On writing my first eBook …
I am extremely excited and proud to let you all know that I’ll be publishing my very first eBook in the near future entitled, “Evernote: The unofficial guide to capturing everything and getting things done.”
The cool thing is that this eBook is about you. All of you that subscribe to this blog, follow me on Twitter, and “circled” me on Google+. It’s your input and feedback that has given me inspiration to write this eBook.
Even if you’ll never use Evernote, there’s a plethora of ideas in here on how you can make this applicable to all aspects of your life and leveraging the GTD methodology. So because you all are incredible, I’m wondering how many of you would be even interested in paying a mere $5 for reading my eBook? If you could become more productive and efficient, would this be worthwhile? What are some of the things you’d hope for in an eBook such as this? Let me know and I’ll be sure to include! Oh, and I’ll be running several giveaway promotions on its launch date. Something tells me that people who subscribe to the blog will probably be happy! 🙂
So, for now, a tease … the Prologue.
The purpose of this eBook is to help your mind relax, allow you to breathe easier, and allow you to become more productive by being able to make better decisions in the overly saturated productivity apps space. I will objectively overview the most well known and maybe some obscure apps that all claim to make you more productive, give you back control, and adhere to the wildly popular Getting Things DoneⓇ (“GTD”) methodology. The benefit to taking the time reading this eBook is that you will not only be able to make better decisions about how to organize your life in the electronic world, but but this will also be a “living eBook”. In other words, every quarter, you will receive an email notification, letting you know that I’ve added sections, and will let you know exactly what I’ve added. In essence, this is the eBook that keeps on giving! Cheers!
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 …
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.
2. Integrations with Email, IM & Google Tasks/Outlook sync – oh my!
- 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
- 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
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 …
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! 🙂
Guest Post: How Remember the Milk Rocks Kevin Tea’s World!
I really like being asked by folks if they can do a guest post on my blog for two reasons: 1) I love the community that has come together here on this site and how we all strive to be more productive and efficient in life; and 2) it certainly takes the pressure off of me! 🙂 To that end, if you are interested in becoming a guest blogger on the site, simply e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!
About Kevin Tea: Kevin runs Web2 and More website and is a journalist and marketing communications specialist of more years than he cares to remember. He has worked with some of the leading blue chip companies in the UK and Europe. He has worked closely with a virtual network of serviced office providers called the Global Office Network and established online fora so that members could communicate with each other and potential customers. He was a contributing author to Webweaving – Intranets, Extranets and Strategic Alliances along with someone called Bill Gates. For more information, visit his site with the link above.
As a journalist I have a thing about the purity of language. I remember recoiling in horror when my then ‘teenage son sent me an email which was mix of SMS text abbreviation and gangsta rap, which he was listening to at the time.
I get the same sort of shivering revulsion when I see some of the names given to cloud computing and social media services to think of the silliest name possible where spelling and grammar are consigned to the flaming pits of hell. Flickr, Tumblr, Quipster, Tweasier … the list goes on and on.
Whether or not this fixation with names reflects itself in those services I choose to accept or reject I have no idea, but I admit to liking a quirky of humour which could be why I chose Remember The Milk as my task manager or personal information manager of choice. And I’ve tried a few over the years. Time and Chaos was a favourite for a while and there was even something from Lotus that resembled a Filofax and when I dumped my old Nokia and invested in an Android smartphone I dallied with Toodledo because it synced with my favourite PIM Pocket Informant. The trouble was that the desktop app for Toodledo was an ugly little sucker which brought me back to Remember The Milk.
Who could fail to be impressed by a company whose key member of staff is Bob T Monkey whose resume on the staff page reads:
A system of sparking the synapses in my aging memory is getting essential and Remember The Milk works well for me at so many levels. First of all it spreads itself across my home desktop via the web interface, it syncs with the Remember The Milk app on my smartphone and I can push tasks to it from my day job Outlook via a dedicated email address.
I am not a huge fan of fussy interfaces and the slightly Zen Minimalist look of Remember The Milk suits me down to the ground. I recently got an email from Toodledo saying I had not used the service for some time and my account was going to be deleted so out of curiosity I revisited the site and remembered why I had abandoned it in the first place.
