Posts Tagged ‘productivity’

gtd agenda now in android, evernote flavors

My favorite online productivity and time management tool, GTD Agenda, is now available as an Android app. You can download it from their website or look for it in the Android Market.

To make it even more versatile and flexible, their newsletter says:

Gtdagenda now syncs with Evernote, and you can attach Evernote notes to your Gtdagenda contexts and projects.

Evernote is the ultimate storage solution for your notes, your “External Brain”. Keep all your reference material in Evernote and link what you need to your Gtdagenda projects and contexts.

Here’s how to do it:

GTD Agenda helps you implement David Allen’s GTD Method, as well as the Zen to Done and 7 Habits techniques, and tailor it to fit your unique needs for school, home, and work.

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best tricks with favorite things

I spent a couple of hours at Starbucks (Yupangco Makati branch) waiting for my sister to finish lunch with friends. It was her last day in Manila; I was to take her to the airport in the late afternoon so she could catch a flight back to Dubai, where she has been based for the past ten years.

I had some of my favorite things with me to pass the time productively.

The coffee is a Double Tall Dark Cherry Mocha nonfat, no whip, one Splenda. (“Are you sure you still want the Splenda, ma’am? The syrup is very sweet…” I always add one Splenda when I take an extra espresso shot.) The caffeine jolt is necessary to jump-start my brain.

The book is the ninth edition of Theories of Human Communication by Stephen Littlejohn and Karen Foss. It is one of the bibles of the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication. It explains around 126 theories, give or take a few. I read and re-read chapters when I have free time.

The mobile phone is a year-old Nokia 5310 XpressMusic. They didn’t have the pink one when I got this one, which I would have bought for the color. I prefer skinny candy-bar phones, which I can easily hold in one hand for texting. I dislike clamshell and slider types, because the more moving parts there are in a gadget, the more parts there are that are likely to break.

The fountain pens are my daily road warriors. Lacking a proper pen case that can accommodate the six or eight pens that I rotate on a monthly basis, I use a plastic Waterman case that the red Hemisphere came in. Yes, I know, it’s not the best thing for the pens, they’ll scratch each other, but it’s only temporary, I promise.

The purple leather two-pen case is a Christmas gift from my friend Leigh.It’s adorable, just as she is.

Armed with these things and in between downing gulps of coffee, I wrote entries in my ”communication diary”, a large Scribe (Moleskine knock-off) notebook covered with olive silk. The diary is homework for our Communication Research 201 class with Dr. Joey Lacson and must be entirely handwritten. I used a different pen for each entry, so the words pop off the pages in a whirl of colorful inks – Private Reserve Naples Blue, Caran d’Ache Sunset, J. Herbin Cyclamen Rose, Pilot Iroshizuku asa-gao (morning glory blue).

I also texted the entire Board of Directors of the company I work for, telling them that it was a year since they hired me and thanking them for giving me the opportunity to work with them. After that I cleared my messages and deleted unnecessary files, freeing up valuable storage space for data.

I snapped photos of my pens using my mobile phone camera to use as my phone screen wallpaper.

From time to time I would jot down meetings and other reminders in my planner, while at the same time listening to too-loud conversations of other patrons rather than tuning them out. It’s not eavesdropping because they are talking loud enough for others to hear. As a communication student, it’s one way of observing communication behavior in the field.

One young woman, a self-proclaimed frequent traveler, complained to her friend in the colegiala accent of privileged female private Catholic high school students about losing her baggage on a flight to Paris. “It was the first time, and I never though such a thing would happen to me,” she said. “Don’t take anything for granted.”

At another table, an elderly man sitting with eight friends was telling them about a recent golf tournament he played in. “I played eight holes then almost collapsed,” he said. “I wasn’t feeling ill or anything. It just shows that anything can happen, even the least expected.”

My two hours at the coffee shop were well-spent. I completed several important tasks, relaxed in soothing surroundings, and was reminded by others of an important bit of wisdom – “Never take anything for granted.”

