Monthly Archives: October 2008

GTD and Productivity Links – 19th October 2008

I have been at the A4U Expo for the first half of this week and this gave me a well needed break from work to recharge my mind. Listened to some great search engine marketing talks from people like Joost and Mediadonis. Had a really good cruise down the River Thames on the Silver Sturgeon and generally enjoyed myself with old and new friends.

Oh well, back to work and here are the links for this week.

My new theme for this blog has now gone to coding so hopefully I can release it to you all in the next week or so. Looking forward to this as it is a well needed relaunch of the blog. The past few weeks have been very busy and I have a busy end of the month.

Hope you have all enjoyed your weekend.

iBlueSky – Mind Mapping for the iPhone and iPod Touch Review

I recently did a review of MindMaker, the first Mind Mapping tool for the iPhone and iPod Touch. My review outlined a great concept but it was lacking some key features such as the ability to import and export maps and work in landscape mode.

I was very happy when i received an email from the creator of iBlueSky asking me to take a look at their app that provides competition for Mind Maker. I got the app installed and working right as I was leaving the house to attend the A4U Expo in London.

I was planning on writing the review when I got back from the A4U but I did get the chance to try it in the very first session of the A4U Expo. The first session was from Joost de Valik and was about Search Engine Optimization for WordPress.


Rather than take notes for the session in my trusty Moleskine, I decided to give iBlueSky a live test and use it to take the notes in what was an excellent session.

iBlueSky is very similar in operation to Mind Maker, it is after all a Mind Mapping application for the iPhone and iPod Touch. The entry was working out a treat. You are able to use landscape mode and the addition of branches is very straightforward and anybody who has used a Mind Mapping application would be able to pick ip up in no time at all.

There is a default map already installed for you to play around with. The map I created got quite big, quite fast and I found it easy to add new branches, sub branches and also to navigate around the map.


This is in my opinion the best Mind Mapping tool to date for the iPhone and iPod Touch. There were a couple of little niggles which will hopefully get sorted for the next release. These were that the addition of new branches to a busy map sometimes overlapped existing branches. This made organization a bit cumbersome.

The branches were also quite difficult to move as it required an extremely accurate drag to move the branch and not the entire map. Some way of selecting a branch in drag mode would be great. The only other niggle is that when moving a branch, the sub-branches stayed put, creating a nesting overlapping issue.

All of the issues do not distract from what is a great app. Landscape mode works great, although the screen is restricted by the bars at the top and bottom.


The killer feature that really separates this from Mind Maker is the ability to email the maps. Once the Map was created, I emailed it to myself.

The map arrives in four formats:

  • PNG Image
  • PDF Document
  • OPML For Importing into various mapping and flowchat apps
  • Freemind MM Format for use with Freemind, the Open Source Mind Mapping app

How cool is that!

Great app, and look forward to seeing more of these cool apps arise for the iPhone and iPod Touch.

Oh, and for those of you interested in the session from Joost, which was fantastic as usual. Feel free to download the map by following the links below.

They even have a nice intro video.

Hope you found this of use, as usual, I would love to hear yout comments..

GTD and Productivity Links – 12th October 2008

Well, this is the only blog post I have managed this week but there is a good reason. For the past four weeks I have been writing a new ebook for Cisco Press entitled Securing Networks with ASAs Fundementals.

My deadline for the ebook was today, 12th October. I had a slightly delayed start to the project as I needed to free up one of my ASAs so that I could work through the configuration and make screenshots etc. So, for the past week I have been working on the ebook in every spare minute I have had. I have had around 5 hours sleep per evening and really put in the hours. Turning out 20,000 words and 82 figures for the ebook which Cisco Press will launch in a month or so.

Being so busy and so focussed has given me some ideas for some more posts, which I will hopefully get done this week as I am away for the next few days at the A4UExpo in London.

Oh, I also eventually got a 30″ monitor this week. Wow, how much better is working with so much screen real estate!

Here are my links for this week, although I have not has nowhere nearly as much browsing time as usual!

