Setting Contexts

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.)

Choosing Evernote

Posted in Information managers, Online Productivity by jquig99 on August 4, 2008

I’ve been using Bare Bones Yojimbo for over a year now – I’ve enjoyed using it and it’s really fit into my workflow – especially when the script that sent URL’s to Pukka (my Del.ic.ious client) and to Yojimbo, worked (it’s been broken since the last Pukka update). It wasn’t a huge deal, being only one of the many things I used the product for.

But somewhere along the way, my needs have changed.

For the last few months I’ve been hearing about Evernote. CC Chapman has a great write up here and Rachael Murphy’s has one here. But I was really trying to keep away – I didn’t want to interrupt my workflow with another diversion.

Then came the iPhone App Store and the outpouring of productivity applications.

Finally – I started to look at Evernote and it’s key component – syncing.

Now, with the iPhone, I can easily add any information – pictures, audio, snapshots and text notes – right to Evernote. Evernote syncs between my desktop, my iPhone and the online Evernote web application – everything current, everything easily accessible.

I’m still working on how I’ll completely integrate this into my workflow – I want to get my Backpack pages in and work on someway of automatically saving documents to Evernote with the ease of their web clipping FireFox extension or bookmarklet. But I’m really enjoying the experience so far, and while it’s hard to let go of Yojimbo, it seems like Evernote has the right features at the right time.

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How Backpack is Saving My Sanity

Posted in 37signals, Backpack, Basecamp, Campfire, Online Productivity by jquig99 on March 30, 2008

In the last few months, my life has changed significantly. My company was acquired in December and our corporate structure is significantly different. I have a number of accounts assigned to me as well as being part of the senior strategy team on many of the others. It’s exciting but exhausting – and I need to be able to organize everything and hopefully share among the necessary teams. All of whom I work with remotely.

So I’ve been using OmniFocus since last May – I adore this app and the Omni team. The effort and enthusiasm that went into building this application was infectious, the whole beta process was an incredibly collaborative and enjoyable experience. I very much love this application.

But with my new world order, I needed to shake this up a bit.

I was at SXSWi and saw Jason Fried’s keynote on “What We’ve Learned at 37Signals” (side note – who at SXSWi thought it was smart to schedule JF’s keynote at the same time of John Gruber’s panel? Bad, bad scheduling!). It was the best panel of the day (for me – the whole conference) and it reminded me how much I love their products and how much I enjoy using them.

Backpack is a particular favorite. I have used Backpack when it was really just a great personal organizer – all of the bit and pieces of my life went in it. In fact, my friend Patrick Rhone and I met through our shared love of this product (and his Productivity White Paper – where Backpack is a major factor). In the last few months, Backpack has gone through a significant upgrade and it was time to look at the product again.

Backpack is now a multiuser solution – great for small team collaboration (which is what I do – many small teams, much collaboration).

New Features:

* Multiuser – All team members can log into a single account
* Calendar – Users can log into a single calendar with additional controls as to who can see what
* Reminders – messages can be sent by email or text to many users as well as yourself (love this feature!)
* Messages – People can post messages and can also receive comments
* Newsroom – (my favorite new feature) gives you an update on all recent activity in your Backpack.

So I’ve been using it for a couple of weeks and really enjoying it. But for a couple of projects I need a bit more control. So I upgraded my Basecamp account and have started to use that for some larger projects.

I’ve used Basecamp for about 3 years – first with my prior company and now with Zeta. What I love about Basecamp is that I can set milestones for my projects, assign to do’s, messages and use the system to email all appropriate team members.

What’s great also is that there’s a Open bar at the top where I can switch from Basecamp to Backpack (and to Highrise – but that’s another post). So according what I’m working on, I can switch between the accounts I’m using to track those projects.

But there was one more thing that I was missing – I’m traveling a lot, in a ton of meetings and pitches and also need the ability to shut everything and everyone out when I can to get some stuff done. But I don’t want to miss anything or give people the impression that I can’t be reached.

So a couple of days ago I added Campfire – and as the website says, it’s iPhone compatible!

Campfire lets me set up “rooms” according to need – projects, conversations, etc. I use these to chat with my teams, share links and screenshots on projects, etc. It also integrates with Basecamp – so I can set up these rooms for each of those projects. It also allows me to participate when I want to – not always immediately.

So for the first time in a few months I feel like I’m more in control – not just organized, but working with my teams more efficiently. And my teams have been very supportive in trying these tools out and participating. While I don’t have the ability to block off time each day to get work done (too many meetings – grrr) without interruption, I can track what needs to be done and get things done before and after the “workday”.

I’ll track our success (hopefully!) and our challenges and will report on them here. BTW – I’m not the only person struggling with these issues right now – see the related link below.

Offices and the Creativity Zone – Dan Benjamin (found via. Daring Fireball)

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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My new favorite company: values of n

Posted in I Want Sandy, Jott, Stikkit, Twitter by jquig99 on December 2, 2007

values of n

I love falling in love with a company. Someone that gets how to add value to my live and actually cares about integrating into my workflow. 37Signals is one of those companies (and is the bar that everyone is measured against) and now I’ve found values of n.

Values of n is based out of Oregon and has two (at least today) products – Stikkit and I Want Sandy.

Stikkit, “little yellow notes that think”, turns the traditional sticky note on it’s head. You can use Stikkit to:

Plan a Meeting
Share/Comment on Ideas
Plan a Trip

This is the jumping-off point to adapt Stikkit to your own workflow. Stikkit gives support through it’s forums

Values of n’s other product is an online personal assistant, I Want Sandy. Sandy keeps you organized through your email, text messages and integrating into existing workflows and programs such as Twitter and Jott.

Sandy1.jpg

I’ve been using Sandy for over a week and it’s just been really easy to adapt into my everyday system. I can use the website, call Jott or email any to-dos, appointments, notes as well as add contacts and bookmarks.

It’s a lot of fun, too!

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From What’s The Next Action: David Allen Has a Posse

Posted in David Allen, GTD by jquig99 on October 29, 2007

Skitch – A Picture Uploading App (and So Much More…)

Posted in Skitch by jquig99 on October 21, 2007

I’ve had the beta – Skitch for a few months without really using it.

From the Plasq.com website:

So – this is what I’m now going to use for all of my screenshots, uploading my photo, capturing chat (I’m thinking of Kyte.tv chats). I can see this becoming a daily ritual, especially as it takes the time that I’ve used to illustrate my posts and articles and cuts it by 2/3rds.

So sign up for the public beta and enjoy a quick, easy and feature-rich graphics program.

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Web Runner – For Those That Just Can’t Help Themselves!

Posted in Browsers, Bundles, Internet Duct Tape, Web Runner by jquig99 on October 18, 2007

“Distraction Free GTD: 32 Todo List Web Applications”

I was just looking through my Clippings on NetNewsWire, which I use to save articles I want to read, just not that second, and I saw this post from Internet Duct Tape.

Now I love Safari and I can stop myself (I can, really!) from browsing the Web as a distraction from work. But for those who can’t – there’s Web Runner. There’s a Distraction Free GTD Web bundle – so for those who can not resist – go forth and browse no more.

Me – I’m off to enjoy all that 43Folders (addicted to the new format – and Merlin is really on stride!) has to offer – on my own time.

(Via Internet Duct Tape.)

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