Archive for January, 2009

Nozbe iPhone app has been submitted!

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

Nozbe iPhone appIt’s taken longer than expected, but the good folks at Nozbe have finally submitted their iPhone application to Apple, and it should show up in the app store within a few weeks.

Nozbe already has an excellent iPhone-formatted site, but an app will be much better — faster loading, more complex, etc.  They have written a nice overview of the app, showcasing some of it’s features.  It really looks awesome, and I’ve very excited to get my hands on it.

The app will be free and will carry the same limits as your main Nozbe account.

For more information about Nozbe, I recommend you check out our Nozbe vs. Toodledo post.

Take a look around David Allen’s office

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

You 2.0 has just posted a neat video of David Allen in his home office, going through his “collection” process after a trip.  After watching it, I’m feeling pretty good about my sytem, as it’s quite similar.  I have a few more high-tech tools in my arsenal, but all-in-all it’s roughly the same.  Check it out below!

GTD has done my prayer life (and sleep) a lot of good

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

Getting rolling with GTD has brought a few unexpected benefits to my life — an improved prayer life and an easier time falling asleep at night.

I’m personally a Christian, but this applies to anyone of any faith, or anyone that simply likes to meditate.  I’ve always had a hard time focusing for very long, because my mind was racing with ideas, things to do, things I forgot to do, etc.  By getting everything in a system that I trust, it really does clear your mind.  It’s been quite remarkable.

This carries over to my sleeping habits.  Again, my mind used to churn when I lay in the bed and it would sometimes make it hard to fall asleep.  While I still have worries and anxieties about various aspects of life, I have fewer things to worry about than before.

It’s amazing to see the little things that GTD can help with.  What other unexpected benefits have you seen once you got invested with GTD?

The little things can add up: Gmails “Send & Archive” is great!

Friday, January 16th, 2009

I’ve been a huge fan of Gmail for a few years now.  I can run a variety of addresses through my single Gmail account, then access it all from anywhere.  One especially neat thing about Gmail is the “archive” feature.  When you’re done with an e-mail, you can just tell it to “go away”, whether you label it or not.  If you need it later, just search for it.  It’s great!

In trying to keep my inbox at zero, archive is gold. As a general rule, whenever I send an e-mail to someone and require action back on it, I archive it.  When they reply, it’ll pull the entire conversation back into the inbox.  Perfect!

Now Google has saved me a step.  My old method of sending and archiving was:

  • Send the e-mail.
  • I’m returned to the inbox.
  • Select that conversation.
  • Archive it.
  • Move on to the next one.

Thanks to Google Labs (go to [Settings] –> [Labs] in Gmail), you can enable a button called “Send & Archive”.

send-and-archive

Now my method looks like this:

  • “Send & Archive” the e-mail.
  • I’m returned to the inbox.
  • Move on to the next one.

It’s just a small thing, but those small things add up.  I send maybe 50 e-mails per day.  Suppose this new button saves me 5 seconds each.  That’s about 4 minutes per day, or nearly 24 hours per yearI can save an entire day just because of this little button.

I’m a big believer in streamlining my most frequent tasks to shave precious seconds that can add up.

What tips do you have to help people shave off a little more time?

Google Notebook and Jott become less useful

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

Google Notebook and Jott are two of the cogs in my GTD system, and both just announced news that makes them less desireable.

Jott has just announced that they are ending their free service as of February 2.  I was considering upgrading to their paid service anyhow so I could send notes directly to Nozbe, but I hate that they’re losing the free service.  I’m torn as to whether I should pay for that service or switch to something like Dial2Do and hope that they include Nozbe support in the future.  I’m thinking I’ll pay for Jott (it’s only $4/month), but we’ll see.

