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My secret to becoming more Producteev …

I admit it.  I’ve kept this one pretty low key now for a good couple of months.  

I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it until I knew I was certain.  I haven’t endorsed a task-based app in a very long time, but I feel so confident about this one, that it’s about time I share my excitement.  

You know how we all get about these kinds of things, right?  We hear about a new productivity website, and we quickly abandon the old and go right to what looks new and shiny.  Not that I was keeping anything from you all, but I wanted to be absolutely certain about this one before I let you all know!  Bobby Travis over at 40Tech told me about them, I read his blog post (and his guest post for Producteev), and if you’ve been following along with my tweets, you’ll note I’m a bit enamored with them.

Here it is …

It’s called Producteev (wait, you figured that one out already from the title? :)) …

… and I love it!
Here’s 4 1/2 5/12 (see update below!) indispensable reasons I’ve become more “Producteev with this app …
1. The right tool for the right job.
I’ve said this before in some of my comments on Evernote & Springpad posts (oh, and here, here, here, and here) and it’s worth repeating here – when it comes to productivity, you need the right tool for the right job.  I’m a big technology fan like everyone else who subscribes and follows my blog.  However, sometimes the tools that want to do 1,000 things right, sometimes gloss over the important details in their pursuit to become the Swiss Army knife of your GTD world. Therefore, having the right tool for tasks is mission critical because you don’t want to be in the situation where you’ve overlooked an important task.

Producteev has a gorgeous interface.  It’s beautifully laid out and easy on the eyes.  As I’ve noted before, the more user-friendly an app is, the more likely we are to use it more often.  Right from the beginning, you can easily see where you’re supposed to input your tasks: it looks like a large Google-like search bar and it aptly says, “Type here to create a task…”  
Underneath, you easily assign it to a colleague, schedule it for a specific date, label it (great for contexts & projects), set privacy, and attach files (yes, files!).  Hit the big green “ADD” button, and you’re done!  It’s really, that easy.

On the left, you have many easy to understand options.  Easy is the key word here – unlike what I’ve seen with so many other task apps.  First, you can create multiple “workspaces”.  In a nutshell, if you follow GTD – think of this as your different Areas of Focus.  I have a few setup – Work, Home, Blog, and some other joint ventures I’m working on right now.  Think about that for a second – how cool is that!  Depending upon where you are, you can easily filter all of your tasks by area of focus.  Love it.

Beneath that, you can search through all of your tasks (very awesome), and then limit what you want to see.  Do you want to see all of your tasks with all of your workspaces and then filter by label, what’s hot, starred, what’s due today, what’s assigned to me, team tasks, etc.  I can’t stress how important the ability to quickly and easily be able to navigate through all of your tasks in an easy interface that beautifully laid out.  

In the main portion of the screen, are all of your tasks, color coded by your labels, priority stars, due date, an ability to do batch changes, a nicely designed check mark to say you completed your task, and sorting.  Yes, you know by now, that I am a big fan of sorting correctly.  You can sort (and view in calendar mode!) by date created, deadline, label, modified, priority, title, etc.  Love it.
But, here’s the real ingenious part of the layout – notice on the right hand side the numbers? What is that you ask?  This is why you need the right tool for the right job.  This is a comment box where you or members of your team are actually adding comments about this particular task and adding files, if need be.  How great, right?  How would you use this?  Here’s two great examples: 1) I need to follow up with Joe Smith on whether he’s going to close a deal by June 29.  I put in the comment box, “6/10 left a voice mail.”, then hit post.  Comment 2: “Joe called, and he’s waiting on approvals from management.”, then hit post. That way, I always know what happened and how this task is coming along!  

Likewise, let’s say I’m collaborating with someone else.  Joe is assigned a task, “Review contract.” I can attach a file for Joe to review right here in the comments section – i.e., “Hey Joe, attached is the contract for your review. Please red line it and post changes.” Well,  Joe will automatically receive an e-mail notification from Producteev letting him know a new task is assigned to him and provides the hyperlink.  He sees the task and the file! He pulls it down, modifies the contract, hits complete, and voila! 

Lastly, at the very bottom right, there is a clipboard.  If you click this, it will always keep you posted in real-time about notifications for you and your team activities about things added. Again, love it.

