Setting Contexts

What I love about the OmniGroup

Posted in Beta, GTD, OmniFocus, OmniGroup, productivity, Quicksilver by jquig99 on May 17, 2007

I beta test a lot of software and services. Most just assume that people know how to write up a bug or crash report. People don’t. Yesterday, the OmniGroup’s blog (The OmniMouth), posted exact directions, in light of the first beta build of OmniFocus, a detailed how-to.

It got me going – I couldn’t wait to participate. Oh well. So far, no crashes, no bugs. I’m backing up my database each day, with no need (so far – but I live in hope!).

What I’ve done so far – put in all of my projects and set my contexts. I’ve dumped everything in my Inbox, processed, assigned tasks and published to iCal. I’ve used the “Quick Entry” box, but haven’t tried the Quicksilver action yet. I’m also getting used to the keyboard shortcuts.

I have to say – I’m loving this app. It’s intuitive and simple. Great first few days.

What’s next is figuring out how to work with my email.

OmniFocus – First Thoughts

Posted in Beta, GTD, OmniFocus, OmniGroup, productivity by jquig99 on May 15, 2007

My first impressions about OmniFocus, after a limited time, is that it lives up to the promise (hype!).

Without looking at either of Ethan Schoonover’s movies (here and here) I was able to quickly set up some projects, contexts and assign tasks to each.

In lieu of looking at the videos (which I plan to do this weekend), I followed the “micro-manual” that was included with this beta download. It’s a visual guide that walks users quickly through the basics of OmniFocus.

Again – I didn’t have a lot of time to dig into this application in more than a surface way. But it has been pretty impressive so far.

Screenshots tomorrow.

More Twittering about Twitter

Posted in productivity, Twitter by jquig99 on May 15, 2007

My collegue Allison sent me the following aricle, which in turn sent me to another article (I love that!) talking about how people are adapting Twitter for professional use.

The first, from iMedia Connection, is a 5-section article talking about the all-encompassing Twitter experience. The second, http://www.901am.com/2007/the-top-5-ways-smart-people-use-twitter.html, from the media-centric 9:01am Blog, focuses on the ways people are using Twitter for business communications.

Great articles both.

OmniFocus

Posted in Beta, GTD, OmniFocus, OmniGroup, Online Productivity, productivity, Software by jquig99 on May 15, 2007

Last night I was one of the lucky few sent my username and password for the initial look at OmniFocus. I had a quick email exchange with Ken Case (CEO of the OmniGroup), who said he doesn’t mind me blogging about my experience as long as I strongly reiterate that this is a WORK IN PROGRESS!!!

So, in the coming days (and weeks), I’ll be putting my experiences and impressions (screenshots, etc) here. I’m really starting to dig into this app, so I expect a bit of adaption time. And will it really cause me to leave Actiontastic completely (which I intend to still use during this beta period).

I’ll post initial thoughts this evening.

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I’ve fallen in love….

Posted in GTD, MacBreak, productivity, SmileOnMyMac, TextExpander by jquig99 on April 29, 2007

…with TextExpander.

TextExpander, by SmileOnMyMac, allows you to use customized abbreviations to insert text that you use frequently (like email signatures or form information) into any document. The impact to anyone’s productivity would be huge and immediate.

I’d been trying to adapt this into my system for the past two weeks (while still acclimating to my new job). What really opened up this application for me was watching the MacBreak podcast (that I’d downloaded in February) where Leo Laporte and Merlin Mann (I’m such a fangirl!) walk through TextExpander.

Features: (from the website)
> Save thousands of keystrokes by using short abbreviations to insert frequently-used phrases and images
> Insert standard greetings and signatures — including formatted text and pictures
> Insert the current date and time in any format you prefer
> Add common typos to your snippet library–TextExpander will automatically correct them for you!
> Type special characters without having to launch a special characters palette
> Import snippets from other typing utilities, including Textpander, TypeIt4Me and > Typinator
> Trigger snippet expansions automatically by typing the abbreviations you specify, or use any one of over 30 delimiter characters as a trigger
> Position the cursor wherever you want in your expanded snippet.
> Programmers: make editor-independent code templates

The SmileOnMyMac website has a number of great resources including a FAQ’s, Online Help and a couple of pre-fab snippet files (Autocorrect snippets and HTML code snippets). There is also a chart comparing TextExpander to two of its competitors.

Now that it’s a part of me I don’t see what I ever did without it. Download TextExpander here – it’s well worth the $29.95.

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Recent Implementation – NewsReaders

Posted in GTD, NewsFire, productivity, RSS by jquig99 on April 16, 2007

I love my MacBook Pro. And I love Safari, especially that I could have all of my RSS feeds in my browser where I could click on them as soon as they were received. Not very GTD – compliant(especially with over 80 feeds).

I’ve been using NewsFire, developed by David Watanabe. While there isn’t a lot of documentation to help with the initial setup, it was easy to feel my way through.

