ActionComplete GTD Toolkit For Web

User Manual

Introduction

Concepts and Terminology

Task Types: Actions, Waits, Projects, Ideas

Metadata: Tags and Places

Urgency: Due Date

Importance: Weight

Reminders

User Interface

How To

Create a Task

View Task Details

Edit a Task

Check Off a Task

Delete a Task

Change Task Type

Create a Recurring/Repeating Task

Quickly Add a Task to a Project

Duplicate a Project

Attach a Google Drive Document to a Task

Filter Tasks

Quickly Apply a Project Filter

Sort Tasks

Manage Tags

Manage Places

Customize ActionComplete Appearance and Behavior

Default Weight

Calendars

Calendar Mode

Week Start

Notification Method

Language

Accept Tasks from

Email Alias

Panel Order

Default Reminder Type

Date Format

Time Format

Nag me (TM)

Acknowledge Incoming Tasks

Reset Weight on Type Change

Email a Task to ActionComplete

Export Tasks from ActionComplete

Export File Format

Import Tasks into ActionComplete

Introduction

ActionComplete helps people around the world become purposeful, effective, and successful in career, relationships, and other aspects of life.

The hallmark of ActionComplete GTD Toolkit is its streamlined yet flexible and sophisticated task management approach that enables people of all walks of life to take a firm grip on their tasks, assignments, errands, and to-dos and put a stop to leaks through the cracks.

ActionComplete GTD Toolkit is designed to stay close to the vision of the Getting Things Done book by David Allen. ActionComplete does not claim to be a "full implementation" of GTD. Rather, it takes its key elements and leverages them in an efficient and simple to use way.

Concepts and Terminology

Task Types: Actions, Waits, Projects, Ideas

Most of the terminology used in ActionComplete should be intuitively understandable to a person familiar with the GTD methodology.

The four key concepts in ActionComplete are:

An Action is something that needs to be done or otherwise requires your attention for the time being, for example, a phone call to make, an item to buy, or a doctor appointment to schedule. An Action can exist by itself or be a part of a Project.

A Project is something that requires more that one step before it can be completed. A Project can have child Actions and/or Waits.

A Wait is something we are waiting for from somebody after we delegated something to that person.

An Idea is a catch-all bucket for sudden recollections, interim thoughts, and everything else that's on your mind but requires some contemplation before you are ready to act upon it.

Metadata: Tags and Places

ActionComplete provides a way for you to associate different types of supporting information with each task. It enables you to deal with all aspects of your life that require attention whilst being able to focus on any specific one at a given moment in time. ActionComplete does this by allowing you to attach metadata to each Action, Project, Wait or Idea.

The metadata can be used to filter your lists to get a crisp picture of a particular aspect of your life, prepare an agenda for a particular person, or view things that need to be done at a particular place.

ActionComplete supports two types of metadata: tags and places.

A Tag is a short text that you use to create a a category, describe an area of responsibility, or label something for easy access. Among other things you can use tags as your GTD contexts such as "@home", "@work", "@phone", "@computer", "out and about", etc.

A Place is a physical place where an action (wait, project, idea) has to happen. If you enable the integration with your Android phone, you can reap the benefits of location-based notifications on your phone.

Urgency: Due Date

You can assign a due date to any task. Remember that according to GTD, tasks that need to be done at a particular time constitute a part of your "hard landscape" and should generally appear in your calendar.

Importance: Weight

ActionComplete uses the notion of weight to signify the relative importance or priority of tasks. Tasks are color-coded depending on their weight for easy visual identification. The colors represent various weight ranges as follows: 0 -19: blue, 20 - 39: green, 40 - 59: yellow, 60 - 79: orange, 80 - 99: red. Tasks with the greater weight value are considered more important.

Reminders

You can use reminders to setup audible and visual alerts at specified times or have ActionComplete send you an email.

User Interface

ActionComplete is a rich Internet application. It means that the user experience is very close to good old desktop applications we all came to love. Only better because there is nothing to install and your data is available from any Internet-enabled computer.

The one and only page of ActionComplete web application consists of the status/notification bar, menu bar, filter toolbar, the task area, and the calendar area.

The notification bar displays ActionComplete news and announcements, as well as brief status messages describing what's currently going on in the application.

The menu bar contains the main application menu similar to a typical desktop application. The menu is the central access point to various application features.

The filter toolbar is used for filtering your tasks so that you can get a clear view of a certain area of your life.

The task area hosts four task panels - Actions, Waits, Projects, and Ideas - arranged in three columns. You can customize the panel layout and order via Layout menu and Panel Order option.

