Setting Contexts

Feeling Nostalgic – Franklin Covey

Posted in Online Productivity, productivity by jquig99 on May 27, 2009

Last night, Jeremiah Owyang of Forrester asked a question on Twitter about which company missed the innovation curve. He said Rolodex, but there was only one company that came immediately to my mind.

My first productivity porn

My first productivity porn

Back in the nineties, when I was a wee small girl, I worked for a wonderful company (Nordstrom) that was very focused on their employees living balanced lives. For management, they brought in consultants to train the staff on how to prioritize and be more productive. That was my introduction to Franklin Covey and their planning system.

It was love at first to-do list. Not only did the system make complete sense to me, it allowed me to delegate and followup easily with people, and focus on just getting stuff done. GTD before GTD. They had great seminars and consultants who held workshops onsite and off to train – I worked for (at least) 3 companies who brought teams of FC consultants in – and bought tons of supporting material each year for their entire staff. And – for the total girl in me – there was shopping. I could go into there free-standing stores and buy themed planning pages (like Monticello, Compass or Millennium, which came in a keepsake tin), planners in different materials (I bought a Italian leather planner in Apple green at the height of my obsession) and all kinds of accessories that allowed me to make this system personal. Which I did for over 10 years and a bunch of different jobs. They were certainly the company that defined “Balanced Living” and “Productivity in the Workplace”.

Fits in even in my handbag

Fits in even in my handbag

Then things started to get less easy as more of my life ported to the Web (that would be Web 1.0 for those in the kiddie seats). The planner software FC released was buggy and expensive and didn’t print that well – as we were all still killing trees. My “book” started to be a point of teasing from my design/developer team and I started looking at other solutions, reluctantly, that would allow all of us to collaborate together and keep the team/projects on track as a whole. I found 43Folders, GTD and Merlin Mann as enablers of my productivity application/workflow addiction. Once Basecamp came out, my team (and I) never looked back.

Today, I use Field Notes to capture any idea or to-do, etc. before I enter it all in the appropriate 37signals product. Easy – and it works for all of my needs, work projects, personal projects, online/offline and mobile.

I still keep my old FC planners and pages – more of a record of who I was at that time than for any real work value. And I do check in on the website from time to time and am tempted by all of the fun new toys. But I’m over the new and different now – I’m totally focused on what just works and getting things done – a system that’s working for my life today – online. offline and on my iPhone.

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Interview with Morfunk’s David Kaneda

Posted in 37signals, applications, Backpack, Basecamp, Highrise, iPhone, MyFavoriteThings, productivity by jquig99 on March 4, 2009

My iPhone HomepageAnyone who has read this blog knows that I use and love 37signal’s applications (almost 5 years and many accounts, personal and professional, later…) and that I’m also addicted to my iPhone. It’s been really interesting to watch the 3rd-party iPhone apps supporting the 37s products emerge in the last 6 months – I’ve tried most of them and have been challenged by the differing quality of the applications.

Outpost, by Morfunk, was really the first application that was announced (on a 37signals post) in the summer, but wasn’t released until November – in fact, after many of the others had already hit the AppStore. What immediately made a difference to me what less that actual app – although to me it was a clear winner – than the accessibility of the developers. They had set up a GetSatisfaction page and seemed to be monitoring it 24/7 (at first). Which was even more impressive when I learned that both of the developers hold down day jobs – building a business in a really smart (especially in this economy) way. David Kaneda Morfunk’s Interface Designer/Developer, was kind enough to answer some questions emailed to him about the company, Outpost and what else they’re working on (Tote!).

> 1. Can you tell me a bit about Morfunk? Where and how you started – and what’s with the name 😉

I started the company last July in partnership with Jim Dovey, a Mac developer. We were planning Outpost at the time, and wanted to leave room for doing more apps which integrate with 37signals products. Jim handles the heavy lifting with Cocoa development and I design user interface, the website, and manage the community, for the most part. The word “Morfunk” has been a working moniker I’ve had for some time — it represents the combination of form and function, via the Latin “Morphos” and Greek “Funktios”. It seemed particularly fitting for the partnership.

> 2. Out of the many Basecamp apps in the AppStore, Outpost seems to have the clear lead – featured on the 37signal’s Basecamp site, mentioned on the live show and many positive reviews from the community – what do you think sets the app apart from the competition?