2.  Integrations with Email, IM & Google Tasks/Outlook sync – oh my!

One of the issues with so many apps out there is the inability to quickly add tasks no matter where you are or what app or device you’re on.  Producteev solves that challenge by integrating with e-mail, instant messaging, and Microsoft Outlook!  Seriously.  All of these options can be setup in preferences in the top right. Here’s my workflow:

E-mail: This is particularly helpful during my day job.  I receive an e-mail that requires my attention. I’ll forward that e-mail to In the subject line, I’ll change it to read, “Call Joe about the presentation. Next week. #work ##calls.”  Here’s what happens almost instantaneously – Producteev creates a new task for you, which has been scheduled for next week & synced with your calendar (see below) in the Work workspace and labeled Calls. Oh, and the body of your e-mail – yep, it went right to the comments section of the task. Honestly and truly, it’s nirvana.  Oh, and a PS: you can receive an email notification letting you know it’s been added.

Instant Messenger: I actually started using Google Talk more because of Producteev!  Whether I’m on my home laptop, work laptop, or on the go with my Droid Incredible, I can easily send a task to Producteev!  For example, let’s say I need to remember to buy some milk after work.  Straight from Gmail or the GTalk Chrome App, IM Producteev, “Remember to buy the milk today #home ##errands”.  I think you can guess what will happen by now – and you’ll receive an IM back letting you know it was successful!

Calendar: If you’re a big GTD fan, you know that tasks belong with tasks and hard deadlines should be scheduled on a calendar.  As David Allen says, a calendar is a holy place designed for appointments.  Well, I do like to know, when I scan my tasks, if there is a specific deadline coming up for something, so I do mark it accordingly.  But, the really cool thing here is that I can actually sync this with my Google Calendar (which is synced with my Outlook calendar) so I always know on my calendar as well when something is due.  This is crazy cool and I couldn’t be happier with this tight integration.

Google Tasks/Microsoft Outlook Sync: Producteev recently unleashed this monster of productivity goodness a couple months ago.  Here’s how this works:

Outlook Sync: After installing the Outlook plugin, you can enjoy the following awesomeness: 
  • Put Outlook tasks in the cloud and access them from all Producteev applications (mobile, desktop, web…)
  • Turn emails into tasks in 1-click
  • 2-way synchronization between Outlook to-dos and Producteev
  • Sync labels between Outlook and Producteev
  • Sync with Outlook calendar
Google Sync: If you are a Gmail user (which most of us are), you can now do the following awesomeness:
  • Turn gmail emails into tasks in Producteev
  • 2-way synchronization between Google Tasks and Producteev
  • Sync notes and deadlines in real time
  • Add more features to Google Tasks: collaboration, apps, multiple projects / tags

3. Daily and Weekly Reviews

David Allen is a firm believer in a Weekly Review to make sure all of your commitments have been handled, close any open loops, and determine your next actions for the following week.  Producteev can help in this very important process.  In your preferences, you can have Producteev e-mail you a Daily and a Weekly Review of all of your upcoming tasks, and late tasks.  I really enjoy the Daily Review e-mails I get because it helps me get my head focused on the mission I need to accomplish for the day.  

4. Collaboration with others

Collaboration is king.  We can all accomplish much more in life if we collaborate with our peers in accomplishing projects.  Producteev has you covered there as well.  As noted above, you can easily add people to one of your workspaces.  You simply need to click on “Add People” on the lower left-hand side.  By doing so, you can invite collaborators via Email.  Once they are invited, they will receive an e-mail request to have them sign up and join your workspace.

5. One more thing …

Oh, and one more thing … If you’re looking to convert from other to-do apps, such as Remember the Milk (sorry guest poster, Kevin Tea!), you can easily import your RTM tasks to Producteev.
So there it is – my little secret now out of the box on how I’ve become more “Producteev”!  It is absolutely worth checking it out and signing up.  I do want to thank everyone at Producteev – especially Judi, their Community Manager, for all of her responsiveness.  Like Katin at Springpad, responsiveness to feedback is king in surviving in this space.
Let me know what you all think in the comments below!

5.5 UPDATE: Integration with Evernote!

Here’s just one more reason to really love Producteev – integration with Evernote!  Check this out – you can actually leverage the new note linking feature within Evernote to clip a link to your task. 

Then, create your task in Producteev, and paste the link from Evernote in the description! 