  • My first link for this week is has to be AwayFind from Set Consulting. AwayFind is a great new web application aimed to help you adopt an email practice where you check it twice a day but still get notified of urgent messages by other means, such as a text message to your cellphone. I have started using this and I love it as it fits in with my email productivity series perfectly. There will be more to come on this in the coming days. AwayFind is currently in private beta but be sure to check it out.
  • My second link is a great interview with fellow productivity blogger, Steve Pavlina. The interview is from the ZenHabits website. Great interview and I admire Steve for what he has achieved.
  • My third link is a link to a students GTD#1 – Collect. I always enjoy picking up on these lesser known blogs where real people are learning and writing about GTD. I like this purity of this one.
  • My fourth link is another great post from John Kendrick titled the five Ws of a weekly GTD review. John keep coming out with these great posts about how is he implementing GTD.
  • My fifth and last link for this week is How to Use Parkinson’s Law to your Advantage. Parkinson’s law states that work expands to fill the time available for its completion. Check out this post and see how to use this to your own advantage.

So, off to London tomorrow for three days and the A4UExpo. Should be a great conference as the line up of speakers looks amazing and it is always good to meet fellow bloggers and affiliates to share knowledge, and of course a beer or two!

Have a great week, I am sure I will!

GTD and Productivity Links – 5th October 2008

Another busy week, mainly due to the fact that I had a news story published by the BBC in the UK and it got a lot of coverage. Sometimes things happen that change your planned work week and this week definitely was one of those weeks.

Here are my cool links of the week for all things GTD and Productivity related.

  • My first link for this week is a great post from upcoming GTD Blogger John Kendrick. The post is titled Journaling your way to GTD and is well worth the time investment.
  • My second link is a guest post by Leo from on the Four Hour Work Week blog. The post is titled How to Never Forget Anything Again and it is a great post that goes through some of the great tools that are available for running our busy lives.
  • My third link is a great post about Ubiquitous Capture from Freelance Switch. This is a great blog with some fab guest bloggers who write about a whole host of topics aimed at the freelance worker.
  • My fourth link is a collection of GTD Wallpapers from Smart Productivity. These are aggregated from other sites but brought together in a neat post. Gives me some ideas for my new rebrand which is coming soon..
  • My fifth and last link for this week is an old classic, but one that I just re-read recently. This is the getting started in GTD post from Merlin Mann at This is flagship content from Merlin Mann and a great post for anybody looking to get started with GTD.

I have a crazy week ahead as I have a book deadline for Sunday the 12th so I am going to be busy evenings this week writing away. I also have a new brand coming for this blog. All exciting stuff and I cannot wait to get it out there.

Have a great week.

Ziglar on Setting Goals – Zig Ziglar

Just thought I would post these great videos from Zig Ziglar. Zig is one of my all time greats when it comes to motivational speakers. His mix of humor and great beliefs make him a pleasure to listen to an learn from.

Enjoy the videos and I would love to hear your comments on them.

Setting Goals 1 of 3

Setting Goals 2 of 3

Setting Goals 3 of 3

Be sure to also check out my other GTD and Self Development Videos.

GTDAgenda – Review of the GTDAgenda GTD and Productivity Application

This is the second in my review series of GTD Apps. This time we are reviewing GTDAgenda.

GTDAgenda is a Web Based application based around the GTD philosophy. One downfall is the fact that you need an Internet connection in order to use this system so you cannot easily take it with you.
GTD Agenda is a website designed to assist individuals in increasing their productivity through David Allen’s Getting Things Done model. It does an admirable job of shaping the foundation of his advice into a practical, easy-to-use system that could easily change people’s lives through regular use.

The site’s aesthetic are plain but well conceived and goes a great length toward marrying functionality with a myriad of useful features. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the design is found after playing around with categorization tools and discovering exactly how deep the system actually is.

Seemingly nothing has been overlooked by the GTDAgenda team but the entire page never comes off as overly complicated or confusing. GTDAgenda instead chooses to let users dive into the various functions at whichever level they desire. It’s perfectly possible to use the page as nothing more than an electronic calendar, checklist or broad planning tool but for those who look deeper there is also a ton of great details to take advantage of as well.
GTD Agenda
The layout of GTDAgenda is in itself worth taking the time to discuss. The simple design and ease of use mix together very well. Although the page is relatively plain looking, there is nothing so offensive as to keep users from wanting to use GTDAgenda as a frequently viewed hub for their planning activities. Much like the Word document ‘to-do’ lists which Allen displays in Getting Things Done, GTDAgenda allows for an immediate response from users simply through its simple, upfront look.