ActionComplete remembers panel positions as well as filter and sort selections so that next time you sign in to the application you start where you left off, even if you sign in from a different computer.

You can setup the calendar panel to the right of the task panel to show up to five calendars of yours. You select the calendars to display in the Calendars option. Initially no calendars are selected and the calendar panel shows this manual.

The calendar panel is only displayed when your browser window is at least 1440 pixels wide.

How To

The following sections describe everything you can do with ActionComplete.

Create a Task

To create a task of a particular type, click the plus icon at the top menu of the corresponding task panel. It'll bring up the New Task form (the title will say New Action, New Wait, etc depending on the type of task you are about to create).

In the New Task dialog you describe your task using the Name field as well as provide as much or as little additional information as you deem appropriate. For actions and waits you can specify a parent project, enter some notes, select a due date, assign a weight, as well as attach up to five tags and five places.

As a convenience feature, you can type a non-existent tag or place, and AC will create one for you when the task is saved.

For every type of task you can create a reminder by selecting the desired date and time. If you specify the reminder date only, the time part defaults to midnight. If you specify the reminder time only, the date part defaults to the due date, if specified, or today's date otherwise.

You can create two types of reminders: pop-up reminders and email reminders. Pop-up and email reminders work differently.

A pop-up reminder triggers a popup window that you can use to reschedule (snooze) the reminder or check off the task. Unless you do one or the other the reminder will show up again and again.

An email reminder is cleared once the reminder email was sent out.

The reminder email can be used to check off the corresponding task. To mark the task complete reply to the reminder email, type the word done (DONE, DOne, DoNe, ...) in the body, and send the email. When the email reaches ActionComplete the corresponding task is checked off.

View Task Details

Once a task is created it appears on the screen as a sticky note colored according to the task weight. If you click the plus sign on the left of the task panel, the note expands to display the task toolbar as well as all the information attached to it such as due date, weight, notes, associated tags, and so on.

The task toolbar allows you to invoke various actions on the task such as edit, delete, and convert to a different type. For projects you can also duplicate the project as well as add a subordinate action or wait.

Edit a Task

The easiest way to bring up the task edit form is to click the task name. Alternatively you can expand the task via the plus sign and click the Edit button.

Check Off a Task

To mark a task as complete you click the tick mark on the sticky note. You can check off actions, waits, and projects. If you want to check off an idea, first convert it to a different task type by dragging it to a different task panel.

To hide completed tasks uncheck Show Completed Tasks option.

Completed tasks are automatically deleted 30 days after completion. To keep track of the completed tasks for a longer period you can export them either as a CSV file or as a printer-friendly HTML that can be both saved and printed.

Delete a Task

To delete a task expand the task details panel via the plus sign next to the task name and click the Delete button.

Change Task Type

The easiest way to change a task type is to drag the task where it belongs. Alternatively you can click the Convert button in the task details panel and select the type of task it should be converted to.

Create a Recurring/Repeating Task

Recurring tasks are tasks that are auto-generated on completion according to a set schedule.

At this time ActionComplete supports 3 recurrence patterns: daily, weekly, and monthly. A daily pattern allows you to specify the task recurrence interval in days. A weekly pattern allows you to select days of the week when a task is supposed to happen. A monthly pattern allows you to select the day of the month when the task is due.

Recurrence can be setup for actions and waits only.

To specify a recurrence pattern you click the Recurrence tab on New/Edit Action/Wait form and select a pattern.

In addition to the recurrence pattern you can specify when to start the recurrence, when to end it, and whether to create a reminder for the new occurrence of the task.

You can setup the recurrence pattern when creating a new task or attach the recurrence to an existing task.

When you create a recurring task that has neither a due date nor a reminder, the recurrence pattern is triggered after the task is marked complete.

Otherwise, i.e. when a new task does have a due date or a reminder, they are used for the new task.

The recurrence pattern is triggered when a task is checked off. The new occurrence of the task will have a due date and optionally a reminder calculated based on the selected recurrence pattern.

It's important to understand that ActionComplete will not generate a new occurrence of a task before the current occurrence is marked complete. In other words, if you have a daily task setup, it's crucial to do and check off the task every day.

You can check off a task before it's due. In such a case the new occurrence will be created based on the recurrence pattern on the date that follows the current task due date.

If you convert a recurring action or wait to a project or idea the recurrence will be lost.

Quickly Add a Task to a Project

To quickly add an action or a wait to a project expand project details panel and click Add Action or Add Wait button. These convenience options open New Action/Wait screen with metadata fields pre-populated with the project's metadata.

Duplicate a Project

If you often find yourself performing the same set of tasks, you’ll find project copy feature handy. Project copy feature allows you to easily create a new project out of an existing one and copy over all of its tasks.

