December 6, 2005

Tinderbox and Planning

Jeff Shell has a long, detailed, and important essay on Tinderbox, Planning, and Getting Things Done. He'd been using the "Kinkless GTD" system and ran into various points of friction, but found Ryan Holcomb's templates released him to work more effectively.

"So this is all really cool. It's a hierarchical active database. The agents, prototypes, and ability to tweak 'OnAdd' actions bring the active parts without need for heavy scripting - just learning the query language.... Tinderbox is very much focused on maintaining projects, notes, and plans, and has many different ways of viewing and interacting with your data. And today, two weeks after finally purchasing it, I finally used one of its most powerful features: map view.

In map view, you work with visual representations of notes, appearing as boxes with the title displayed. You can add extra adornments (items only seen in map view) to group items together in a non-containment way. You can resize notes and drop other notes inside them to turn those notes into children. And perhaps most importantly, you can easily create links between items in this view. While I'm not a fan of hardcore mind-mapping, I do like the basic concepts. And sometimes it just helps to think visually. With Tinderbox, you can have many different windows open on the same data. So today, I opened one of my projects up into a map view window and started re-thinking what needed to be done in order to get things moving. I'd avoided the map view up until now, even though there's a note in Holcomb's document that says it's great for brainstorming. And boy did that prove right.