Monthly Archives: January 2009

Ubiquitous Capture Device, What is Yours?

Those of you who are followers of the Getting Things Done methodology will full understand the importance of the instant collection of your tasks. David Allen, author of the GTD system talks about the Ubiquitous Capture Device, meaning a device that is with you at all times enabling you to use it to capture your thoughts.

I have been doing some thinking recently about the capture devices I use as part of my collecting strategy. I have been practicing GTD for around two years now and I always say that the biggest change and benefit brought to me is the ability to capture items as they enter my head so that I can collect these in my inbox and process them at a later date.


Another GTD term is Open Loops and I have written many posts that cover Open Loops. Just as a refresher, an Open Loop is a task that is not recorded. Each time you think, gosh I must do this, and gosh I must do that and do nothing about it, it creates a little Open Loop in your mind that takes up valuable processing power and causes stress. The empowerment of capturing your thoughts, as you have them is the biggest benefit that I have got out of GTD.

During the past few days I have been thinking about the various types of capture devices that I have used over the past two years and which have worked and which have failed.

There are two main categories of capture devices, the high tech and the low tech. By high tech I mean items such as iPhones, Blackberries, Laptops, and PDAs. Preferably running some task or GTD based software application. The low tech options include a good old pen and paper. The paper can form a notebook, stickies, journal, or daily planner. It really doesn’t matter as long as you can record your thoughts.

When I originally started implementing GTD I, like many others, rushed out and bought a collection of Moleskine’s. This is the techie in me who loves to go out and buy hardware, even when the hardware is a nice notebook. Moleskine’s are in my opinion the nicest notebooks that good money can buy. The quality of the finish and paper is second to none.

I bought the large notebook, small notebook and also some of the small Moleskine Cahier notebooks. I use my large and small notebook for day to day use and meetings. I teamed up the Cahiers with a throw away golf pencil and this made it into my back pocket as my Ubiquitous Capture Device.

This worked to a degree. As the Cahier notebook was an extra, it had to be remembered. It was not fully integrated into my life and there were times when I forgot it, leaving me without my trusty notebook to record tasks. I then ended up with around 6 dog eared Cahier notebooks “hanging around” and not really being productive.

Then, the iPhone and OmniFocus for the iPhone came along. I started to use this as my capture device. My phone is always with me so it ticked the Ubiquitous requirement of the Ubiquitous Capture Device. The problem is that it takes a minimum of 10 seconds to get the phone turned on, OmniFocus load, and be in a position to add the task. Doesn’t sound like a lot but when you have an idea or task in your head that needs recording it sure does feel like a long time.

There are two items that are ubiquitous to me. My phone and my wallet. These pretty much go with me wherever I go. I feel the most important part of selecting a Ubiquitous Capture Device is to get one works and you WILL carry it wherever you go.

David Allen uses a low tech Ubiquitous Capture Device. He uses a wallet that has a built in notebook with tear off pages and an expandable Rotring pen. This works for David Allen and I am sure it would work for us all. I have a really nice wallet that my wife bought me a few years ago and I am not replacing it yet but when I do, this is something I will look into.

OmniFocus Iphone

In summary, my current tool of choice is OmniFocus as my Ubiquitous Capture Device on my iPhone. My phone is always with me so it fits the bill. The benefits of the high tech device is the ability to sync with my desktop OmniFocus so I never lose data but their is a speed trade off. Low tech capturing is much faster but you have to carry it, and also if you lose it, well you have lost it.

I would love to hear from all you about your Ubiquitous Capture Device. Are you low tech or high tech? Do you have any cool tips to share with us all about finding the ultimate Ubiquitous Capture Device?

Zenbe Free Email Review

I reviewed Zenbe Lists for the iPhone in a previous post so I thought I would take a look at the full blown Zenbe web based application.

Zenbe is a fantastic web based email application designed to cater toward Getting Things Done enthusiasts and those interested in productivity applications alike. It simultaneously mixes in-depth GTD organizational tenants with simple, easy-to-use e-mail grouping and daily work programming so that almost any audience is able to get as little or as much out of the app as they please.

The aesthetics of the program are fantastic, being beautifully designed while maintaining the functionality necessary for making the application something worth using as a time-saving device.

Every tool, window and icon is given a fresh, colorful look while simultaneously avoiding the very possible pitfalls of flashiness or cluttering. In its goal as an e-mail unification tool Zenbe also succeeds by outclassing any of the major sites in terms of look and usage.


Not only is there excellent functionality here but the look of Zenbe itself is also much more polished and pleasant to work from than the big players like Gmail or Hotmail.

Although this may boil down to a matter of personal taste it should definitely be noted that the designers have done an outstanding job of mixing impressive visuals with an ultimately simplistic, usable design.

Zenbe is packed with features that are sure to draw in a lot of potential devotees. The best overall idea is probably represented in the “Overview” mode which very easily ties every option into one single screen where the most heavily used tools are all displayed.

The easy navigation couples with other functions such as the aforementioned e-mail linking option (for Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, AOL and more) which allows for the removal of multiple inbox checking headaches.