Multi-tasking with things that are chosen carefully with functionality foremost in mind helps you be more productive. Find out what things work best for you given your own particular way of doing things. What’s good for someone else might not be what’s right for you.

Once you’ve found out what kind of tools you’re comfortable with and make you more effective, stick with them, while still keeping an open mind on new things. It’s not a case of old dog, old tricks, but rather old dog, best tricks.

When my sister texted that her lunch was over and she was on her way to meet me, I packed up my favorite things, drained my coffee cup, and walked out the door with a sense of accomplishment. Now that felt good.

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look, dick and jane.

See Jenny’s planner.

See, see.

It is red. It is Moleskine.

It is an eighteen-month Pocket Weekly Diary from July 2008 to December 2009.

Jenny writes on it with a fountain pen.

Look at the fountain pen.

Look, look.

It is brown. It is old.


It is a 1944 double-jewel Parker Vacumatic with a 14-karat gold stiff extra-fine nib lovingly restored by Butch Palma.


See the pen and the planner.

They are pretty.

Very, very pretty.

Maybe they will help Jenny be more organized and productive and less apt to procastinate and forget important tasks and meetings.

Maybe, maybe.

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todoodlist: simple ways to productivity through paper

Witty Brit writer Nick Cernis offers a simple paper-based productivity and time-management system in his e-book Todoodlist.

Cernis says that complex systems and electronic devices such as PDAs “only add to stress levels.” He explains, “Technology often increases the problem of being productive. It doesn’t always solve it.”

Inspired by methods he developed “to be more productive with less based on my own experience as a fallen gadget geek,” Cernis wrote Todoodlist as a guide for the rest of us. It’s an e-book that “teaches fun ideas and productive methods to get things done using simpler tools that help reduce stress, not compound it.”

What’s in the book? Nick says:

The full contents are split across three handy sections for quick reference:

Part 1) Seven punchy, light-hearted essays exploring our complex lives that tackle the question: “Why’s everything so complex, anyway?” Includes Zen Kitten in a Box and Parrots in Space.

Part 2) Five fun, unmissable, paper-based systems that will change the way you look at pen and paper forever and help you simplify your life. (Don’t miss the story of how I ended up swapping my PDA for a banana!) Features the Todoodlist – a fun way to get things done on paper, and the Sudoku Calendar - another of the deliciously low-tech ideas I use every day.

Part 3) The Five-Step Guide to reduce complexity in your life. Practical advice to help you live simply that you can put into practice and get results with today. Part Three also includes the blueprint for launch, a beautifully simple, one-page printable list of questions to help you launch new projects faster and turn your pipe dreams into reality.

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gtdagenda: keeping you on track

As a busy but usually disorganized writer and manager, I’m always interested in ways to manage my time and tasks. The last thing I want to happen is to let down a client because I forget to send reports on time, or lose my newspaper column because I keep missing deadlines.

I tried the PDA route for about a year and a half, but discarded it after a while. The device was cumbersome (an O2 XDA) and I couldn’t carry it in small handbags or in my pocket. I would also forget to charge it and would often be dismayed to lose my work when the device died on me.

I went back to the old-school paper-based method, and I now use a Hipster PDA and Moleskine Weekly Diary for data collection.

But I then realized my system was incomplete – how could I be reminded of birthdays and other similar occasions? I also needed a backup plan just in case I lost my notebooks.

A web-based system was ideal, but I wanted one that was based on the David Allen GTD (“Getting Things Done”) philosophy, which has helped me increase my productivity at work.

Luckily, I came across the web-based GTDagenda. I checked it out, and here’s what I found:

1. It’s based on the GTD system of Calendar, Projects, Tasks and Next Actions, and Contexts.

Screenshot of the GTDagenda tour

2. It incorporates other time-management principles such as Goals (career and personal).

3. Because it’s flexible, it can be used to implement other systems such as ZTD (“Zen to Done”) and Covey’s “Seven Habits”.