I think the two biggest things that make Outpost different are the user interface and its offline capabilities. I was pretty pushy in terms of design and look, and thankfully Jim was very patient and tremendous in implementing the designs. The offline capability quickly became the most challenging aspect of building the app, but ultimately I’m glad we have it — this is something that sets us apart, and I’m not too fearful of someone else attempting it.

> 3. One of the things that has set Outpost apart from me is the interaction with your team, especially with the GetSatisfaction support page – why did you decide on GS and what’s the support process from your end? It seems like your team is constantly monitoring and available.

We knew from the beginning that we wanted the company to be transparent and I wanted to give GetSatisfaction a try. It’s pretty easy to keep up with via email and we try hard to reply when we can. We both have day jobs, so it can be difficult, but I think the system helps.

outpost-manage-basecamp-projects-on-your-iphone> 4. On the last live show, the 37signal’s guys discussed that they wanted to beef up the API’s this year. In terms of Outpost – how many of the feature requests (like Writeboards and Time Tracking) have to do with things that need to be added to the API? And have you been able to work with the 37s team on any additions?

We get a fair amount of requests for file support — not as much Writeboards, but people have asked. I personally think the lack of copy and paste takes away from the usefulness of Writeboards. We haven’t worked directly with 37signals on the additions, though they’ve kindly asked our opinion and we gave it. Our biggest requests didn’t involve the mainstream feature requests above, but rather functional improvements, like adding modified dates to all objects to improve sync times. Another big downfall is that non-admin Basecamp users have way less access than they should.

> 5. Outpost first came to many peoples attention last summer in a 37signal’s post, but didn’t actually get released until winter – what took so long?

A lot of this had to do with the syncing ability of Outpost, and countless tests to maximize sync speed, without sacrificing the apps performance or stability. Unfortunately, a lot of people still experienced problems with the early versions, as it was difficult to know how people used their Basecamp accounts.

> 6. I’m a big believer in charging for quality applications, which not only enable consistent updates, but product support also. One of the challenges in the AppStore right now seems to be in determining pricing. How did you determine what to charge for Outpost and what considerations did you make?

I personally agree, and think that products should charge based on value and audience. With Outpost, we knew we were working within a specific, professional niche and the app provides real value to those users. We thought about what we would pay for it. In fact, we originally decided on a $14.99 price point, but brought it down after seeing competitors release with much lower prices. We believe we put a fair amount more time into our app, which reflects in its usability and feature set, but didn’t want to rule ourselves out of the market.

> 7. Any word on Tote – or anything else, 37s or not, that you’re working on?

Tote, our web app for Backpack, is still in the works and will hopefully release soon. While developing Tote, I found a need in the market for a jQuery-based iPhone web framework, so I created and released jQTouch. We are also currently in the process of planning a native app for Highrise. Expect a few updates to the blog over the next month.

Thanks for your time David. Looking forward to watching what’s next for Morfunk!

Doing What You Love: Merlin Mann

Posted in DoingWhatYouLove, productivity by jquig99 on January 15, 2009

I’m really enjoying what Merlin is doing right now. The new direction of 43Folders, his daily “Most Days” videos, and his other content streams. This is obviously someone who loves what he does and it shows. I’ll miss him on Twitter, but the sheer volume of everything else he produces and shares means I’ll probably not even notice it.

BTW – one of the things I really like about Merlin is that he obviously really likes and respects women – I love the way he talks about his wife, mother-in-law and especially his daughter. It really comes through in a lot in what he does and it adds a lot to my connection to his stuff.

It’s so inspiring to see someone creating so much and enjoying it – makes me want to make great things in a way that I love. Today.

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My Favorite Things: Western Digital My Passport Portable Hard Drive

Posted in MyFavoriteThings, productivity by jquig99 on January 13, 2009

Western Digital My Passport Essential 320 GB USB 2.0 Portable Hard Drive I have a secret…but I totally trust you. I know it’s between us. It’s…hard drives. And that’s not a euphemism.

I love them – all sizes, brands, I never discriminate. But I recently made my first portable purchase, the Western Digital My Passport Essential 320 GB USB 2.0 Portable Hard Drive (in Intense Blue!). The lure of taking my iTunes songs and apps with me was the initial reason, although I’ve started a daily backup of current active files which are transferred to my weekly full backup (on a LaCie Porche Drive) and my monthly full disk backup (WD My Book 500 GB). I also bought a case, which carries the drive and cord, my aircard, headphones, a thumb drive and my iPhone connection cord. All neat and clean.