When you first join RTM you are given an inbox and tabbed sections for personal, work and outbox. The inbox is where allocated tasks from outside such as my work Outlook land and the outbox is where tasks I allocate to others from RTM. You can build your own tabs – as you can see I have added just one for my blog. Below that are buttons that allow you to mark a task as completed or postponed,. plus a drop-down menu that provides a broad spectrum of extra options from allocating priority levels and deleting tasks through to moving tasks from the various tabbed areas.
On the next lime down are some simple filter options. To the right of this is a three tabbed section with lists, share and publish options. As you mouse over the various tasks in the left hand section their properties are highlighted and you can then alter options like properties, dates due etc. In Share you have tasks which you work with others on and they can add and change tasks; publish allows you to push the tasks to others but they cannot change or alter the task.
So far, so simple, but the real power of Remember The Milk for me is in the way it handles input syntax to format tasks. Say this is a Monday and I type in “Pick up neutered aardvark from vets Friday”it allocates that task to the next Friday. Similarly if I type in “Arrange to have aardvark neutered June 27”the system will allocate that task to June 27. I just love that simplicity. RTM also enables you to attach notes to tasks and locations such as your local pub!
If you work in an organisation or a virtual organisation you have the power to create lists of contacts and groups of contacts such as dev team, marketing, management etc.
Remember the Milk has pro versions for the iPhone, Android, Windows Mobile and Blackberry OS’s, and via any web enabled phone through the browser.Integration just doesn’t stop there. You can add RTM to your Google Calendar and Gmail, iGoogle.
A sign of any great service is that it continues to grow and add functions and facilities and is prepared to back that expansion up with a comprehensive support package both in terms of web based FAQs and human intervention – I doubt if you’d get much help from Bob T Money, but you never know.
I am aware that I have barely scratched the surface, but I hope that I have piqued your interest and give the site a visit and even play around with it because I am convinced it is one of the best services out there.
What do you think of Kevin’s Guest Post? Are any of you using Remember the Milk? If so, what has your experience been like so far? Let us know in the comments below! Thanks again, Kevin, and great post!
Visualized: Evernote vs Springpad – is it really a competition?
“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
For so many of you that follow my blog, becoming more productive is like caffeine for our brains. The desire to be more productive motivates us. It drives us. Performing at work and life at peak productivity levels is our passion. We long to find the right app on our computers, iPhones, Androids, iPads, and other tablets to help make that happen. Our goal: know what we need to do and with whom, whenever and wherever we are in work and at home. And it’s come down to this: Springpad and Evernote. You’ve all read my posts: but for you newbees, a brief recap: I fell in love with Evernote. I chastised Springpad. Then, like a regretful teenager who dumped his girlfriend and wants a second chance, I saw the shiny & new Springpad and repented. I even went head-over-heels like a GTD Ninja in Springpad. But then again, showing how weak and pathetic I am, Evernote comes out with their shiny & new. Oh, how fickle can one productivity geek get? The audacity of it all!! And so, on Twitter and on my posts, I get this question from so many of you: Which is it now – Springpad or Evernote?
The reality is that they are two different products with many similarities. They appeal to different target audiences with the same end game in mind. Even Jeff Janer, co-founder of Springpad wrote that once on Quora. He’s not really trying to compete against Evernote – but now, with Evernote’s latest kung-fu moves (Android update, New web interface, social media sharing, and desktop redux), there’s so many striking similarities. Both apps, I believe have their place with a specific segment in the note-taking-remember-everything space. Evernote has been pushing educational, photographer & visual arts, musicians use cases in a big way. Springpad has been really amping up their usefulness when shopping, cooking, sharing bookmarks, and of course, it’s overall usefulness in sharing notes with the world.
There’s definitely a cross-over market for both sets of people as well. I’m the perfect example. Evernote is really for business and Springpad is for everything else in my life. I use Evernote in business meetings, jotting down notes on client calls, storing customer literature pieces, presentations, managing expenses, and anything else that you can think of that requires stuffing digital files into this online repository for work. I love the OCR & advanced search capabilities, nested notebooks & tags. Springpad has its home for me for being able to “semantically detecting what you’re saving and structuring the data so that we can use the meta data to add relevant information and useful offers to help you save time and money.”, which include my recipes, shopping lists, todo’s, and bookmarks. I love The Board for the ability to visualize and brainstorm projects. Can you accomplish all of the above? Well, sort of. That’s the reason I sincerely don’t believe one will dominate the next.