To create a copy of an existing project:

  1. Expand the project you want to copy.
  2. Click the Copy button.

Notes

Attach a Google Drive Document to a Task

Attachments tab allows you to link a task to up to five Google Drive files. The files can be documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and any other files created in or uploaded to Google Drive.

To attach a document:

  1. Type a few letters in the search box and click the Search Google Drive button. Search area is populated with up to 20 matching documents.
  2. Select documents you want to attach with the checkboxes and click Attach Selected button below the search area. The attached documents are displayed in the space below.

To detach a document from the task click the Delete button next to the document.

Another way to link a task to a Google Drive document is to email the task to your ActionComplete email address. If the body of the email is longer than 300 characters ActionComplete automatically creates an attachment and links it to the new task.

ActionComplete automatically converts long notes to attachments. If a note is more than 300 characters long it is converted to a Google Drive document that is attached to the task being created or modified.

Filter Tasks

The filter toolbar is located below the main menu.

The filter toolbar contains 5 lists that you can use to slice and dice your tasks as needed.

The drop-down lists in the filter toolbar allow you to filter by tag, place, weight, due date, and project.

Tag, place, weight, and due date filters work similarly and apply to all types of tasks.

Project filter is semantically different from other filters in two aspects:

  1. It exists in the context of the primary filters, i.e. only projects satisfying the primary filter conditions are present in the drop-down.
  2. It applies to actions and waits only.

To reset a particular filter, select <any ...> option from the drop-down list. To reset all filters at once, click the Reset button to the right of the Due Date filter. To reset Project filter, click the Reset button to the right of the Project filter.

Quickly Apply a Project Filter

To quickly filter actions and waits on a particular project click the task summary line for that project. The task summary line is the line below project name that typically reads m action(s), n wait(s).

Sort Tasks

While filters generally apply to all task types, you can choose a sort order for a particular task type independently for greater flexibility in task presentation.

You can sort the tasks in every panel by name, urgency, importance, and task update date/time in both ascending and descending directions.

NB: The measure of urgency is due date and the measure of importance is weight.

Manage Tags

Tags window is accessed via Tools/Tags... menu option and allows you to manage your tags. You can create, view, modify, and delete tags as needed.

The Tags window has a toolbar and the list of tags in the left pane and the tag details area on the right.

To create a tag click the New Tag icon in the toolbar above the tag list, fill in the form that appears, and click OK. Name is the only mandatory field.

To edit a tag first select the tag in the tag list on the left. When that's done, the right panel is populated with the details of the selected tag. An additional toolbar appears on top of the tag details view. Click the Edit button, modify the information in the form that appears, and click OK.

To delete a tag, select the tag in the list on the left, click the Delete button in the tag details toolbar, and confirm.

Tag details view shows the tag name, notes, if available, as well as gives a summary view of all the tasks marked with the tag.

Manage Places

Places window is accessed via Tools/Places... menu option and allows you to manage your places. You can create, view, modify, and delete places as needed.

The Places window has a toolbar and the list of places in the left pane and the place details area on the right.

To create a place click the New Place icon in the toolbar above the place list, fill in the form that appears, and click OK. Place name is the only mandatory field.

To edit a place first select the place in the place list on the left. When that's done, the right panel is populated with the details of the selected place. An additional toolbar appears on top of the place details view. Click the Edit button, modify the information in the form that appears, and click OK.

To delete a place, select the place in the list on the left, click the Delete button in the place details toolbar, and confirm.

Place details view shows the place name, address, if available, as well as gives a summary view of all the tasks marked with the place.

Customize ActionComplete Appearance and Behavior

Options (Tools/Options...) allow you to customize the appearance and behavior of the application.

Default Weight

Default Weight option specifies the initial value of the weight for new tasks. You can choose among one of the following options: 10, 30, 50, 70, 90.

Calendars

Calendars option allows you to choose the calendars to display alongside your tasks. You can select up to 5 calendars. The calendar panel is displayed to the right of your tasks if at least one calendar is selected in the Calendars option and the browser window is at least 1440 pixels wide.

Calendar Mode

Calendar Mode option specifies the default calendar mode. It can be Week, Month, or Agenda.

Week Start

Week Start option defines the starting day of the week for calendar display. It can be set to Sunday, Monday, or Saturday.

Notification Method

Notification Method option allows you to choose - or opt out of - the audible signal accompanying the reminder popup window. The options are None (no audible notification), Voice (You've got things to do) and Sound (chime) reminder notification.

Language

Language option allows you to select the language of the user interface.