E-mail itself is also much easier to sort and inboxes are easier to handle through Zenbe.


The program allows for file attachment browsing, viewing and organizing in a superior fashion than any competing e-mail service too, opting to let users deal with items away from the context of their original message.

Project sharing is easy to use through Zenbe as well and allows for collaboration on tasks, email, files, lists and calendars.

The best part of this system is probably found in the fact that Zenbe doesn’t require collaborators to even have accounts with their program making it so that sharing is truly accessible for anyone involved with a users work.

A comprehensive blog goes a long way toward keeping users up to date with all updates and news regarding Zenbe and this is a touch which should help fans to maintain faith in the program and its designers.

A forum is also hosted on the main page and lets new users and seasoned Zenbe users alike form a great community for discussing the program. Help and job posting sections are also listed to top off the solid interaction offerings.

There aren’t too many downfalls worth noting with Zenbe considering how many facets of a productivity application the developers have done right and no major complaints can be levied against the service with its alternative e-mail and e-mail grouping functions either.

For users interested in trying out a new productivity application Zenbe is one of the best choices currently available. From superb visual design through to comprehensive features and a great support community, Zenbe is certainly worth a look.

I would love to hear of your experiences with Zenbe.

Productivity, Motivation, and Personal Development Links – 11th January 2009

I have been away from home for most of this week in Basingstoke but I am glad to be back and back to a good Internet connection. I have a deadline for the 15th this week for my next Cisco Press eBook so the next few days will be busy but I am ahead of schedule so will be more than fine for time.

Here are my collection of links for this week.

  • My first link for this week is a link to a great review of the new David Allen Book, Making it All Work from the Simple Dollar. I am reading this book at the minute. I must admit I am not as far in as I would have liked but I have a writing deadline for the 15th Jan so that has been taking a lot of my time. This is a great review of the whole book, the best review I have seen yet.
  • My second link is a link to the 15-Minute Solution for Getting Organized. This is a new blog that I have discovered and this is a great post on how to use 15 minutes to get organized. It is amazing what you can do with 5, never mind 15 minutes!
  • My third link is a link to the 25-50-25 rule to Getting Things Done. This is from the Abundance Blog and it correlates the 25-50-25 rule to the GTD methodology. Well worth the time investment.
  • My fourth link is a link a video interview with Leo Babuta from Zen Habits. I will probably post these videos as a separate post to my blog.
  • My fifth and last link for this week is a link to an article titled You Can Do Anything but Not Everything from the Indian Dinosaur blog. This is a great, and lengthy post about a persons view on productivity and GTD at general. Great read.

Going to hit the gym now and then settle down. Hopefully get some more Making it All Work read as my reading has suffered over the past few weeks due to my eBook deadline.

The Hit List – New Mac GTD App Goes Public

I first saw the Hit List via a blog post over at The Unofficial Apple Weblog back in December 08.

Well, the application is now at public beta and you can download it to have a play with it.

Hit List

The Hit List has come from the Potion Factory, the people behind applications such as Voice Candy and Tangerine.

I would compare The Hit List more to Things than OmniFocus. It looks great, is clean and simple with a great polish. OmniFocus has features coming out of its ears and great integration options.

I have downloaded and installed The Hit List. I am also about to embark on a good look at Things 1.0 so I will report back with a review of both the apps.

Competition is always good and OmniFocus and Things do have a real competitor here with The Hit List. An iPhone companion application is a must so watch this space as I would love to be able to see The Hit List on the iPhone as well.

Take a look and I would love to hear any comments.

MacHeist Helps you Get Things Done

If you are an Apple user you need to be heading over to the latest MacHeist and signing up, or logging in if you already signed up for a previous year.

Just for signing up you get a $39 GTD related application called Process from Jumsoft.

Process free at MacHeist

Pretty much a no-brainer. I have just installed Process and look forward to playing with it although it may not make it to my list of used apps as I already have a pretty good outliner already.

As easy on the eyes as it is to use, Process 3 gives you the freedom you need to be creative and the flexible framework you need to get things done—all from one versatile window. Brainstorm. Organize. Schedule. Plan. Coordinate. Collaborate.

The Process 3 all-in-one-window interface was kept clean, simple and intuitive to maximize speed, convenience and flexibility. Beneath the utilitarian toolbar you find five distinct but functionally-interlocked panes that give you full control over all your projects and all the elements needed to accomplish each phase.

So, what is MacHeist?

MacHeist’s missions are an opportunity for our members to live out some of those secret agent fantasies, including mission briefings, simulated web espionage, and a storyline packed with tech-mystery intrigue, while earning free Mac software.

Over 100,000 MacHeist members have experienced the Mac themed, puzzle filled missions, receiving millions of dollars worth of free Mac software so far.

I look forward to the next apps that are going to be given away as part of the latest MacHeist.

Jott Speech-to-Text iPhone App Review

Jott for the Apple iPhone is so simple and effective that it should have come as a built-in feature rather than a downloadable app. The program allows users to take notes through the simplest method possible: talking to their phone.

