Currently Browsing: GTD and Productivity
Oct 30, 2011
Note: This post has many references to jargons that would be familiar mainly to implementers of David Allen’s system of productivity called Getting Things Done or GTD. To Learn more about GTD, you may read this post, 5 Steps to Begin Learning GTD – A Guaranteed way to Save Hours from your Workday.
Some People like Rock Stars, others adore Movie Stars, My Hero is David Allen. It’s because of David and GTD, that I am getting so much done (exercise, blog, work, study, spend time with family), yet feel relaxed. David and GTD has helped me prioritise and feel good about my priorities. Ofcourse I am not always in that zone. But when I am not, I am able to recognise that and I know what I need to do to get there. I have written oodles about GTD on this blog. Those on my mailing list have received several emails coaxing them to climb on to the GTD Bandwagon. I have even compared David to Einstein. He is a Genius. Genius is looking at what everyone is looking and seeing something different. Then to codify that difference so that it changes the world is indeed Einstein-ian indeed.
Imagine my thrill and pleasure when i finally get to meet David Allen. I had the privilege of attending his seminar in London earlier this year. It’s a seminar that I was hoping to attend for years and finally so many different factors came together that I could attend it.
The take backs from the seminar were plentiful. Here are the top few:
1. If you are still Bothered/Stressed that means subliminally you feel you can do something about it. Maybe you Should. God thinks you should.
This is huge. May seem obvious when typed out, but it was much needed therapy that I needed. GTD suggests that when anything is bothering you, first step, you write it down. Next Ask yourself, 1. What is the Successful Outcome?, 2. What is the Next Action? After practicing GTD for years, I have got most of these things nailed. Whenever something bothers me, it’s so automatic that I write it down, define the Successful Outcome, the Next Action and just move on ahead. But as you keep practicing GTD, you uncover subtler aspects of your self and psyche. And even after you identify the Successful Outcome or the Next Action, you are still left uneasy. The fact that you are feeling uneasy is your intuition (or God) nudging you that you can do better. There is a better Outcome that you can envision and achieve. Your Next Action could be more effective. And most likely it’s fear that is holding you back. And we all know we should Fear nothing but fear itself.
So next time you find yourself uneasy about an Outcome that you have envisioned or a Next Action that you need to take, congratulate yourself. Pat yourself on the back. Because you are officially capable of doing better than what you have just worked out. So take the Bold step and take the action that you are okay and comfortable with. It will all work out in the end.
2. If you keep paying attention to what has your attention, were do you eventually reach?
David’s main mantra is “pay attention to what has your attention”. If you are bothered by your kids education, pay attention to that, write it down in a trusted place, you’ll immediately feel relaxed. Next your attention will move to something else, perhaps work or exercise , notice that. Write it down in a trusted place, you’ll again feel relaxed about that. Since I’ve been practicing GTD, and I have been doing that. My question to David at the Seminar was, when you keep on paying attention to your attention where do you eventually reach? I loved the answer I got:
“You move from Distraction to Calling”
You then start listening to your voice, your intuition, your calling. You begin to hear, listen and move towards your destiny as human spirit on the planet. And that is your Only Project. If all the other Projects are helping you get there, keep ‘em on, otherwise dump ‘em.
But you’ll only know once you Pay Attention to what’s Pulling your Attention, capture that, get the distraction out of your mind/psyche so that you can truly hear your God’s voice within you.
3. You eventually get what you focus on.
We did a brilliant exercise within the seminar that deals with Focus. You see what you Focus on. You eventually get what your Focus is on. It’s The Secret all over again, but without the airy-fairy bit to it. Pay attention to your Focus. Keep asking yourself two questions:
- What are you focussed on?
(Extroadinary Fitness or Mediocre Health, Spiritual Enlightenment or Material Pursuit, Being An Active Change Agent in this World or a Helpless Consumer)
- Would you want your focus on that?
(There is a choice here. And it’s your choice.)
Overall a brilliant seminar indeed. Really thankful to God for the opportunity. It’s something that i had my attention and focus for a long time and glad that I have it checked off. Hope to make the most of what I’ve learnt there. Oh yeah, another couple of take backs. Boy, it was inspiring to see how amazingly fit David himself was. Furthermore, poor guy had a cold. Yet, because of his professionalism he didn’t let that stop him from delivering an awesome talk. Even though he had to take swigs of cold-cough syrup in between to keep going. Thank you David. Truly Awesome of you.