The other bad news involves Google Notebook.  Google just announced that they’re closing up some services and ceasing development on some others.  They’re effectively dumping Jaiku and Dodgeball, and slowing closing out Google Video (which was a long time coming, since they own YouTube).  The official word on Google Notebook is:

Starting next week, we plan to stop active development on Google Notebook. This means we’ll no longer be adding features or offer Notebook for new users. But don’t fret, we’ll continue to maintain service for those of you who’ve already signed up. As part of this plan, however, we will no longer support the Notebook Extension, but as always users who have already signed up will continue to have access to their data via the web interface at http://www.google.com/notebook.

I’ve been trying to decide whether to stick with Google Notebook or move all of that content to Evernote.  I think that decision has just been made.

Don’t let your computer slow you down

Monday, January 5th, 2009

If you’re reading this, I can immediately guess two things about you:

  • You’re interested in or practicing GTD.
  • You use your computer more than the average bear.

If that’s the case, then don’t let the computer be your bottleneck.  If you are on your computer for four hours a day and you can speed it up by just 1%, that’s 14 hours you’d save every year!

With that in mind, here are some tips to make the most of your moments on the computer:

  • Leave it on and leave it open. When you are done with your PC, don’t shut down your programs and certainly don’t turn it off — just turn off the monitor.  That way when you sit back down, you’re back in the swing of things in about 15 seconds instead of a few minutes to boot up and/or open your programs.
  • Reboot once or twice a week. With a Windows machine you can’t go forever without rebooting.  It’ll slow down and start having problems after a few days.  If so, then take the time to reboot.  For me, a reboot costs me 10-15 minutes, because I need to get all of my applications and tabs running again.
  • Use a fast browser. If you’re on a PC, you should be using Firefox or Chrome.  If you’re using Internet Explorer, you’re wasting a lot of time waiting on that dinosaur to load pages for you.
  • Leave commonly used websites open in separate tabs. Learn how to use tabs in Firefox or Chrome and use them often.  If there is a site you visit a few times/day, leave it open in a tab for quick access.  Other tabs can come and go throughout the day.  In my case, I leave open (24/7, until I reboot):
  • Clean it up for maximum performance. Follow the tips on speeding up XP (or Vista) and save valuable seconds with every click.
  • Get a second monitor. If you can afford it, buy a second monitor.  Studies show productivity increases of up to 70%, and I believe it!  I’ve forced a few co-workers to do it against their will, and now they’ll never go back.  It’s amazing how helpful it is to be able to reference items on one screen while you’re working on the other, or to cut and paste from one to the other.  Again, a 1% increase can mean 14 hours/year.  Suppose this helps you work 5% faster.  That’s 70 hours.  Even at minimum wage, that’s over $450/year.  It’s a no-brainer.  Keep in mind that you will probably need a second video card as well, but your total cost is still way under $450.
  • Get some extra RAM. RAM is cheap, easy to install and can make a huge difference.  If you’ve got less than a gig, go get more right now.  There are no drivers to install — just shut down your computer, snap it in and start it back up.
  • Lose the virus scanner — maybe. If you know what you’re doing, you have no need for a virus scanner to be running 24/7.  Those things are huge performance drains.  Contrary to popular belief, you can’t just “catch” a computer virus; it needs a way in.   Gmail scans all of my mail before it gets here, and I don’t open things that I’m not expecting.  My browsers are always up to date and I check for new Windows updates every week or so.  Plus, my router has a built-in firewall (almost all of them do).  I don’t download random programs from the internet.

    So where is a virus going to sneak in?  It won’t.  I still run the free version of AVG every month or so just to make sure I’m clean, but I do NOT leave a scanner running all the time.  I’ve done this for about 8 years now, on the internet for 5-10 hours/day, and I’ve not had a single problem. I wouldn’t suggest this idea to my mom, but you know if you’re smart enough to handle it.

So there you have it.  My tips for saving as much time as possible on your PCs.

Any tips to add?

Nozbe vs. Toodledo

Friday, January 2nd, 2009

nozbe-vs-toodledo

I’ve been a Nozbe fan from day one.  In fact, that’s what got me interested in GTD.  I wanted a web-based to-do list with great iPhone support.  I found Nozbe, realized that it was GTD based, watched some of their videos, and then eventually got the GTD book and dove in.