Of course, like all good addicts, I’m already planning my next hard drive purchase, which is a 1TB Apple Time Capsule (I see it as the final – Really! – purchase). Then I set up Time Machine and I’m done.

After all, I can stop any time I want to…

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Reblog: 10 Signs You’re a Productivity Junkie | Zen Habits

Posted in productivity by jquig99 on December 3, 2008

via 10 Signs You’re a Productivity Junkie | Zen Habits

I don’t usually reblog posts here, but this Zen Habits article by Jonathan Mead made me laugh out loud. Been there…

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TaskPaper 2.0 Released

Posted in Getting Things Done, GTD, Online Productivity, productivity by jquig99 on December 1, 2008

One of the most popular posts of 2008 on this blog was the one I wrote on TaskPaper in February. So I was excited when I was notified by a comment here that TaskPaper 2.0 was out.

What I love about TaskPaper is that it’s a truly simple application that lets you get things done and out of the way quickly (and without a lot o “system”). It also is formatted in text, so any text editor on any platform can be used to edit these lists.

From the Website

From the Website

New in TaskPaper 2.0:

* Themes
* Search
* Quick Entry Window
* Feels a lot faster!

I’ve used the new version for most of this week and found it extremely easy to fit into my workflow. As a GTDgirl – I love the themes, even though I use the basic look and feel (to keep distractions at bay).

Take a look at this screencast for an overview of how TaskPaper works.

Hog Bay Software has done a great job with this upgrade on a terrific application. The developers are also incredibly responsive on support issues. All in all – well worth $29.95!

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Living a Virtual Office Kinda Life

Posted in Crayon, Online Productivity, productivity, tools by jquig99 on September 30, 2008

I’ve been working with crayon for just over two months now. It’s been a significant change for me from before – not the least of which is working from home.

At crayon we use a number of web-based tools to stay organized and also to keep in touch – many I’ve talked about on this blog before.

* Basecamp – we use it for project management and have just started to share with our clients. It took a full day to reorganize the existing account when I started – I also put together a couple of screencasts for our team to learn how to use it. I’m also planning to do a couple for our clients so that they feel comfortable using it.

* Backpack – we use this as our own intranet. Anything internal (not project-based) goes here. This has been really successful in terms of adoption – everyone has been adding to pages as well as adding their own.

* Highrise – we’re using this for our CRM solution and to track our new business process. As of right now, only the crayonistas involved with new business have access.

oovoo.jpg

* ooVoo – (disclosure – ooVoo is a crayon client). We use ooVoo for text and video chat throughout the day to keep in touch. I’m looking to incorporate Campfire instead – less interruptions, more work.

* Google Docs – we share docs that we use as a company – status reports, contact lists, etc.

* iPhones – most of us at crayon have iPhones for use on both Macs (me) and Windows (everyone else). I’ve written up for the team how to get our 37signals apps on the home page as well as the different productivity apps I test/use.

* Twitter – we love Twitter. Most of us are using it regularly, the other are just starting to add it into our workflow. Each of us seem to have very different networks for the most part, as well as some overlap.

These are the tools we use at crayon everyday. With a virtual company – communication and organization takes on even more importance. These services work for us today, and as a lot of these are new to everyone, it’ll take a bit of time for complete adoption and the level of comfort that I have – something to keep an eye on.

Productivity on the iPhone

Posted in Apple, Crayon, iPhone, productivity, tools by jquig99 on September 26, 2008

It’s been almost 2 1/2 months since Apple’s AppStore debuted (and I upgraded my first gen to a 3G) and I’ve been testing out and using a number of different applications. The Productivity section of the AppStore easily had the most applications the first day and it has continued to grow steadily.

My Productivity apps

My Productivity apps

I had been a part of the OmniFocus beta test group and it was one of the best testing experiences I’ve had. A great group of people, starting with Ken Case and the whole development team – all of whom were really responsive and excited to be working on the application. So I was excited to see that OmniFocus would be available for the iPhone the first day. The iPhone version is great – especially as it used the 3G location services so effectively. Put together a shopping list and OF shows you the closest store to your current location. It still has the same capture features as the desktop app and you can take pictures, enter text and make voice notes quickly. And it syncs with the desktop version. Very intuitive and comprehensive – also a bit too much for me. But I truly love this company and it’s products.

