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Author Topic: What's In Your Toolkit?  (Read 24585 times)
Robert McNally
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« on: December 08, 2004, 02:32:35 PM »

So, I'd love to see lists of the personal effectiveness tools and techniques that everyone relies on-- what are the few best tools you use to make sure your life stays together? Here are mine, in no particular order:
  • E-mail: Qualcomm Eudora: Not the slickest interface, but Eudora handles tons of archival e-mail very well.
  • Calendar: Apple iCal: Lacks a few small features, but very respectable, and I used the publish and subscribe calendars feature with family and colleagues.
  • Contacts and General Recordkeeping: Filemaker Inc. FileMaker Pro: I've developed numerous custom databases to handle everything from personal contacts to my paper filing system.
  • Fuzzy To-Dos: Sciral Consistency: Well, of course!
  • List Keeping: OmniGroup OmniOutliner: A very slick and useful outliner, I keep my implementation of David Allen's Getting Things Done methods and tons of other lists I use in an OmniOutliner document.
  • Timekeeping: Microsoft Excel: Of course I use it for the usual number crunching, but I also keep track of my professional time using an Excel workbook and some macros I developed. Some things just seem to need an outline format, and I used OmniOutliner for those, while others seem to need a tabular format, and I used Excel for those. In fact, Sciral Consistency started its life as a mockup I did in Excel!
  • Backups: Dantz Retrospect: Backups are a critical, and sadly often overlooked, aspect of personal information management. Retrospect and I have been together a long time, and I can't recommend it highly enough.
  • Finances: Intuit Quicken: Pretty much does it all for the individual or small business.
  • Images: Apple iPhoto: Handles tons of photos easily, and provides the features most non-professionals need.
  • Music: Apple iTunes: Yes, tons of music files need organization too, and iTunes does a fantastic job.
« Last Edit: December 11, 2004, 10:05:20 PM by Robert » Logged
tlrand
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« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2004, 07:51:59 PM »

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List Keeping: OmniGroup OmniOutliner: A very slick and useful outliner, I keep my implementation of David Allen's Getting Things Done methods and tons of other lists I use in an OmniOutliner document.

Can you say more about this?  I am in the midst of using OmniOutliner for the same thing.

BTW, version 3 of OO, especially the Pro version is A M A Z I N G.

For timekeeping, I really like iWork.
« Last Edit: December 11, 2004, 10:05:46 PM by Robert » Logged
Robert McNally
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« Reply #2 on: December 11, 2004, 11:26:55 PM »

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Can you say more about this? I am in the midst of using OmniOutliner for the same thing.
Although I have a number of OO documents for various subjects, my master "To Do" document contains a large number of lists, and I use two columns, where the meaning of the second column varies depending on the section.

I start of with a "Principles" section, where I keep a number of important ideas that I want to remind myself of frequently. I don't use the second column in this section.

Then I have my "Someday Maybe" list, where I catch all of the project ideas (computer and non) that occur to me-- primarily so I can stop trying to remember them, as Allen suggests. Once an idea is in this section, I review it periodically, but I don't have to worry about remembering it or feel stressed that I'm not doing it right now. I use the second column here for category keywords.

Next is the "Projects" section where, again following Allen, that I list the projects that essentially all of my tasks fit into.

I then have a "Shopping List" section which is a sort of "Someday Maybe" list for things I'd like to buy. I often keep URLs in the notes for each item about where I've discovered a particular item for sale.

Then I have my "Waiting For" section, where I list all the things I am waiting on others to complete, and I keep "tickler dates" in the second column so I have a reminder of when to review that particular item. Items I'm waiting for include things like books others have borrowed from me, tasks delegated to others, etc. (In Eudora I also have a "waiting for" folder where I put e-mail messages to which I'm expecting a reply. I periodically review this folder as well.)

Last but not least comes my "Next Actions" section, where I list all the next actions I'm considering, and I use the second column to state the project to which each action belongs. It is from this list that I draw up my daily priorities.

I'd be interested to hear how you've gone about adapting OO for your own Getting Things Done process.

To understand more of what this is all about, definitely read Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen.

Quote
BTW, version 3 of OO, especially the Pro version is A M A Z I N G.
It does look very cool. I'll give it a spin soon.
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tlrand
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« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2004, 08:27:41 PM »

Interesting!  It sounds like you have done a good job at relating the vertical and horizontal in your system.