My mindmaps from the and Some pics from the Road Map Seminar 2011 in London:
Jan 6, 2011
For years I have been searching for an elegant solution to sync my task list between my blackberry and Mac. But nothing would cut it. There are so many clumsy attempts out there that at one point I’d thought to have the blackberry and Mac synced is an impossible riddle to crack . A real pity because the market for blackberry and Mac users out there is huge. Finally now there is the awesome app, that not only ensures that my tasks are synced between my Mac and Blackberry, but even on my iPad, infact I can access my tasks anywhere as long as I’m connected to the web.
Why Blackberry and not an iPhone
Simply because nothing tops the speed that one can get on typing on the blackberry. The iPhone keyboard sucks. Well for me it does. For the life of me I can’t type on it. Certainly not with the speed and accuracy I can on the blackberry keyboard. So it when it comes to sending SMSes, typing quick emails, jotting down tasks, with speed and accuracy, the iPhone is yet to conquer the Blackberry in my book.
First the problems with the existing setups possible:
1. The default setup: Syncing the native tasks application on Blackberry with Microsoft Outlook.
This is the second-best option that I had been running till date. I have blackberry server installed at my office. Thereby ensuring that wirelessly all my Tasks, Calendar items, Notes are wirelessly synced to my desktop. They sync is tight. Rarely or no errors. And fast. However the problems are as follows:
- Microsoft Outlook is clunky, heavy software. Operating Microsoft Outlook is like manoeuvring a truck on a crowded street.
- Microsoft Outlook has to run on Windows, which has to run on Parallel Desktop. So I’m constantly running two operating systems. That takes a lot of resources, RAM, speed and battery power out from my Macbook.
- When I’m away from the office and want to process the tasks on the go, my Outlook cannot connect to the Blackberry Server without VPN. And VPN isn’t also reliable. Sometimes it connects well, othertimes it doesn’t.
- The native Task App in the blackberry although great has limitations. The most irritating one is that I can’t see all tasks that are Overdue on a single page. I have the habit of marking tasks to be due on a certain date. But life happens that I can’t attend to the task on that date. And I’d like to see all tasks that are Overdue together. The tasks app in blackberry doesn’t show that.
2. Sync the Native Tasks Application with Remember the Milk.
- Remember the Milk is one of the most popular online tasks applications out there. And for good reason too. It is indeed an elegant solution to managing your to-dos. Clean interface. Reliable. Very fast. Online hence accessible from virtually anywhere. Anywhere except your blackberry. There is an app to sync the Blackberry Tasks with Remember the Milk. It’s Great, when it works. Which it rarely does. Each time I try to sync I get error message after error message.
3. Other attempts that have crashed.
The other applications that I’ve used to sync my Blackberry tasks with my Mac or any online app are:
- ToDo Matrix. This may work. However I’ve briefly tried this, and for reasons I can’t remember I couldn’t continue using it.
- Blackberry’s official sync software for the Mac. This is the worst of them all. Don’t even think about it.
The Solution: Behold Upvise. Enter the Pearly Gates of Task Management Heaven.
Literally after years of searching I found one stray reference of Upvise in some forum post somewhere. The homepage didn’t look promising (it’s better now), but I gave it a shot anyway and installed the Blackberry app.
Why Upvise Rocks:
1. They Sync is really Tight. Upvise doesn’t try to sync the native Tasks app of Blackberry. That’s where the other developers were going wrong. Instead it installs an app of it’s on in Blackberry, which automatically syncs really well with the web-app.
2. It’s Fast! Not as fast with the native app. Yet I have been using it for a couple of months now and a picky Power User like me is satisfied with it.
3. The developers seem committed. They are constantly upgrading the blackberry app and web app with new features, without making it heavy.
4. Awesome Customer Service. Whenever I have a problem with Blackberry Tasks or Microsoft Outlook sync. Who can I call? Nobody. But with upvise, I shoot them a mail and mostly receive a reply within 24 hours.
5. They’ve got a super-duper iPad App. I no longer have to squint in my blackberry to process my tasks. I can do it from my ipad and in style.
My Upvise wishlist:
As great as Upvise is, here are a couple of things that I wish they’d implement to make it better:
1. Shortucts. The webapp doesn’t have shortucuts to create new tasks, mark them complete etc. Their customer support says that they should be upgrading it with shortcuts in a weeks time.
2. Option to select multiple tasks to process them. This is a killer feature of Remember the Milk. Meaning I can selelct multiple tasks and then either mark them complete, postpone them etc. Hope Upvise implements this soon too.
3. Option to modify the default due date. When creating a new task, the system automatically sets the default due date to the next day. I’d prefer the option to modify that.