All of the features are designed with Allen’s GTD model firmly in mind and go a long way toward allowing the site’s users to fully embrace the productivity system. GTDAgenda hosts a header which lists key organizational points (such as Goals, Projects, Tasks and Next Actions) along with appropriate sorting options within each one of these categories. For example, clicking on ‘Tasks’ displays a sub-category wherein users may prioritize their work to fit different criteria.
GTD Agenda
Each header keeps a few features the same so they may be referenced no matter what you’re concentrating on at the time. A handy calendar hangs on the right-hand side of the page and opens scheduled tasks and action steps by clicking on a given date.

The context menu is also an excellent implementation of core GTD philosophy as it allows users to sort their various work into categories such as @Computer, @Home and Errands. A checklist feature goes even further toward allowing for the kind of satisfaction Allen recommends from crossing off completed work and visualizing what must still be done so it can be taken off one’s mind.

GTDAgenda is difficult to criticize as it does perform a fantastic job of offering a productivity system styled upon the core principles and tools purported by the book. Nothing at all presents itself as ineffective or worth taking the time to negatively address in a review. The bottom line perhaps is that, like every organization tool, GTDAgenda will work for some and not for others.

Anyone even remotely interested in the GTD productivity model should at least check out GTDAgenda. The site and application does a great job of providing a system that allows for as little or as much customization and organization as any user could hope for.

Please note, the links to GTDAgenda are affiliate links so anybody signing up will result in myself getting paid a referral feed. This has not tarnished or influenced my review of GTDAgenda.

Email Productivity Experiment – Update 3

This is the fourth post in my mini series about email productivity. For those of you who missed the first three I have provided links to them below.

Email Productivity Experiment
Email Productivity Experiment – Update 1
Email Productivity Experiment – Update 2

After the last installment of this series, I had changed my email collection timer from the default 5 minutes to one hour. I had seen quite an increase in productivity as I was working on emails in batch rather than what seemed to be every five minutes.

I decided that the next step was to check my email four times during the working day. These times were to be at 0900, 1200, 1500, and 1700.

There is no automated way to do this within, the default mail client on the Mac and the one that I use so I had to turn off the automatic mail collection setting and set this to manual. So, from now, I received email when I manually clicked on the Get Mail button within

For the first few days this was going great. I informed the people directly involved with me that I was only checking email at these times and if something was urgent, then they needed to tell me in another way.

It generally worked out very well. Just like with the one hour gaps, the time between email on a three hour gap soon came around and I was amazed at how fast time was going in between email. It was nice and actually felt quite liberating to be free of the feeling that you have to check email.

All this was very well and good until I stumbled across a little item that resulted in me working very closely with the BBC and other journalists for just over a week on what became quite a well covered news story, even making the front page of Digg!

Because of this, I found most of my good work go straight out of the window as I had to check my mail frequently as I had to answer time sensitive questions. So, I found myself checking mail very frequently to ensure that I had not missed anything from any of the people I was working on the story with.

This has identified to me that strict email systems like these have to give sometimes, unless that is I can find a way around this. Some way of being able to filter the mail before I get it to my mailbox so that if I am working on something like this in the future I will be able to selectively receive mail. I could use a second address but that is not really an elegant solution so off I go looking for a way to achieve this.

Just out of interest, the story I did was posted here on the BBC website and was covered on many other technology and security news sites. The hits to our company website at RandomStorm sure did increase as you can imagine!

The report went live on Monday and it has been a very busy week. I am back to checking email once an hour and aim to go back to the four times in a working day from next Monday.

This has been a great lesson to me about flexibility in systems and the fact that sometimes the system has to give. It was in my interests for it to give as it was a priority for me to ensure I gave a speedy response to questions asked.

I am looking forward now to improving this.