After years of overdesigning and technologizing my GTD system, I am committed to making his "mid-tech" system based on a three ring notebook work.  See http://www.davidco.com/tips_tools/tip25.html for details.

This system and really pure GTD is very flat.  I believe that Allen thinks that if you keep it simple enough that your brain can provide all the pivot that is needed between the context based next actions and the flat list of projects. This works better with paper since random access between pages is so fast and the ability to take in a series of pages is well beyond a computer UI.  Paper is still much higher resolution than my 1024x768 screen.

So far now I am using OO as a simple list manager for my projects. I also keep my calendar and contacts electronically, but they get printed out, hole-punched an put in the binder every week.  Currently my next actions are just scribbled, but I will probalby end up using OO for those as well.  I can even imagine printing out a page from Consistency and only updating on the computer once or twice a week.

If I keep the whole system simple enough it won't be hard to sync it to an iPod which would be cool for those times when I don't want to lug the binder.
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mrkwhlbrk
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« Reply #4 on: December 24, 2004, 11:01:21 AM »

I'm on Windows and I also use David Allen's Getting Things Done system. Besides Sciral Consistency I use:

Time and Chaos for my main PIM (calendar, contacts, to-do's)
Express Plus for email
KeyNote - great tree-view information system

I use Time and Chaos for implementing the GTD system, and KeyNote mostly for reference information. Express Plus is the email client from Chaos Software, and although it's a separate program, it integrates with the Time and Chaos contact list. The drawback is shuffling between several programs to determine the next action item. Not sure how to get around that though - Consistency is such a simple and unique concept that doesn't translate to the typical PIM. The only thing I ever found that came close was Above and Beyond and it's Dynamic Scheduling concept; however, it's user interface is years behind and complicated.
 
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ProfDD
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« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2005, 06:44:20 PM »

I am an ADD GTDer.  I keep it as simple as Microsoft (Windows) and Palm let me.  I use Outlook 2002, customized along the lines of "Implementing David Allen's Workflow Processing using Microsoft Outlook".  I synch with my Palm, using the basic apps.  Out-of-the-box Outlook has so many baroque bells and whistles, imperfectly implemented, that it is impossible to love, no matter how dependent one might be on it.

I am also testing the WHKratz approach to borrowing the Outlook Contact database structure to manage Projects and their associated Tasks within Outlook.

I occasionally use TealTracker on my Palm for tracking time utilization.  It's not bad.

I experiment with Project, a Palm-based project outliner (Work Breakdown Structure) that integrates with Palm Tasks and has a somewhat buggy desktop mate.  

I am experimenting with Open Workbench for heavy-duty project management.

I occasionally use SmartListToGo for Palm-based databases for things like my library (way too big to be useful).  I haven't bothered to get beyond its desktop mate yet.

Only Outlook, the Palm basic apps, and TealTracker would be candidates for what Sciral Consistency seems to do: help in the establishment of regular habits.  Oh, and paper.

I wish that there were one comprehensive, integrated package that handled all the aspects of personal organization the way I wanted without me having to program it, but just writing down what I want makes it clear what a pipe dream it is.

"My Life Organized" looks like another interesting piece of software to look at once it is out of Beta.


 
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rick30316
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« Reply #6 on: July 06, 2005, 03:14:03 PM »

A note about archiving email. Here's what I do:

1) Get a Gmail account
2) Download Mail Act-On
3) Configure Apple Mail.app. It's sweet, especially in Tiger.
4) Setup a keyboard shortcut (ctrl-K for me) to forward to GMail for archiving
5) While you're in Mail's prefs, you can setup a rule to forward all messages older than 60 days or so to your new GMail archive
6) Now set a trigger in Quicksilver to boom - take you off to GMail to search your archive when necessary. Mine is ctrl-opt-cmd-G
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rick30316
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« Reply #7 on: July 06, 2005, 03:19:05 PM »

I'm sick of Retrospect - just sick of it. They treat the Mac like an ugly stepchild.

I like Deja Vu and Super Duper

At night on the way to bed, I plug a firewire cable from my cheap external hard drive into my laptop, and it all happens automagically. Every 10 days or so, thanks to Sciral Consistency, I take the hard drive to the office for safekeeping and bring home another.
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