4. When creating a new task, a quick box drops down. I’d like the option to select the task list in that drop box. Right now I have to go to the main task edit screen to do that.
Overall I’m very satisfied with Upvise. The free version of Upvise you get some free apps. The tasks app cost $50 per annum. Well worth the price. I would strongly recommend it. Hope more Blackberry and Mac users read this post and give Upvise a try.
Jan 5, 2011
It’s the best Rs.48,000 I have spent. The iPad. What an amazing invention. Telecommunication, the computer and the internet finally come to a full circle in this outstanding device.
I had been debating for months whether to shell-out almost half-a-lakh for this screen. Afterall it was just a big iPod Touch and I just couldn’t use that because of it’s damn keyboard. However I kept observing myself away from my laptop for longer parts of the day and yet felt the need to either check something on the web, clear a couple of my emails and misc tasks such as those. Tasks that my Blackberry couldn’t yet cut it. Thanks to motivation two friends (Rahul and Saira, thanks guys :-), I said what the hell and ordered it off from ebay. And boy, has it worked out for me.
What do I use my iPad for:
1. News and Wikipeida
The iPad wouldn’t be such a great device, if it weren’t for 3G. Thanks to 3G being out in India, I am now online, all the time. A rarely have the time or motivation to read the traditional newspaper. Furthermore when I am at my desk, a plethora of tasks and interruptions jump out at me, that I can’t check out the Top Stories of the day. Thanks to the iPad the little pockets of time I get before, after or even during meetings, I can scan headlines of the BBC and Times of India website and I am done with my critical News reading.
I am a huge Wikipedia fan. I often check out wikipedia articles several times a day. Whenever I come across a term, word, an event, that I want to know more about when reading a book, in the middle of a conversation, while hearing a podcast, even while watching TV, I snap out my ipad and do a lightening wikipedia search and bam I get to know, what I want to know in a matter of minutes. At times it so fast that I’ve even used it from my car in between traffic signals!
2. Processing my Email
Today, the Blackberry is not enough to process one’s email. These days my emails comes with loads of recommendations to visit certain sites or watch Youtube videos. I can’t do those on my blackberry alone. But I can do that on my iPad and in style.
3. Processing my Tasks/To-dos (GTD Style)
Thanks to Upvise, the best web-app I’ve found for managing tasks, I now often use my iPad to process my To-Do lists. More about Upvise in an upcoming post.
Need I say more. I can watch YouTube videos anywhere and everywhere. I now use it to keep my daughter entertained, or just myself entertained. Whenever I am on my Mac and come across a YouTube video I need to watch, I file it under a ToWatch playlist. Then when I’m away from my Mac, but have the time and access to my iPad, I open that playlist and watch that same video then and there.
The iPad is an amazing reading device. I often would choose to read books on my iPad than a physical book. You’ve got to try it to believe it. I can highlight passages, see what passages others have highlighted, search across the book in seconds, the dictionary is just a tap away and best of all I’m always carrying an entire library with me.
Other than books, it’s fantastic for reading RSS Feeds too. Just yesterday Ali discovered Flipboard. A brilliant app for reading one’s Rss Feeds from Google Reader.
6. Other stuff
I am not much of a gamer, but there is a game or two that I really enjoying dabbling in. A couple of days ago I found that the ipad has a prayer compass as well, very useful for me as I’ve often need to know the Qibla (prayer) direction when travelling. Furthermore, I also realised I don’t need to carry my Quran with my at my Weekly Quran Class, just the iPad would do. The uses of the iPad just keep growing.
The iPad or any tablet is a device, that you buy presupposing certain uses for it. But then you start discovering new ways to use it. You begin to ask yourself, “hmm I wonder if it will do this too”. For those of you considering the Samsung Galaxy, I’ve tried that and have found that to be acceptably good too. If you’re set your heart upon the iPad and since it’s not released in India, you can pickup your iPad from Ebay (thank you Rahul for this tip). Make sure you pick the official apple carry case with the iPad, because without it, it’s not practical to carry it around.
If you do decide to buy an iPad, do let me know. If you already have an ipad and have an app to recommend do post it in the comment below.
Sep 27, 2010
Your Memory : How It Works and How to Improve It by Kenneth L. Higbee
Ever since I’ve been getting deeper into practicing GTD, I have seen myself become tad bit forgetful. This is a trend that’s experienced by many serious GTD practioners. Nonetheless the returns of “Relaxed Productivity” that GTD provides is worth the cost of a few grey-cells. Anyhoo, I’m now looking into how I can improve my memory. I read the first chapter of this book yesterday, and it seems to be spot-on. Looking forward to complete it.
