GTD and Remember the Milk: Lists and Smart Lists tips and gotchas

I read a comment in a forum (think it was in the RTM forums but can’t find it again) that there really was no difference between Lists and saved searches (AKA: Smart Lists).  I have to take exception to that because there is a huge difference:  you can’t move items to a Smart List.   One of the ideas of GTD is getting your Inbox to empty.   In RTM you can’t do that if you are simply relying on tags. 

The Inbox

There is one work-around which is creating a Smart List Inbox which you can set to only have those items that haven’t been tagged yet.  If you’re using Smart Lists and tags as your way of organizing things you’d be tagging everything with a context when you process your inbox.   You would set up your Inbox Smart List to only show those items that haven’t been tagged yet.  I’ve been experimenting with this and it seems to work well since you can set that new Inbox as the default tab when you log in.

The biggest issue here is that you can’t get rid of the RTM-provided Inbox.  It would certainly be nice if there were an option to hide it.

Project Lists

I’ve also set up two Smart Lists for projects. One shows work-related projects and the other shows personal projects.  At work all of my projects are tagged with a bug ticket so I can use that in the project’s tag ie: p-alpha-456.  I also set up the main project task with a priority level of 1.  I then set up my Smart List for work like ‘tagContains: p-alpha AND priority:1’.  This insures that the Smart List only shows the high-level projects I’m currently working on.  

I do the same thing for personal projects.  The Smart List is set up along the lines of: ‘tagContains: p- NOT tagContains:p-alpha AND priority:1’.  Again this shows me the current high-level personal projects.


My contexts are also set up as Smart Lists with a simple ‘tag: <context name>’.  Not much else to say here since every task will eventually get tagged with a context and show up on the appropriate Smart List.


So far this system is working well in the all of 3 days or so I’ve been trying it 😉 I’m sure it will get tweaker further but things seem to be flowing nicely.

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