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Handhelds, smartphones, mobile technology and the digital lifestyle.

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    Michael is a trainer and consultant specializing in making mobility technology work in people's everyday lives.
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Posts Tagged ‘GTD’

Getting Things Done using your Palm to Process

Posted by Michael Brown on April 16, 2008

So, if you accepted the mission in our last episode, you now have a large collection of “stuff” sitting in the unfiled category of one or more applications on your Palm device. Now it’s time to start dealing with it.

Projects list in psMemoOpen each application that you put “stuff” in, go to the unfiled category and open each item there. Ask yourself “Is this actionable or not?”. If it’s not something that requires action, then you need to decide why it’s there. If it’s for future reference, then file it in the memo’s application. You can create some useful categories in the memo application that will help group similar things together, like placing them in the same “file folder”. I usually recommend the following categories as a minimum for use with memos: Reference, Projects, Someday/Maybe, and Lists. Most Palms come with Personal and Business as categories as well, so you can keep them if you prefer to separate things that way. You may want to have Projects – Business and Projects – Home if you have a lot on the go. File your memo where appropriate, and make sure the subject makes sense to you (like a summary). The subject will appear in the memo list view, and a good summary will help you find stuff later.

Let’s say your item may not be actionable now, but it’s something you may want to do in the future. That’s what the Someday/Maybe category is for. Stuff in there is “backburnered”, like a trip you might want to take, or a home improvement project you might want to do. It’s a place to keep stuff that you’ve thought of, but are not ready to do yet.

If it is actionable, then ask yourself this question “Can I do this right now in a couple of minutes?”. If you can, then just do it! Delete your item knowing you’ve just knocked off one thing you had to do.

If you can’t do it for whatever reason, then you have to decide what to do with it. First, let’s create some categories in the Tasks (or ToDo) application that will allow us to “put the wheels to the road” for when it comes time to do things. David Allen recommends using “contexts” or places to organize tasks, and recommends prefixing them with the @ symbol which has a dual meaning and a practical purpose. The dual meaning is “actionable” and “at” (as in location). By prefixing your contexts (in our case categories) with @, they will sort to the top of a list of categories, and stand out from non-actionable items.

I usually recommend the following categories or contexts for handheld use: @Work, @Home, @Errands, @WaitingFor, @Computer, and @Calls or @Phone. Since you have a handheld, and can do some things wherever you are, an @Anywhere may also be applicable if you’re able to work strictly with your mobile.

Now we have some categories, let’s start going through the items in your unfiled “inbox”. Do the things you can do in a couple of minutes: if it takes longer to track it than to do it, you’re better off just doing it! For those things that you can’t do, you have two choices; delegate it or defer it. Think about what needs to be done (and who should do it), and create a task with the appropriate description. Start it with a verb; Call Bill about project X, Buy part for car. If it’s a straight-forward, one time action, place the task into the category “where” you can do it. Call Bill would go in the @Calls category, and Buy part would go into @Errands.

Some of the items may be a part of something more complex or with more steps than a simple one-off task. For example, “buy part for car” will lead into “install part in car”. These are the things that require a bit more planning and organization than simple one-offs, so we’ll go into more detail in the next post in this series, Organizing. Now this brings us back to the audience participation part of the show; yup, more homework!

Decide what needs to be done for each thing that’s in your unfiled category. Start it with a verb, and make it specific to what needs to be done as a single action. If it’s bigger than a single action, file it in the projects category of your Memos application; we’ll look at it next time in the Organizing part of this series. Single items can be turned into tasks, and filed by the context you will be in to actually “do it” later. Calls go into @Phone, Work items go into @Work, etc. Now, let’s look at some easier ways to get stuff into a “doable” form.

AccessorizerSince the Palm OS is not multi-tasking, it can be frustrating switching between applications, and then having to find your place again when you want to switch back. In the past, DA’s or Desk accessories were created to allow you to pop up one application over top of another. A whole slew of little programs were created to allow access to the built-in databases. A gent named Alexander Pruss has made something even better than DA’s themselves. He’s created “the Accessorizer”, allowing you to generate a DA from most programs. This gives you the ability to pop-up one of the other built-ins (for example, Tasks) over top of say Memos, allowing you to copy from one application into another. Then you simply hit the Launcher button (the house icon) to return to the previous application. I’d highly recommend using the Accessorizer to create DA’s for Tasks, Memos, and Calendar. This will allow you to process, and later organize, the material you’ve collected and triaged.

DALauncher pop-upTwo things to be cautious about… One, not all applications will like to be turned into DA’s, so you may experience crashes. Start off with one application at a time, and run with it for a while before adding another. The second thing to be aware of is that you cannot pop up a DA instance of an application over top of the regular version of that application; that is, don’t pop up Memos over top of Memos, or your Palm will crash. Accessorizer can be found at 1src.com here. You’ll need a DA launcher to be able to launch your new DA applications; I use the aptly named DALauncher.

Transcribing a noteIf you use the Notepad, use the title line to transcribe what you scribbled down and then use copy and paste to get it into tasks or memos. Diddlebug has a nice transfer function, which gives you a line that you can transcribe onto and then use plugins or copy/paste to get your stuff where it needs to go. The notepad title trick works equally well for voice recorder applications like mVoice; simply listen to your recording (pausing when needed) and transcribe a shortened version onto the title line.

So, you have your homework, and some tricks that can help make it a little easier. Stay tuned for my next post in this series, Organizing using your Palm. This is Michael Brown, signing off till next time.

Originally posted to PalmAddicts here.

