GTD Gorilla

Anatomy of a Gorilla Part 1: the Home tiddler

Posted in Uncategorized by L Black on 2009/11/13

Yesterday I set up and loaded the bare bones of my GTD system on the tiddlyspot site associated with this blog.

As promised, I will begin explaining the setup I use and the reasons for it, starting with the most obvious feature: the Home tiddler.

(On the linked site, the default tiddler is a welcome screen with a link through to Home, but on my real-life setup the default is to just go straight to Home — I might also change this on the tiddlyspot example sometime in the future but for now I thought it might make more sense with a welcome screen.)

The idea of a Home tiddler is certainly not my own. I actually got this from a post on the MPTW blog which linked to a site run by Asmor. The basic idea is to make a single default tiddler, eg Home, and then create top-level tiddlers by clicking ‘new here’ within home. This begins a hierarchical structure and can be extended indefinitely by doing the same thing within the various tiddlers that link back to Home. It looks like a traditional folder/tree structure, but the big difference is the platform. Because tiddlywiki/MPTW is a non-linear document type, you can easily combine the benefits of traditional hierarchy with the efficiency of gmail-style tagging.

Asmor’s site is well worth a read. When I read it, it certainly had a big influence on how I organised my own offline MPTW pages. But once I implemented and fell in love with this approach, the thought occurred to me: why do I have this setup on my various MPTW documents and a completely different setup on my mGTD document? Why have several documents at all? Why NOT combine them all AND incorporate Asmor’s Home tiddler into the bargain?

Well, that’s what I did and I have to say, it worked great.

My mGTD doesn’t really look much like a GTD setup at all, on first glance, because the Home tiddler in the ‘live’ version (my main offline document) is full of links to various notes and other tiddlywiki content that have nothing much to do with my current actions, projects, etc. Once I get round to posting some sample tiddlers, you’ll be able to see what I mean.

Originally, I’d kept the Home tiddler completely separate from my GTD setup, even though they lived in the same file. If I wanted to edit or read my notes, I would use the Home tiddler to navigate to the note/s in question, but if I wanted anything GTD-ish, I’d use the sidebar controls to get to that sort of content. Then it occurred to me that it was actually a good idea to install some controls on my Home tiddler to be able to get to the GTD content that I wanted as well as the non-GTD content, all from the same place.

The most recent refinement of that idea was to have important/urgent GTD stuff as well as potential issues/problems appear on the Home tiddler up the top, followed by the GTD ‘buttons’, followed by my various note categories. Too cluttered for your liking? Well, it’s easy to change back to any point between complete GTD-data separation and complete GTD-data integration. All I can say is that the current setup is what I find most useful, so that is what I’ll stay with … until I change my mind 🙂 that is.


First post: basic setup complete

Posted in Uncategorized by L Black on 2009/11/06

Wow, how’s that for a fascinating title?  But it is at least accurate.  Today I made the (more or less) minimum number of changes required to turn the default MonkeyGTD 3.0 Alpha page into something that looks sort of like the system I use for real.  It doesn’t really make any sense yet because I haven’t got any data in there — I’ll get round to that soon — but here it is anyhow.  Of course by the time this blog actually has anyone reading it, the Gorilla will be more or less “finished” (whatever that means).

In the first round of posts after this one, I will address the following:

  • adding data so that you can actually see stuff going on and making some sort of sense
  • explaining the how and why of the elements I’ve already added: mainly Home, Overdue, Commitments, Work and Review, Information and Projects.
  • adding more code and documenting the reasons for these additional functions/features
  • generally discussing how I personally choose to Get Things Done (be warned: it isn’t pure GTD orthodoxy, sorry if that offends you or makes the voices in your head worse and/or louder)
  • (eventually) providing an empty, downloadable version without sample actions, projects, etc — but only if anyone actually tells me they want it, otherwise not much point and I’d rather not bother

(Oh and by the way, if you haven’t already worked it out for yourself — it’s called GTD Gorilla because it started out as a nice, lean Monkey and got so bloated with code and stuff that it has now become an overgrown monkey which finds it gets asked less questions if it masquerades as a gorilla … duh!)