Well, I thought of no better way to illustrate the differences than with a … well, an illustration! So, like any good 7-year old would, let’s draw!
My Interview with Nozbe Founder, Michael Sliwinski
Differentiating yourself in the GTD business can be extremely difficult.
It seems as if there is a new startup company everyday that professes to be true to the core ideals set forth in David Allen’s book, “Getting Things Done”. The question then becomes for those companies with lasting power and sustainability – what differentiates you? What is your unique business value you have to millions hungry for the “perfect” system? I took this challenge on to find out myself. I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to interview one of the thought leaders in this space, Michael Sliwinski, founder of Nozbe. Your comments are welcomed!
Dan G: What is your background prior to creating Nozbe – and where did you get the name from?
Michael S: I’ve always been working online and prior to founding Nozbe I was just an e-commerce consultant for other companies – I was helping other companies sell their stuff online by building their Internet Shops, Inventory Management Apps, etc. I founded my one-man consultancy right after I finished my University – I studied Business and Management with Marketing but in my spare time I was learning to program PHP and build web sites and web apps.
Nozbe was a name of the project I did with w friend of mine during studies. The name came from our play with the phrase “To Be Naturally OrganiZed” and it was an email reminder service. It was more of a study-project than an actual app. We stopped developing it after studies but I kept paying for the domain, because I liked the name. Many years later I picked it up again for the Nozbe that you see now.
DG: What was your biggest inspiration behind Nozbe?
MS: It was the GTD book by David Allen of course – as I mentioned, I was doing E-commerce consulting at the time and I was beginning to be very successful with this and have many clients… and started feeling overwhelmed. I read the GTD book which a friend of mine recommended to me and right after reading it I fell in love with the concept and decided to get an app that will help me implement it. It was 2005 and I couldn’t find anything that would be really good for implementing GTD and Outlook wasn’t doing a good job with it… so I decided to build an app just for myself.
After a weekend of coding I had a very basic version of Nozbe with Next Actions and Projects… and started using it right away. As I knew PHP, I built it as a web app running locally on my computer. After a year of working with this app and improving it over time I realized that if it works for me, it might work for some other folks, too… so I shouldn’t be too selfish about it and show it to the world. Then I discovered the new “Ajax” techniques making the web app even more responsive and it gave me a second inspiration to re-write the app and show it to the world. I hooked it up to the Nozbe.com domain in early 2007 and the rest is history.
DG: What is it about GTD, do you think, that appeals to so many people?
MS: I think it’s because GTD is “usable” right away – you can just take away a little part of it and it already improves your life. Like for me the main take-aways from GTD were: Next Actions, Projects and Contexts and this is what I built Nozbe to begin with. When you can quickly manage your Next Actions, organize stuff into projects and get actions done in Contexts… you’re already a very organized person.
We live in times with so much information flying around that we just need some more structure and help… and GTD, being so “practical” in its core helps us get organized quickly and efficiently. We need GTD more now than ever.
DG: So many people tend to spend so much time creating that “perfect” GTD setup that often, they spend more time customizing and less time “doing”. How does Nozbe’s philosophy of “simply get things done” get people out of that trap?
Good is a lot better than perfect. With Nozbe we aim at simplicity and we very often refuse to bring some “features” that I believe are time-wasters even though our competitors implement them. Once people get a grip of GTD they tend to go the other extreme of being over-organized with complex structures and priorities… and then they lose it again and fall out of the GTD.
I’ve just celebrated 4 years of running Nozbe and I’ve been constantly refusing to add “sub-projects” to Nozbe, showing how using “labels” for projects gives you a “flat structure” of your projects and helps you organize them better. I’ve also never given in on the whole idea of “prioritization” – if you want to prioritize a task, just move it up in the project with drag and drop, don’t assign artificial “priorities of 1, 2 or 3” to your projects. We have priorities in Email messages and hardly anyone uses them. Same applies to actions in Nozbe.
On the other hand we make many processes simple – when you share a project with someone and assign an action to them, they see it right away on the Next Action list. They can choose to keep this action as their Next Action or not – it’s up to them, but you’re effectively sending “Next Actions” their way which is cool to teach your friends in your team how the GTD process flows.