After I realized I was a fan of GTD (and not necessarily Nozbe), I started looking for alternatives to make sure I wasn’t missing something better.  I tried quite a few, but the only one that came close was Toodledo.  I liked it enough that I decided to dive in and run them both for a few days, which made me very unproductive. :)  I came close to switching over to it, but eventually decided to stay with Nozbe.  Here’s a few reasons why:

Projects

Nozbe has Projects, and it lists them down the side.  In Toodledo, you have Folders instead.  No problem there.  The issue is that it is hard to view all of them at once when you have more than 6 or 8 of them going (and I have about 30).  Many Toodledo users create basic folders instead (such as “Home”, “Work”, etc) and then create a Task for each project.  With Toodledo, you can create sub-tasks (which is great!), thus making that system work.

However, that leads to a few issues.  First, it’s essentially a hack.  Why use a hacked-together solution for a problem that Nozbe solves perfectly?  The other problem is that it makes it hard to see exactly what project each task is for.  Using folders as projects, I could see the folder name (“My Site #1″) and the starred tasks (Next Actions) for it.  Now I see folders titled things like “My Sites” with a bunch of starred tasks, but I don’t know which site each task is for unless I click on it.  Not a huge deal, but it makes it a royal pain to scroll through a list and see what I need to be working on.

Filtering

Toodledo has some incredible filters — far better than Nozbe’s.  However, they’re missing the key one — filtering projects.  With Toodledo, your folders have names and no other data. With Nozbe, they can have tags and descriptions.  The project tags are gold.  When I get to work, I can pull up my Next Actions page, filter by “Work” and only see actions from projects that I’ve tagged for work.  Same when I get home.  With Toodledo, there is no good way to do that.

The workaround is the same as above — use folders for broad categories, then use tasks and sub-tasks for your projects.  That way I can just view the “Work” folder at work and it gets the job done, but it still leads to the problems I mentioned before.

Sharing

Both sites allow you to collaborate on items, but Nozbe’s implementation is a little better.  They do it on a per-project basis, and free accounts are allowed five projects.  That means you can collaborate with users on small things without them having to pay for an account.

With Toodledo, it’s a bit more complex.  You can share folders, but that gets strange if I only want to share a certain project with someone, since it’s just a task in a folder — I have to share the entire folder.  Not only that, but they need to pay for an account to be able to edit items in the shared folder.

That’s not to say it’s all bad.  Toodledo has some great things going for it:

  • It looks better.  Nozbe has a big redesign coming soon, but Toodledo looks a little better today.
  • It has an iPhone app.  Nozbe has an excellent iPhone-formatted site, but no native app.  Again, it’s coming soon (within a few weeks, hopefully), but Toodledo has it today.
  • It has a much more active community.  Nozbe just redid their forums and hopefully that’ll help, but Toodledo has thousands of posts in theirs and it’s a great resource.
  • It’s less expensive.  $15/year instead of $7/month.

Most of the rest of the features are about the same in both places — after all, they’re both based on GTD.  The bottom line is that Nozbe helps me get things done better than Toodledo does. What else really matters in this discussion?

I’ve shown Nozbe to a couple people (both of them were non-GTD folks), and their comment is was “that just makes sense”.  The flow is very logical.  They both signed up, and both later upgraded to paid accounts.

I’m anxious for the Nozbe iPhone app to come out, but it’s not as big of a deal as I once thought.  As I said before, I really wanted a system that I could manage from my iPhone.  The beauty of GTD is now that everything is out of my head and in a system, I no longer worry about it all the time and I rarely access it from my phone.  If I have a new thought when I’m away from a PC, I just fire it through Jott and move on.

So there you have it.  I like Nozbe a little better than Toodledo and I’ll continue to use it, but you really can’t go wrong with either service.

Which do you prefer?