View all my reviews
Aug 3, 2010
I would speak, even when I’m not spoken too: I have had various bugs in the past. Once upon a Time it was the Toastmasters and Public Speaking bug. I would use every possible opportunity to speak in public. Toastmasters was a great platform for that. And when I joined Toastmasters, I was infected. I got the Toastmasters-bug. The spirit of the Dubai Toastmasters club was simply outstanding. You couldn’t come out of a meeting feeling excited and all-charged up. Man, I get a high just thinking about it.
But like all bugs, it comes and it goes. After several years of being an active Toastmaster, the magic wasn’t there for me anymore. The meetings were just as good. But something in me changed and I felt that I had to give my time elsewhere.
In the long run
i had been a chubby kid all my life. My trousers just kept getting wider and wider. I hated exercise. I would wonder why would anyone want to put themselves through hours pain and exertion. Yet I loved the image of being lean-mean exercise nut. Finally when I outgrew every possible trouser that I had with me when studying in London. While travelling on a London Tube, I came across this easy-peasy schedule that Nike printed. It said that just follow the schedule and I’ll be able to run 10 Kms by the end of three months. Wow. Me chubby, tubby Arif would be able to run 10 Kms at the end of three months. And all i needed to do was exercise like 3 times a week. I mean like, hey, why not, worth a shot. I hit the pavement the next morning and since then I’ve not looked back. I have run 100′s of Kms. I had got the running bug and it was AWESOME! I registered for races, and completed them. I paid huge bucks (while on my measly articleship salary), and subscribed to Running magazines all the way from UK and US. Would peer through every page statistic. I have run Bangalore roads in the dead of the night, and Dubai’s streets in the afternoon in the peak of summer. I ran so much that I injured my knee. Yet I continued running.
The bug is not as infected as it used to be. I am not consumed by the thought of running. And it’s several years since my subscription to international magazines have expired. Yet the hangover continues. Even today I do an approximate run of 5Kms almost every day. Whenever I travel, I always travel with my running shoes. Here’s a travel-tip, the best way to experience a city, is on runner’s foot at 6:00 Am in the morning when the city is waking up.
The GTD bug
This bug my blog-readers would be familiar with. I was obsessed with GTD. Every moment I was online, would read up about it. In my car I would hear all possible lectures and podcasts on it. And every possible chance I would get I would speak to others about it. I did not even spare the Maulana who accompanied us on Hajj. Even him I tried to convert him into a GTD enthusiast. I was not successful with the maulana, but to some extent I influenced my father, my brother and several of our staff at Vakil Housing. They didn’t much of a choice as I would stand behind them at their work desks and would be spewing the various processes of GTD, pushing them to implement it.
Other Misc bugs:
There was the blogging bug and the Spirituality/Sufi bug, each of which had taken my fancy for a significant time and then moved on.
and now it’s the Sketch Notes bug
We all take notes. We’ve done so from school. My note taking evolved from plain linear notes like this, to mindmaps like this. Yet I was always fascinated by sketch notes. Notes that involve both text and pictures. They look so cool, one wants to revisit them and most of all it’s so much fun just creating such notes. Each note is a work of art. I never knew how to take down such sketch-notes. Till I came across the following online seminars:
Sketch Noting Techniques
That was it. I had that all familiar feeling again. My heart began racing, I was getting feverish, it was like falling in love. Yup, I was catching yet another bug. Now every possible meeting that’s what I do, I sketch-note and it feels awesome. And here are some recent sketch notes that I have taken.
The Moral of the Story is
You know when you’ve got the bug. It’s when every possible moment, that’s what you want to do. The good news is, a bug is a healthy thing. A very VERY healthy thing. It should be encouraged, nurtured, so that it blooms into a Virus, maybe even an epidemic, so that it has the maximum number of people infected.
Whenever I have caught the bug, I have emerged as a stronger, faster or simply a better me. And sure after a while the bug passes on, yet the after-effects linger infact they stick with you for a lifetime. Pay attention when something catches your interest which is beyond a mere fancy. Infact each time you have a bug, it’s a gift from the gods. Go all out. The energy that is generated with a bug, is beyond human strength. It comes from a realm that is beyond our five senses. It permeates into our world and it’s the chosen few that it reaches. Make the most of it. Cause it’ll last only for a short while. Invest every possible resource you have to make the best of that bug. It doesn’t have to be a hobby like the one I listed above. It can be a bug for family, entrepreneurship, and believe it or not, even your job. Thank the gods, load your weapon and go out your guns blazing.
Page 1 of 712345...»Last »