Accept Tasks from

Accept Tasks from option allows you to specify additional email addresses that are allowed to email you tasks. Your ActionComplete sign in email can always send you tasks - you don't have to explicitly add it here. On the other hand if you send yourself tasks from a secondary email address you have to type it in this field. If you use multiple email addresses or want to allow other people to email you tasks, you list all the email addresses comma-separated.

Email Alias

Email Alias option defines the username - or alias - to be used to email tasks to ActionComplete. E.g. if you selected john as your email alias, you ActionComplete email address will be john@actioncomplete-pro.appspotmail.com.

Panel Order

Panel Order option defined the order of task panels in the user interface. Drag and drop to change the order. The panels are ordered top to bottom first and then left to right, i.e. if you have 2 panels in the first column they are going to be filled with the top 2 selections from the Panel Order list.

Default Reminder Type

Default Reminder Type option controls the default selection of the reminder type drop-down in the New Action/Wait/Project/Idea form. By default this is Popup. You can change it to Email if that's what you use most of the time.

Date Format

Date Format option allows you to select the date format you are used to. The options are mm/dd/yy, dd/mm/yy, dd-mm-yy, dd.mm.yy, yy/mm/dd, yy-mm-dd, yy.mm.dd.

Time Format

Time Format option allows you to select the time format you are used to. The options are AM/PM and 24 Hours.

Nag me (TM)

Nag me is a smart opt-in email reminder system that automatically notifies you about the tasks you haven't touched for 30 days or more. Nag me is yet another way to surface the sneaky stuff evading our attention and to make sure things do not fall through cracks.

If you enable Nag me option you'll be receiving up to 10 email reminders a day highlighting the actions and waits that you haven't updated for at least 30 days.

Once the email reminder is sent out the task timestamp is automatically updated to the current date and time and after you refresh the page the task bubbles up to the top of the list if Newest first sort order is selected.

Acknowledge Incoming Tasks

Acknowledge Incoming Tasks option causes ActionComplete to email notifications every time it receives an incoming task via the email interface.

Reset Weight on Type Change

Reset Weight on Type Change option tells ActionComplete what to do with a task weight when the task is converted to a different type (Action -> Project, Idea -> Wait, etc). If the option is enabled, which is the default, every time you convert a task to a different type - by dragging or via the toolbar button on the task panel - the task weight is reset to the default weight value. Otherwise the task weight stays the same.

Email a Task to ActionComplete

You can email your tasks to a special ActionComplete email address.

ActionComplete automatically assigns you an email alias based on your sign in email address. For a Gmail account it’ll be the same as your Gmail username. For non-Gmail Google accounts the default email alias is the email address where @ sign is replaced with $ sign, e.g. john@mycompany.com will have a default email alias of john$mycompany.com.

You can change your email alias to whatever you feel like provided it’s not already taken. To change your email alias open Options... form (Tools/Options...), type the desired value in the Email Alias field, and click OK.

Your ActionComplete email address is

<your-email-alias>@actioncomplete-pro.appspotmail.com

The email subject becomes the task name while the email body becomes the task note or attachment.

Only first 100 characters of the subject are taken into consideration. The email subject contains the task name optionally followed by tags, places, and/or task type in the format described below.

The email body up to 300 characters long becomes the task note. A longer body is automatically converted to an attachment.

You can append tags and places to your tasks right when you email them in.

The notation for appending tags and places is straightforward and intuitive. ActionComplete understands both hashtags, e.g. #tag, and GTD-style tags, e.g. @phone.

A place can be attached via the @ symbol, e.g. @home.

Tags and places that do not exist in ActionComplete are ignored.

In the email interface tags and places are not case-sensitive, i.e. if you have out and about tag defined, you can refer to it as Out and About, out And about, oUT aND aBOUT, etc.

Attaching multiple tags and/or places is as simple as listing them after the task name separated by a space. You can attach up to 5 (five) tags and up to 5 (five) places to a task.  

You can specify the type of task to be created using the * (asterisk) symbol. For example *idea tells ActionComplete to put the task on the Ideas list. ActionComplete understands the following type identifiers: action, wait, project, idea. If you don’t specify the task type it’ll end up on your Actions list.

The email interface allows you to assign a task a weight and/or a due date. For assigning a weight you use the hash mark (#) and for a due date you use the @ character. You can combine weight and due date with tags and places.

When you assign a task a due date ActionComplete automatically creates an email reminder for the task that goes off at around 6 o’clock in the morning on the due date.

