GTD System To Manage Your Life in .TXT

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[edit] Introduction

The path to Getting Things Done requires above all things a system. The problem with available systems and software out there is that they cannot be easily used across platforms, and many are tied to particular, proprietary file formats. Using plain text files, however, allows the GTD'er to move his or her list to any computer or device he wishes.

This system, introudced by Lifehacker Editor Gina Trapani, is meant to provide the most amount of flexibility to the user, while adhering to the Getting Things Done framework.

[edit] Overview

Managing your life in .txt does not require too much; it only needs a computer and the ability to run shell scripts running under a UNIX environment. Luckily, it is easy to find a UNIX environment on whatever computer you are running these days. Max OS/X has it, Microsoft Windows can have it, with Cygwin installed, and Linux and UNIX-based systems of course have it.

Originally released as a group of different scripts, Lifehacker readers worked on and improved the script, merging all the functions into one shell script. This reader-written todo manager is currently in version 1.3.

Organizing your todo list through the use of text files is quite easy and straight-forward. You can begin by opening a text editor and entering each todo on a separate line. Like this:
take out the trash

Looking at that line, you realize you do not own any trash cans, so you may need to add another item to your list:
purchase trash cans
and then you remember that you also need to call your mother (probably because it was always her that made you take out the trash), so you add that, and now you have three tasks:

take out the trash
purchase trash cans
call mom

Starting to get a little crowded in our todo list, isn't it? To help you organize the list, you will want to assign each task to a project, and also to a place or method of how you will perform the task, using 'p' to denote the former and '@' for the latter For instance, the trash could be part of the ongoing project 'chores' and you will probably want to call mom while you are near a phone, so you make the following changes:

take out the trash p:chores @home
purchase trash cans p:chores @errand
call mom @phone

Calling mom does not seem to fit into a project, so it was left out. You could however, create a 'personal' project for items like that, if you so desire.

[edit] Getting Started

Check out all of the todo.txt-related scripts and articles located at

[edit] See Also

[edit] Internal Links

[edit] External Resources: The Original Life in .txt Posts by Lifehacker Gina Trapani

[edit] External and Integrating Tools

  • Toodledo - a web-based todo manager that allows for the import and export of text files.

[edit] Support Applications

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