TechTips Vol II – Software

For the last couple of months I’ve been focusing on my productivity and efficiency. I, like many others, constantly try do more within the time available. I’m sure we all have said “If there were only more time in the day…”. I don’t think the problem is time, I think it is time management. I have no magic, no dark secrets, just experience. One of the best resources I have found is GTD. Please feel free to explore that when you make time (It’s worth it, in order to find more time).

The best take away I have gotten from it is Task Management. I’ve tested a couple different software packages and is a terrific product.

  • It works on Mac or Windows, or your Google Android Phone (which I have..)
  • It’s free, no catch.
  • Pleasant, well thought out interface.
  • Searchable.
  • Sync’s with their system so it is always backed up and available on multiple computers at once.
  • Allows you to assign or be assigned tasks from other peers on the system
  • Creates a web based calendar with your scheduled tasks that you can view in iCal, Google, or Outlook (it’s an .ics file)

Steps to Use it

  • Intake – In the inbox of intake ALL your to do’s, literally ALL of them. Don’t organize them yet, just intake.. You can even give your task a note, website link, or any other details necessary to accomplish them.
  • Organize – There are two concurrent ways to organize tasks with Projects and Tags.
    • Projects – Projects have finite start and end dates, with multiple tasks associated in order to accomplish them. Sometimes the tasks are sequential, sometimes not.
    • Tags – Tags are reserved for tasks associated with recurring themes (contexts). More than one tag can be assigned to a task.
    • Summary – You can create a project and assign tasks and assign one or more tags per task.
    • i.e. – Christmas Gifts is a project. Online, mall, brother, mother, best friend,, itunes, etc. are all tags or contexts. Some of the tasks are “Buy gift card”, “Small Sweater”, “Music”, etc.
  • Once all your tasks are noted, projects and tags created and assigned, now it’s time to associate a date. There are two dates you can define, most important is Occur date.
    • Occur date – This is when you expect to work on the task. Next Friday, tomorrow, two months, etc. This to me is the most important as it sets your schedule and holds yourself accountable. After you assign the Occur date the task immediately leaves your inbox and goes into the scheduled portion of
    • Due Date – This is the absolute last day the task needs to be accomplished, though I find this not as useful as Occur date. This setting does not change the location of the task, but give it a timeline.
  • The last and final step is “Rinse, Lather, Repeat”. Once a day, once a week, once a month, review your tasks, assign, re-organize, and stay on target. At least use this system daily to see what you need to get done, do it, and check it off, or re-assign it if it didn’t get done (for whatever reason).

Keys to Success

  • Be realistic with your due dates so you can accomplish the task when you want, it’s rewarding. Getting in the habit of constantly re-assigning tasks is detrimental to the system.
  • Use just one system and do not over analyze it.
  • Email is not a system.. Emails that contain tasks should be recorded in this system and archived or deleted.

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