friday, February 1

Mail.app in Leopard, GTD, and how I made things a bit more efficient.

I was using (and still do) use Mutt to read my email when I am remote and don't have access to a descent connection.  (Which seems to happen alot to me lately for some reason).  So what I do is ssh back home and run mutt in screen.  Great.  Works fine.  You also may remember from a previous post about how I keep my Next Actions list in Vim on a separate screen.

Welp, I found out two things:
1)  Mutt doesn't render images well, (read: at all) and it's a bit difficult to automate the opening of things via mailcap if you are remote.  Therefore, what good does it do me?  Well the advantage of mutt was the ability to use macros to automatically file things at a push of a button.  Mail.app doesn't have this functionality by default.  Then I watched Merlin Mann's presentation that I have posted on the blog as well, and he turned me onto a program called "Mail Act-On", a free plugin for Mail.app.

Essentially this program allows you to create "macros" for filing your email (or for doing ANYTHING to it, coloring it red, filing it in a folder, flagging it, whatever).  So, I said "hey, let's take a look at how we are doing things here".  Can we make this even more efficient, and better looking.  

I have been using Mail.app since I first started using a Mac and I love it.  It's a simple easy to use Mail client that did what I wanted it to do.  Just in Leopard, it got alot better.  The ability to have Notes and To-Do's, with the ability for To-Do's to sync with iCal was it for me.

So, I got rid of both Mutt (i'll still use it for the above purposes, like I said, but for everyday use, I am going to Mail.app) and my vim outliner next-action items list.

So what did I do?  Well, I created a Note in Notes for every context I have "@home", "@work", "@waiting", "@someday" you get the picture.  In each of these Notes in their appropriate context's I put my Projects.   But this time instead of indenting and using my "--", "?-" system, I just type what I need to do, highlight it, and click on "To-Do".  It makes a nice To-Do and I can set priorities, due dates, even drag these ToDo's into iCal for a specific date and time.

Seemless, much easier and less to maintain.  That's what it should be about.  Don't let your GTD solution run you, you need to be running it.

Bonus feature?  If an email comes in that needs a Todo created out of it, I highlight the text, click To-do, and it's in my system for tracking.  Very nice.

I did ask Apple for two things though their bug system tho.  The ability to Nest To-Do's, and the ability to sync Notes and To-Do's with my iPhone.

Now, alot of people ask me (I get alot of emails about my posts, I think people are afraid of using the comment system.  Which is fine, either way you want to do it, of course I encourage you to use the comment system so that everyone may benefit from your thoughts as well.  Plus it's a great place to put the URL of your blog) how I take my To-Do's with me.  Well, if I am going to the store, and I want the shopping list to go with me, I'll send an email to myself and let it sit in the inbox.  That way I just check my email on my iPhone and there's my list.  

This will all be fixed when Apple implements all the feature requests I have asked for. 
1. To-Do Syncing with Leopard and the iPhone 
2. Notes syncing with Leopard and the iPhone
3. To-Do, Contacts, and Calendar syncing with .Mac
4. Notes Syncing with Stickies (the other notes app in OSX)
5.  The ability to nest to-do's.  (arrange To-Do's by a project)

Hopefully Apple takes some ideas to heart and implements them.  However it won't be good until you can sync all that stuff OTA.  Wirelessly.  Even via Bluetooth would be awesome.  That way I don't have to find a cable, plug it in, yuck.  

I don't want to sync my songs that way, just my contacts, calendars, notes, and todo's!  It would take forever to sync songs and videos.  I don't care.  I just want the ability to be in my office (and my iPhone, which sits in the kitchen), and my wife and I are getting ready to walk out the door, and I can fire up iSync, click Sync, my iPhone syncs with my laptop, and I grab the thing and walk out the door.


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1 comment:

yitping said...

This is the same way I am using Apple Mail.app as well. Instead of a note for each context, I use a note to keep track of actions for each project. When an action of a project is marked as to-do, they can be further tagged with different iCal calendar (e.g. @home, @work, etc) to represent different context.