It wasn’t easy to get accustomed to this at first – instant gratification is a hard habit to break – it really has been incredibly helpful during the first few weeks of my new job.

NewsFire features: (From the website)

> NewsFire is the first RSS reader to use animation to alert you to news and convey meaning. Watch your feeds and groups swoop around as news streams in.
> NewsFire takes feed organization to the next level, letting you create smart feeds that match whatever criteria you want.
> NewsFire lets you group and label your feeds, so you control the news reading experience.
> Search for news, blogs, and podcasts everywhere directly in NewsFire and save the results as live feeds. Even cooler, NewsFire articles show up in Spotlight.
> If you run your own blog and use an editor like Mars Edit or ecto, you can easily post articles you come across in NewsFire. It’s just as easy to bookmark links with del.icio.us.
> Hand-crafted from sheet metal and plastic gel, NewsFire exudes sex appeal.
> And more…

So while it hasn’t been easy to adapt to NewsFire…it has definitely helped support my GTD system and keep me on task!

The New Kid on the Block – iGTD

Posted in Actiontastic, GTD, iGTD, MailTags, productivity, Quicksilver, Software by jquig99 on April 11, 2007

There’s a new kid on the (very) crowded GTD space – iGTD. I’ve been playing with this app (which seems to get an update almost each day) for a week now, and while I’m not ready to leave Actiontastic yet, this is a great alternative.

What I really like about this app (besides it’s simplicity, MailTags integration and the AutoBackups) is the actual website. There’s an a active forum (which the developer seems to be very involved in), a blog, a wiki, a “Tips and Tricks” page, a page on Keyboard shortcuts (and who doesn’t love those?), a page just on Quicksilver integration (see editorial comment on Keyboard shortcuts), a Help/Feedback page, a Thanks page and finally – a page to Donate*. And people should.

Merlin Mann has also been taking it for a spin and shared his thoughts today on 43Folders.

Features include: (from the Wiki)
> Tasks
> Contexts
> Hierarchical Projects
> Process your tasks
> Keyboard Control
> Quicksilver Integration
> iGTD on the menu bar

While this is not my GTD app of choice, iGTD is a clean, powerful application that let’s you get on with your work in a “mind like water” manner.

* Jon! Time to add a Donate button (or page) to Actiontastic!

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Journler – New Version

Posted in GTD, Journler, productivity, Software by jquig99 on April 9, 2007

I have used Journler for awhile – as a GTD tool, (See this post from Scarfone – older, but still a great start), a project managemnt system and a blog editor. I’m a big fan of this app and it’s wonderfully responsive developer, Phil Dow.

Feature List: (from the website)

> AppleScript Support
> Filtering & Searching
> The Drop Box & JPanel
> Smart Families
> Editing Entries
> iLife Integration
> Importing
> Video Recording
> iPod Notes
> Printing and Exporting
> Tabbed Editing
> The Spoken Word

The addition of the dropbox and the JPanel features makes importing to Journler a breeze. Journler is donation-ware and has a busy forum, a wiki and a terrific help section.

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Monthly Tools – 1) Mind-Mapping

Posted in GTD, Mind-mapping, NovaMind, productivity, Software by jquig99 on April 8, 2007

Mind-mapping intrigues me. I’ve tried a number of ways (including the wonderful GTD Template by Dr. Pascal Venier at [Productivity Workflows]) to incorporate mind-mapping as my GTD tool of choice and have never been able to adapt to it. I guess it’s a left brian/right brain thing.

What I have been able to do is to use mind-mapping as a monthly overview tool, a brainstorming tool, and a project tool (but only for client presentation – very impressive as a tool the client can use to map all that you are doing to help them!). What helps ME is mapping (at the beginning of each month) all the projects and tasks that my teams are working on, as well as who is working on what. What I find is not only is it a great way for at-a-glance tracking tool, but that it can spur visual cues – connections – on ways I can integrate services or other products for my clients.

I start with placing the name/year in the middle of the map. Then I detail the new projects for the month at the upper-right quadrant. I include the client, project tasks and team members. I then move to the lower-right quadrant and detail the projects already in process and their status (carried over from the last month’s map). Then in the lower-left quadrant I focus on team development – specific activities that include meetings, reviews, etc. Finally in the upper-left quadrant, I put in my “Someday” list – house projects, new development, etc. (These have a 3-month cycle before I have to put them into the “New” project quadrant).

There are many free and pay mind-mapping tools. I’m using NovaMind at the moment (after I tested MindJet’s MindManager for Mac, FreeMind, NoteMind and MyMind. NovaMind has a great website with a number of templates (I’ve downloaded the project templates, the company org template and the brainstorming template) – it also reads MindManager templates.

Resources:

Novamind – Different versions to suit need/trial versions/templates
Mindjet’s MindManager – Different versions to suit need/trial versions/templates/webinars/plug-ins
MyMind – Free tool
FreeMind – Free tool