Tagged: productivity

Nathan campus Red Zone

8 productivity lessons from the Red Zone project

Projects are a field of opportunity for learning. They offer scope for experimentation that’s difficult to incorporate into the business-as-usual world. Capturing project lessons lets you refine and promulgate techniques that worked well and identify things to do differently next time. All worthwhile project management methodologies include a process for recording learnings. It’s also one of the most frequently bypassed processes. A backlog of new initiatives means project managers are whisked off to their next assignment well before the first project wraps up. The Star Wars movies illustrate what happens when you don’t learn from past experience1. To close the...

Using GTD contexts to navigate the creative process

4 GTD contexts to navigate the creative process

As I wrote about applying Ben Elijah’s model to replace my @computer GTD context, I noticed an interesting pattern. Creative1 projects follow a predictable trajectory through the four creativity-related contexts. It’s not always a perfect mapping — simple projects may skip stages. In general, projects unfold in a consistent way. It doesn’t seem to matter what kind of work it is either. Creating a blog post, a diagram, a cost model, developing a software application, and building a guitar amplifier all follow a similar path. 1. Open:Shallow Projects of any reasonable size begin in the open:shallow quadrant. The point of this phase is...

Mind map (photo credit: Pietro Zanarini via flickr cc)

How to plan better with mind maps

“Mind maps — what a load of New Age nonsense.” That was my harsh (and incorrect) assessment the first time I encountered mind mapping. I was an outline guy and didn’t see any reason to change. The technique appeared on my radar often enough for me to accept that there might be something to it. Mind maps have since become an essential tool for planning projects and organizing my ideas. Mind maps start with a central idea. Sub-points and associations radiate from this main point. They are a more visual way of organising information and may employ color, imagery and spatial relationships. Mind mapping...

Find In OmniFocus Revisited

REVISITED: Quickly search everything in OmniFocus with one shortcut key

I’m clearly not the only one who has moments when I’m not sure where (or if) I stashed a task in OmniFocus. The original post generated more interest than I expected. It didn’t seem right that such a handy function should only be available to OmniFocus Pro users. OmniFocus Standard edition users can now join the party too. Edi’s comment on Kourosh Dini’s Using OmniFocus site steered me toward another way of solving the problem. This new approach doesn’t use a custom perspective, so it works in the OmniFocus Standard edition. I started using the custom perspective long before discovering...

Find in OmniFocus

Quickly search everything in OmniFocus with one shortcut key

Without a tool like OmniFocus, staying on top of my responsibilities would be tough. With hundreds of items active at any time, sometimes things get misplaced. “Haven’t I already created that project? What was I waiting on from David? What else do I need to discuss with him? Who did I lend that Pink Floyd CD to?” Questions like these dictate a comprehensive search before I can answer them. If I’m not exactly sure where I’ve filed a task, I search all remaining tasks instead of rummaging through multiple projects or contexts. This happens several times each day. The manual...

The Context Quandary: 6 ways to make @computer useful again

The context quandary: 6 ways to make @computer useful again

Contexts made perfect sense as I read Getting Things Done, but the experience didn’t live up to my expectations. For edge cases like @errands1 and @agendas, they were wonderful. For the bulk of my tasks, contexts added little value. That’s because the situations where I don’t have access to a computer and the internet are as rare as rocking-horse poo. With more than 80% of my tasks landing in the @computer context, it was next to useless as a filter. I experimented with various approaches to making the @computer context as effective as @errands. Let’s do a quick recap on...

photo credit: yomo 13 via flickr cc

Are you absolutely sure you’ve processed all your inboxes?

New systems can be wonderful for helping to manage our complex lives. But they can bring yet another channel for potentially relevant and meaningful input. The more inboxes you need to process, the more likely you’ll overlook one of them. The impact can range from inconsequential to disastrous depending on what you missed. David Allen has often said, “you can only feel good about what you’re not doing when you know what it is”. You can’t get a complete picture of your options if there is stuff1 lurking in an inbox that you’ve forgotten to process. Fortunately, this is easy...

Spark icon

Spark: the innovative way to fly through your email

You’ve just finished a brutal day of back-to-back meetings, only to find a burgeoning inbox that you’ll need a machete to hack through. That was an all-too-common scenario for me. Mailbox was my preferred tool for thinning out the backlog. But Mailbox is no more. It’s the latest in a growing list of popular but ultimately unprofitable applications to be killed off by their creators. Since the February 26 shutdown was announced I’ve test-driven various iOS mail clients in the search for a suitable replacement. What I liked about Mailbox: swipes and snoozes Mailbox may not have been the first...

Archery targets

6 simple steps to setting successful targets

Targets help focus attention towards the outcomes that matter most. I’ve written this post from an organizational perspective, but you can also apply these ideas to personal goals. Clear, measurable targets are a valuable tool for improving individual and organizational performance. Nebulous, fuzzy targets cause unnecessary work and stress. Reducing ambiguity takes some extra work, but will produce more meaningful and effective results in the long run. Well-constructed targets have the following six elements: 1. The Axes If you draw your target as a graph, the horizontal axis represents time, and the vertical axis describes the measurement unit for your...

Missing spanner

Don’t make this mistake when you loan things to others

Have you ever loaned an item to someone and felt certain you’d remember it? I’ve done it many times. Then my attention turns elsewhere and that’s the last I think of it until one of two things happens: The person returns the item and I think “oh, that’s right, I’d forgotten I’d loaned you that”; or I need to use the item again. As I turn the house upside-down looking for it, I have a vague recollection of having loaned it to… somebody. The solution Eventually I learned that unless I wrote down who I’d loaned things to, there was...