Here are a few examples:

Buy flowers #personal #out and about @florist *idea #85 @2/14/12

Post the article @3/20/12 #99 *action @computer #work

Joanne completes the new logo design *wait #product

A common scenario for using this feature is forwarding emails to ActionComplete. When forwarding an email please check that the three special characters - #, @, and * - are used as they are meant to.

At this time ActionComplete understands plain text emails only. When forwarding emails to ActionComplete please make sure the email being forwarded does not contain attachments or images, including the ones in email signatures.  If you use Gmail, you can convert an email to plain text via Remove Formatting option.

All the incoming tasks are automatically tagged with the email address of the sender. This is a convenience feature that allows you to easily find the incoming tasks you forgot to tag as well as the tasks you received from someone else.

Naturally you can email tasks to your spouse, friends, and coworkers - as long as they use ActionComplete. Bear in mind though that by default ActionComplete ignores tasks received from any address other than your primary email address (the one you use to sign in to ActionComplete).

If you want to receive tasks from someone else or from a secondary email of yours, you need to add all such emails - comma separated - to Accept Tasks From field in the Options form accessible via Tools/Options... menu.

Export Tasks from ActionComplete

You can export your ActionComplete tasks as a comma-separated values (CSV) file or as an HTML for printing.

ActionComplete uses a custom CSV format designed for two primary usage scenarios: backup/restore and data migration between ActionComplete applications.

To initiate the export, select File/Export... menu option. In the Export Options dialog that appears you can tell ActionComplete what exactly you want to have exported.

The Scope drop-down allows you to choose to either export everything or just the tasks that match currently selected filter(s).

The Type drop-down lets you specify the type of tasks to be exported. The options are All, Actions, Waits, Projects, and Ideas.

The Format drop-down is to specify the export file format. The options are CSV and Printer-friendly HTML.

By default only active tasks are exported. If you want to export completed tasks as well, check Export Completed Tasks box.

Once you picked the desired options, click the Export button to initiate the export. In a short while a window will pop up prompting you to save the export file to your hard drive.

After you saved the file you can examine its content via a text editor of your choice.

If you have Microsoft Excel installed on your machine, you can open the ActionComplete export file with it. As Excel understands ActionComplete CSV format, it will open the export file as a spreadsheet.

Excel has known issues with UTF-8 encoded characters. It means that if you have any non-English characters in your ActionComplete data Excel might not treat them well.

Excel will also strip out the double quotes (“”) around the fields in the export file, which makes it an inappropriate tool for the task of editing an ActionComplete export file with the purpose of re-importing it back to ActionComplete.

If you are a Google Docs user, you can upload the ActionComplete export file to Google Docs. The file will be automatically converted to a spreadsheet.

Export File Format

The first line of the export file is a header that always looks like this:

Type,Name,Project,Notes,Due,Remind,Weight,Tags,People,Places,Complete,Reminder Type,Last Updated,Repeat Type,Repeat Pattern,Repeat Start Date,Repeat End Type,Repeat End Date,Repeat Reminder Enabled,Repeat Reminder Type,Repeat Reminder Time,Time Zone Offset

Following the header are the exported data. Every data row should have all the fields indicated in the header row populated.

Type is one of the following: Action, Wait, Project, or Idea.

Name is the name of the task.

Project is the name of a linked project (for actions and waits). For projects and ideas this field is ignored.

Notes field contains the notes attached to the task.

Due and Remind fields are the due date and reminder date/time of the task, respectively. Both dates are represented as a number of milliseconds since Jan 1, 1970 in UTC.

Weight is an integer representing the weight, or priority, of the task.

Tags and Places contain comma-separated metadata of the task being exported.

Complete field can have any integer value. The value of 0 is interpreted as status "incomplete". Any other value is treated as status "complete".

All the fields are double-quoted ("task name"). Any literal quotes are quoted ("A field with ""a quote"" in it"). The new line characters are replaced with a special sequence of \n.

Import Tasks into ActionComplete

Any CSV file formatted as described above can be imported in AC for Web. The file has to have .csv extension.

To initiate the import select File/Import... menu option.

In the dialog that appears select the file to import and click the Import button.

You can choose to import all the tasks in the export file or just active tasks. Please be aware that if you do the import repeatedly and every time choose to import completed tasks they will be duplicated as many time as you do the import.

While the import is running the progress is displayed in the top notification area. When the import is complete the notification area will show you the number of tasks that were imported. The number may differ from the line count in the import file due to rejections.

There are various reasons for rows to be rejected, incorrect format, existing name, or non-existing project being some of them.

The good news is you can edit and repeatedly import the same file.

The default export mode of ActionComplete will export projects first, following by actions, waits, and ideas. This ensures all the projects are created before actions and waits are processed to minimize the rejections due to non-existing projects.