Then, when you are ready to take action on the task, you simply click on the link, and your computer will automatically open that note in your Evernote!  Genius, I tell you! 🙂


Why Springpad Will Never Replace Evernote

**UPDATE: Please take a look at my latest post called, “Holy Springpad, Batman — I’ve been Sprung … and Why I admit I’m now wrong” for a fresh new look at Springpad’s amazing updates!**

I must have downloaded Springpad … and then deleted it … and then downloaded it … and then deleted it a half dozen times. Why? Because I wanted to give Springpad a fair shake. I love the guys over at and it’s probably because of their post on Evernote vs Springpad that I decided to give it more of a serious look. Reading posts on why people are switching to Springpad from Evernote truly makes me wonder why they’re using Evernote to begin with if that’s the case. As you all know, getting back on task is huge for me.

Here’s the thing for me about Springpad: I just don’t get it … and I like to think of myself as a pretty smart guy. So, I’ve outlined two main (and fairly simple) reasons why I won’t ever switch: creating a note & creating a task.

Creating a note
I use Evernote on my iPad to create notes while I’m at a client meeting. Here’s how that process works in Evernote. Open App. Tap new note. Begin typing. Add tags. Happiness.


There’s nothing very mysterious about it. The same applies if I’m at my PC and on a conference call. New note. Begin typing. Add tags. Easy. Happiness.

Here’s how that process works in Springpad for the iPad.

Step 1: tap the “+” sign.

Step 2: tap “Add by Type”.

Step 3: tap “Note”.

Step 4: type the note.

Besides being convoluted and way too many steps — there’s no tags. You can add it to a list – but without tags, there’s no real efficient way of sorting through my meeting notes! I know fromreading comments on Springpad’s blog that there’s plan’s to add mobile tags soon – but until the do, where’s the real value?

What’s equally frustrating, is trying to type new notes online. Here’s how that works:

Step 1: You have to first select the type of note you want.

Step 2: Then you need to title it.

Step 3: Then you need to click on edit once it appears in the drop down to begin typing out your note.

Step 4: Then, once you’ve typed your note and clicked on save,

Step 5: Then, you have to then go back to the list, click on the title to finally categorize and add any tags to the note.

Conclusion: Springpad is definitely not at the place it should be for anyone seriously looking (for whatever odd reason) for an alternative to Evernote; especially for business people!

Creating a task
Equally as frustrating is the ability to simply create tasks in a meaningful way. The big gripe for many in Evernote is the ability to use it as a GTD tool. Search for it on Google and you’ll see what I mean! I completely appreciated those comments; that is, until I downloaded Egretlist through Evernote’s new Trunk offering. See my last post. In any event, within Springpad’s iPad app & online, you can create a task and then enter a due date, category & description of the task. For anyone who is a serious follower of the GTD methodology, there’s substantive problems with this method.

For example, I’d want to be able to tag a task by context (i.e., @home, @office, @computer, @errands), Someday/Maybe, Waiting for, by project, and perhaps whom I’ve assigned the task to with tags (#joe, #chris, #sally). Within Springpad, you can only assign one category. I thought perhaps I might have found a workaround by tapping on “Add to a list”. When you do that, you can either create a list or add to an existing list. Technically, one could use category as context and then under list, add your projects & tags – or some various thereof.

As I pointed out in my post about Evernote & Egretlist, I can easily add tasks in Egretlist see them immediately in Evernote. I can create the tasks in Evernote and see them appear in Egretlist. Again, simple – the way I need it to be for fast moving and on the fly task & project management.


I think Springpad is okay for those people who don’t need a serious task & project management tool. It’s great for what it does, but I subscribe to the theory that your product should try to do up to 3 things right and do it at 100%; not try and be 1,000 things to attract the masses. Springpad I think is trying to do everything – create notes, create tasks, remember your favorite wine, book, restaurant, movie, business, provide reviews of products, helps you shop online, and you can download “apps” of varying types to throw into your account to help you do scores of other things. Again — it’s great, if you like that kind of thing.

Evernote’s core offering is creating notes … and it does a damn good job! It allows you to organize those notes easily through notebooks & tags. With its latest collaboration efforts with other companies through the Trunk, it offers integrations with complementary products to make Evernote more robust — while at the same time, not erroding Evernote’s streamlined interface that so many have come to love.

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