Posted in Palm, PalmAddicts, Productivity, Technology, Time & Task Management, Treo | Tagged: | 6 Comments »

Getting Things Done using your Palm to Collect

Posted by Michael Brown on April 12, 2008

Previously, I tantalized you with a teaser on Getting Things Done using your Palm handheld or Treo/Centro. Well, I won’t keep you in suspense; let’s get Collecting!

In his books, David Allen talks about having a Ubiquitous capture device; something that can capture all the “stuff” that comes flying your way during the day. It can be reminders to get something, someone asking you to do something, thoughts you have about projects or things to do, and so on. Chances are, if you don’t get it down somewhere, it’ll get lost in the storm of other things vying for your attention. The thing is, a mobile device like a Treo makes for the perfect Ubiquitous capture device when it’s your constant companion.

First of all, you have to capture in a means that works for your lifestyle. Look at what you’re doing now to capture “stuff”. If you use sticky notes all the time, is it because they’re convenient, or because they’re in your face? Do you like making lists? Or are you someone who uses the phone and voicemail a lot? Where does most of your “stuff” come from, and on what medium (paper, e-mail, phone/voicemail, or in-person)? Your capture and collection techniques will need to reflect where your inputs come from, and the pace you need to capture them at.

mVoicePhone-oriented individuals and those with the need to capture things quickly will want to use a voice recorder. Many Treo models and the Centros come with one built-in, as do some handhelds. In the case of my Treo 650, it didn’t, so I bought (and would highly recommend) mVoice from Motion Apps. It’s handy for getting things down quickly, and for times when my hands are otherwise occupied (like when I’m crawling around the back of an equipment rack) . Voice recordings are also handy for reinforcing your credibility and reliability to others; if you get stopped a lot with “in-person” input, they’ll have a lot of faith in your ability to deliver when they see you whip out your mobile and leave yourself a voice note about their request.

Diddlebug“Scribblers” who use sticky notes all the time may want to use the built-in notepad application (if your Palm has one). It’s like an endless supply of stickies, that are always with you. Since it’s always with you, when you need something you wrote down earlier, it’ll be with you, and not stuck to your monitor at work. If those stickies have to be “in your face”, you might want to consider Diddlebug (free) or BugMe! ($), which allow you to set alarms on notes, giving you that “in-your-face feeling”.

Listmakers who have the time to input things can use Memos. It allows you to make free form lists of “stuff”. It’s best to use one memo for each idea or input. The point is to capture or collect at this stage; you’ll deal with it later. There are other “front ends” to the memos database, so if you find that the stock one doesn’t work for you, you can look at something like psMemo (free) or MemoLeaf ($). They add additional features while still using the Memos database; something that’s important if you sync with a laptop or desktop computer to work with your “stuff” there.

Finally, for quick “one-offs”, you can capture them right to the Tasks (or ToDo) application when time permits. Those could be an errand, a call to make, or something else similarly straight-forward and actionable.

TasksNow, with all these capture techniques, you want to make sure you capture to the “unfiled” category of the application. Categories are a powerful organizational tool, as you’ll see later in this series. Palm OS allows for 15 categories plus unfiled, so we’ll create a few next time, make use of them later.

The best approach is to try each of these capture techniques, and see which feels the most natural to you. Definitely try the methods that seem closest to what you may be doing already. If it’s not quick and easy, you won’t do it. There’s also no reason why you can’t use several different methods for capturing “stuff”, depending on your situation at the time. For example, you could use memos for when you have time to input stuff, and the voice recorder for when you’re on the go.

Now it’s time for the audience participation part of the program; yup, homework! Try each of the methods for capturing “stuff” that you have on your plate right now. Try and get as much out of your head and the various other sources of input you have, and get it into your Palm device. If you sync to a laptop or desktop, you can copy and paste from e-mails into memos or tasks, to save yourself some typing. Here’s a tip for Outlook users: you can drag an e-mail and drop it on the tasks or notes folders to create a new item.

So, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to collect all your “stuff” into the unfiled categories in whichever applications suit your lifestyle. Stay tuned for our next installment, when we’ll cover “processing”. This is Michael Brown, signing off for now.

Originally posted to PalmAddicts here.

Posted in Palm, PalmAddicts, Productivity, Time & Task Management, Treo | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Getting Things Done using your Palm

Posted by Michael Brown on April 11, 2008

Getting Things Done, or GTD as it’s known to it’s practitioners, is a methodology for accomplishing things in your daily life. It’s not a “time management system”, it’s a process or methodology which enables you to be productive. It can be implemented using paper or digital means, or a hybrid combination of the two. In the next five posts in this series, I’ll be giving you tips and techniques to implement the five stages of the GTD methodology using a Palm handheld or smartphone. Many of the techniques I’ll be demonstrating will work equally well for other types of Mobile devices, like Windows Mobile, Blackberry and Symbian, when adapted to those platforms.

The five posts in this series will cover the core aspects of the GTD process, which are Collect, Process, Organize, Review and Do. Each post will focus on one aspect of the process, and how to accomplish it using a Palm OS based approach using the built-in applications and some freeware applications as a starting point. Since no two people are alike, and what works for one person may not work for another, I’ll also suggest alternatives that may cater to people’s different approaches to organization and productivity.

To get the full benefit of the GTD methodology you’d have to read David Allen’s books, but this series of posts are intended to give you a crash course in using a Palm handheld or smartphone to implement GTD. Next time we’ll cover the Collection phase, so make sure you stay tuned. Until next time, this is Michael Brown signing off.

Originally posted to PalmAddicts here.

Read the whole series:
Part 1 – Collect.
Part2 – Process.

Posted in Palm, PalmAddicts, Productivity, Time & Task Management, Treo | Tagged: | 4 Comments »