It takes some getting used to, but if you’re aware of GTD basics, you can feel your way around the user-friendly system. Starting out, you can take a “tour” of GTDagenda’s features and how to adapt it to your specific purposes.

The interface is stress-free, using simple fonts in cool blue and green. The layout is minimal and clean, no clutter, making navigation easier.

Once you open your account, you’ll be taken to your page, which has a menu bar at the top – “Goals”, “Projects”, “Tasks”, “Next Actions”, “Checklists”, “Schedules”, and “Calendar”. You’ll see the list of your Tasks immediately, while sidebars contain a Calendar, your Contexts, and Projects.

GTDagenda also helps you prioritize your Goals, Projects and Tasks; links your Projects to Goals; shows if your Tasks are still active or completed; and provides you with a timeline reminder to check if you are still on track.

The “Checklists” option lets you list things that need to be done weekly – “exercise”, “update blog” – with tick-boxes for each day. “Schedules” lists your routine. I don’t think I’ll be using these, but it’s nice to know that they’re there for those who require such structures.

To get into the habit of checking your GTDagenda daily, add the URL to your tab group favorites and click on it first thing when you fire up your PC. My Daily Tab Group includes my Yahoo email, Facebook, and Friendster sign-in pages; my website (; and now, my log-in page for GTDagenda. (Open them all up in succeeding tabs and click on “Add Tab Group to Favorites” on your browser.)

Anything that helps you keep track of things you need to get done, is a good thing.

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gtd, my style

Busy people who also happen to be disorganized often look for methods on how to best manage their time and efforts to achieve optimum results within the specified timeframe. Over years, many techniques have been developed and the choices are varied and confusing. How to tell which way will work best for you?

I’ve found this to be effective: read as much as you can about time-management methods, list down the tips that appeal to you, and through trial-and-error, create your own system that will work with your personal habits and way of thinking.

After going through quite a few systems and planners, I’ve finally developed a system that increased my productivity, wasted less time, and left nothing undone. It’s loosely based on David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” (GTD) action-management method insofar that I free my mind to actually work on tasks “by moving tasks out of (my) mind and recording them externally.”

I’ve tried using large, book-type planners but found them too heavy to lug around in my bag and too unwieldy to use in the field. So I trawled the ‘Net for ideas and came up with this system:

  1. “Hipster PDA” - (bottom left) A sheaf of 3x 5 index cards held customarily by a binder clip or metal ring. I use a pink carabiner to make it easy to flip the cards. This is my “to-do” list. Color-coded cards organize the action tasks by context: blue, “@Work”, pink, “@Home”, white, Projects, because these are the categories that make sense for me.
  2. Dashed notation for action items: – : action item undone; + : done; <-: waiting for another action;   -> : delegated; (-) : moved to another list; * : cancelled/abandoned; and the division sign for ‘on hold’. It is easy to use because you always start with just a dash.
  3. Pocket Red Moleskine 18-month Weekly Diary: (bottom right) For listing appointments, meetings, etc. Its the perfect size for me – small enough to carry in handbag or tuck in pocket, I’m never without it.
  4. Desk planner – (top) With two pages allotted for each day, it’s where I list all the little bits of information that come my way - phone numbers, notes of telephone conversations, sudden inspirations – rather than write them on scraps of paper that can get lost or misplaced. In the GTD system, it’s my “bucket” where I capture the data for later processing.

I also have an 8-1/2 x 11 size three-ring binder with tabbed divisions. Each division corresponds to one project – ex. “Short Story Collection”, “Racing History Book”. It’s where I write down notes, proposals, plans, mind-maps, and the like. I review my binder weekly, and list down action tasks pertaining to current projects in my Hipster PDA.

People get frustrated when choosing one time-management system and forcing themselves to work with it rather than make it work for them. Customizing a system yields better results and will help you on your way to professional and personal productivity.

(Yes, the pen on the Moley and all the pens in the pen-case are fountain pens.)

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