Perhaps the best feature of Jott is the obvious attention paid toward using the tool as an organizational program rather than just an advanced memo pad.

Users can record and store their voice notes (either in the original audio or as text; the format conversion which makes the app so appealing) and then sort them into to-do lists.

Once a task has been finished the iPhone’ss touch-screen makes crossing off the work as simple as making a quick horizontal line with your finger.

Those who adhere to GTD will no doubt find Jott an invaluable tool for their arsenal as it allows for easy creation of notes which can then be exported to your desktop (or laptop) for sorting into any other organizational software app used to sort out to-do actions.

The application is free but does require a subscription to the Jott service in order to use making it into something of a double-edged positive.

Sign-up is quick and Jott has a strict privacy protection statement in effect so users needn’t worry about much of anything.

Considering the lack of financial investment and the program’s potential for becoming an essential productivity tool, Jott is well worth looking into.

Productivity, Motivation, and Personal Development Links – 4th January 2009

Christmas is all over with, the decorations came down today and here we are at the first weekly post of the New Year. I hope you all had a great time and I hope you are all ready for the year ahead.

I am sat in a hotel in Basingstoke, UK with only a 2G connection as the hotel has no WiFi. One day all hotels in the UK will have WiFi as standard without charging us £15 for a days usage and ripping us off. Anyway, rant over.

Here are my collection of links for this week.

  • My first link for this week is a link to 7 Reasons Why I Love OmniFocus, a great post from, a new blog for me. I am still loving OmniFocus but I must admit that I am tempted to try out Things this week when it is launched fully if not just to reaffirm why I love OmniFocus.
  • My second link is a link to a Things, the main rival of OmniFocus and the polished Apple Mac GTD App which finally goes live at MacWorld on the 6th Jan. I am going to install this and give it a real run for its money and follow it up with a subjective review. I cannot see my swapping from OmniFocus but who knows..
  • My third link is a link to GTD-IQ. This is something that is mentioned in the first chapter of the new David Allen book, Making it All Work. GTD-IQ is a a website with a set of simple questions to test your GTD-IQ. Worth a look at to see where you are with your GTD-IQ
  • My fourth link is a link an article outlining the 11 qualities of a successful manager. This is a blog post from Ajay Matharu. I am sometimes appalled by the management skills found in some large organizations. If you are a manager, see how many of these qualities you think you portray in your style of management.
  • My fifth and last link for this week is a link to a GTD Summary from the 20something finance blog. Again, another good read and great to see people getting real benefit out of Getting Things Done. I like how the author has broken the book down into simple sections. I have always been meaning to do something similar and this has sparked an idea so watch this space.

Ordering a sandwich and then calling it a night. You would not believe how slow my Internet connection is, hoping it is better tomorrow. Let’s hope I have enough juice to publish this post…

Amazon’s Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions are getting into the spirit of the New Year and they have launched a promotion to cover the Top Ten New Year’s Resolutions.
Amazon New Year Resolutions
They are taking a poll as to what the top New Year’s Resolution is as well as providing a forum for people to discuss their resolutions. Of course, for every resolution topic there are links to some discounted products on as well, so that can cash in on their advice although I do like Amazon and have no issue spending money with them.

According to, the current Top Ten New Year’s Resolutions are:

  • Lose Weight
  • Get Your Finances in Order
  • Go Greener
  • Curb Your Vices
  • Get in Shape
  • Relax More
  • Pursue a New Career
  • Upgrade Your Technology
  • Organize and Optimize
  • Start a New Hobby

No real surprises there on that list. If you are setting one of these goals then check the micro site out over at as they do have some good deals on products related to your goal.

My affiliate links are on the links to Amazon so you will be making me money also with your purchases, just thought I would disclose this 🙂

David Allen Interviewed by Robert Scoble

Just thought I would share this great interview with David Allen, author of Getting Things Done (GTD) with Robert Scoble on

The interview is 30 minutes long and David Allen goes through the basics of GTD and how David came to create the GTD system.

This is a great video from two great thought leaders of our time, not to be missed!

What is your Best iPhone Productivity App for 2008?

The 2008 Best App Ever awards started yesterday and run through to the 6th of January.

Starting December 31st, 2008 we’ll take the 5 top nominations in each category and add 5 nominations from our list of iPhone bloggers, developers, and general web-celebrities for each category to come up with 10 nominated apps for each category. In addition, the 10 apps that get the most votes across all categories will compete for the title of Best App Ever. Please come back and vote for your favorite app in each category.

You have the chance to vote for your best ever iPhone apps of 2008. There is a category for the best ever Productivity Enhancer Application for 2008. The choices are:

  • Things
  • reQall
  • eWallet
  • OmniFocus
  • Grocery iQ
  • Evernote
  • Remember The Milk
  • Todo
  • LDA People
  • Smart Dialler

I have voted already, and those who read this blog will know the iPhone app that I chose, although there was a close second place as well.

Also, check out the category of Best Productivity Killer and see how many of these you have installed on your iPhone 🙂 I have one of these installed, the Facebook app.

What was your favorite iPhone productivity app of 2008?