DG: There are definitely a lot of players in this space now – Springpad, Evernote, Remember the Milk, SimplyGTD, Vitalist, Toodledo, NirvanaHQ, etc. – almost like GTD webapp overload, what differentiates Nozbe? In other words, what is your unique business value you offer?
MS: Yes, and the new ones are coming every month or so. I’m always joking that once someone learns basics in programming, they build their version of a task management app.
Nozbe’s aim for simplicity is one thing that differentiates us from the competitors, but it goes further than that – we aim to help people “learn GTD by doing” so we make collaboration very easy and in “GTD-style” just as I mentioned earlier – we have many success stories of managers ordering from us a “Family” or “Team” plan for their team and saying that folks who knew nothing about GTD now are getting stuff done better than anyone.
To teach people more about GTD we offer 10-step GTD course, Productive! Magazine and other resources – it helps.
As far as the app is concerned, we try to keep the interface as simple as possible (without overwhelming the user) and keep the flow as simple as can be – we’ve just recently introduced new way of approaching project labels and handling action parameters so that you can input actions with minimal effort and now we’re focus on simplifying even more the project sharing.
This, as well as our iPhone and iPad apps (and the Android app which is finally coming in March!) and our integration with other apps makes people choose Nozbe over other apps and we’re glad we can serve folks and help them organize their life better.
DG: The integration with Evernote and Google Calendar has really showed that unification & integration are key players in being a big player in this market. Are these integrations part of your overall critical success factors?
MS: Most definitely. We live in great times now that single-purpose apps bring lot of value and if we can integrate with them, we can create great synergies. I was thinking about improving our “Notes” section in Nozbe when I realized that I’m already using the best note-taking application on the planet called Evernote… so we decided to go the other route and integrate Nozbe with Evernote. We did the same thing with Google Calendar (the best calendar there is in my opinion) and we’ll be doing more integrations later this year. This way we focus on our core – which is project management – and leave the rest to the expert apps out there… and our users come to us to find out that with Nozbe they can keep on using their favorite apps… and by integrating them with Nozbe they get even more value out of it.
DG: The company has made significant improvements over the past few years – what has driven the majority of these changes?
MS: Users and our passion for productivity. In the first year of running Nozbe it was still my side-project but after a year, when it was named by Lifehack.org one of the best web apps of 2011, I “fired” practically all of my clients and focused on Nozbe entirely and have loved every minute of it. We live in interesting times and the technology is moving forward every year so fast, that it’s very hard to keep up, but we love what we do and we keep on innovating as our users keep on coming and sending us new ideas.
We listen to all ideas but we don’t implement all of them as we have to take under consideration our vision and the good of all the users… but most certainly it’s all thanks to our users that we keep on innovating and moving forward. What started as a one-man shop is now a 12-person company and we believe that by making so many people all around the world more productive with our app, we’re making the world a better place.
DG: From a strategic standpoint, what are your biggest initiatives for 2011?
MS: “Life in Sync” is what matters now – sync with our iPhone, iPad and Android apps, sync with 3rd party services and beyond that. We’re busy making it happen. For once – Nozbe.com web app will work offline entirely by the end of March (it already works offline in read-only mode).
We had to change the technology we’re using for the Android app in the beginning of this year (which moved the premiere of our Android app from January to March) because we needed to nail the technology for future sync-related developments but we believe we’ve made the right choice. Our users were not happy with the postponed deadline but they will be very happy once the app is out. I can promise that.
DG: What few things must absolutely go right in order for Nozbe to be successful in achieving these objectives?
DG: What can people expect moving beyond 2011?
MS: They can expect our dedication to productivity increase even more as we’re just totally loving our jobs making the world a more organized place. We embrace the new technologies and we love the new toys. That’s why we distribute Productive Magazine (our free PDF magazine) also as an iPad app – because we love the iPad and we want people to get the magazine that inspires them to be more productive on their favorite media-consumption toy. Our aim with the magazine is to make it a regular 2-monthly publication and we’re on our way to achieving that.
I believe that with the productivity materials and inspiration from the magazine as well as the constantly improved and more-synced Nozbe app folks will get a lot more done this year and maybe even make some of their New Year’s Resolutions a reality in 2011 and beyond. Here’s to us all being more organized, effective… and happy :-).