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Is an outliner necessary?

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  • Is an outliner necessary?

    Hi gang,

    I've been doing GTD for about a month now (Green Belt, I guess), and I have a question regarding outliners. Are they really necessary? I see so many people raving about Bonsai and ShadowPlan.

    I'm using a plain vanilla system (similar to PigPog) with a sync to Outlook. Nowhere in this system is there room for an outliner. If I were to use an outliner somewhere in this process, it would have to be external to the usual Outlook/PalmVanilla synchronization, and thus copied manually to relevant projects in the ToDo list. (ShadowPlan does this automatically, I hear)

    Is there room in this 'plain vanilla' implementation to insert an outliner, or would it just be too much technology and not enough focus on actually getting things done?

    I'd be really curious to hear from those of you who actively use outliners on a daily basis. Thanks!!

  • #2
    Choose your own tools.

    GTD needs only the effective and 100%-reliable off-brain memory system for your lists and reference files. Everybody has to choose the implementation that he feels most comfortable with. So if you don't need an outliner - do not use it.
    GTD is a process to free your mind from details - not the process of evaluation of different software tools and gadgets.


    • #3
      Outliners are helpful for breaking down multistep projects. If the project is "Clean house" then it can be broken down into "Clean kitchen," "Clean bathroom," etc.; and these can be further atomized if necessary. When finished you can identify all of your one-step next actions, which can go onto a context list (which can be an outline in itself).

      Outliners are helpful but not necessary. I only use them myself when I don't have a piece of paper with me and only have my Treo. I find it better to make on outline, then transfer only the NAs to a flat context list (paper, Palm Memo, Palm ToDo, etc.), then discard the outline.

      My main gripe about outliners is that they're too complicated for my taste (though Listmaker is relatively straightforward). It's amazing that, after all these years, PalmOne hasn't updated the default ToDo program to indent and collaspe items for heirarchical lists.


      • #4

        Very insightful posts, thanks!!

        I tend to agree with you, Gameboy70 -- I prefer outlining on paper...