Another iPhone application I use frequently is Jott. I’ve been a Jott user for awhile and they finally exited their beta period and have a number of tiered pricing options to choose from. And a well-featured free account, which works well with the iPhone app. I use Jott to quickly call in notes to myself (I loved when these would go to Backpack, but that seems to be not working anymore) and now the iPhone app makes it easy to do this and sync to all of the services I have associated with the account. It definitely helps me remember things when I’m traveling or just need a quick reminder.

I also hear some great things about, well, Things (which also has a desktop version).

But what do I actually use, day in and day out? I still use the web versions of my 37signals apps – Basecamp, Backpack, Campfire (which is iPhone optimized) and Highrise – and am hoping for iPhone versions to come along soon (And so not holding my breath…). My system, which I’ll update about soon, works really well for me and I love that I can have these icons on my iPhone homepage and are a tap away.

Having said that – it was the biggest disappointment that the AppStore didn’t open with any 37s apps.

Just an FYI – I have given in to putting my 37signals Affiliate Banners on here (you’ll see them on the right). These are definitely product endorsements over participation in the program. I love their products – we use them at crayon, and I have had my own accounts for years. So – feel free to use these links, I just love the company.

(Aside – I originally wrote this post over a week ago on the WordPress iPhone app, which saved it locally and then lost it. Shows that I have a post saved in Local Drafts, but nothing when you open the folder. Ouch. Also, MORE IMPORTANTLY!!! this week Apple decided that iPhone developers couldn’t talk about AppStore rejected – for any reason – applications because they are covered under the still-existing NDA. Ugly Apple. How could they treat their incredible independent developer community like this? These developers and companies are amazingly collaborative, generous and creative – Apple is should feel privileged to have the like of Daniel Jalkut, Wil Shipley, Craig Hockenberry and Brent Simmons developing for them. I’m continually impressed by the level of work and commitment all of the Apple Dev Community show and shame on Apple for not appreciating what they bring to the brand experience. Apple is just really nice hardware without them. They make Macs sing.)

TaskPaper: A Deceptively Simple To-Do List

Posted in GTD, productivity, To Do List Applications by jquig99 on February 26, 2008

TaskPaper.jpg
A few months ago I received an email asking me to check out this new to-do list application, TaskPaper. I’ve been using OmniFocus which is a full-featured GTD app. But sometimes you need something simple that allows you to just get your job done.

TaskPaper takes the principles of GTD and uses a clean user interface with the focus of an outline to easily organize projects and tasks. Project titles and tags are all hyperlinked to create easy filters to find whatever you’re searching for with a click – whether you have a couple of projects or thousands of tasks.

Another thing that I like about this app is the community that has sprung up to support it. A number of developers have released products supporting TaskPaper:

* TaskPaper.web — TaskPaper on the Web
* TaskPaper.vim — TaskPaper in Vim
* TaskPaper.textmate — TaskPaper in TextMate
* TaskPaper.tada — Ta-da List export to TaskPaper
* Blocks — Pure plugin framework
* TaskPaper.bbedit — TaskPaper in BBEdit
* Tasko — Online TaskPaper

TaskPaper is a great application for down and dirty project management – and makes your life easier at the same time.

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Different Ways to Update Blogs

Posted in 30Boxes, FlipCamera, GTD, Jott, productivity, Video by jquig99 on October 14, 2007

I’m starting to look at different ways to update my blogs. As I my professional life gets more intense, I need ways of updating my web presence that easily integrates into my workflow.

A new medium that I’m experimenting in is video. Last weekend I bought a FlipCamera Ultra. It’s a really small camcorder that can fit into my bag that I can use to do video blog updates on the fly, short interviews and conference transcriptions. And a built-in USB connector and software makes uploading a snap. I’ve been carrying it everywhere and working on how best to use it. I love working in this new medium and I think it’s going to make my updates easier and more frequent.

I’m working on my closeup!

The other thing that is making things much easier is Jott. Since I started using it, Jott has made thing much easier.

Using Jott, I:

– Update my blogs
– Update Twitter
– Create Groups to update many people at once
– Send Jotts to individuals
– Update my 30Boxes calendar
– Update Jott from my desktop.
– Creating reminders and tasks across Folders

I Jott to myself, I Jott to my friends, I Jott to my collegues, I Jott to my blogs. I’m seeing more and more people in my network Jott-ing. Brian Solis at PR 2.0 just wrote a thoughtful post on how Jott impacts his productivity. Glad to see he’s Jott-ing instead of texting-while-driving!

These are two of the services/products I’m using to help me Get Things Done. I’m looking to forward to tracking how these continue to adapt to my workflow.

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