Monthly Archives: June 2009

Productivity, Motivation, and Personal Development Links – 28th June 2009

I am writing this post on Friday evening as I will be on holiday in Northumberland when you read this post having a well deserved break with my family. Northumberland is a great place in the UK that we visit every year. Great beaches and great castles, my children love it!

This week I totally cleared my home office out and had it decorated. The new carpet was fitted today so now I am through to the exciting part, which is buying all the new furniture for my office.

I already have my eye on a nice chair and desk from Ikea and I cannot wait to get back into my office.

Here are my collection of links for this week.

  • My first link for this week is a great post from the Geek Girls Guide titled Hacking Mail and iCal for GTD. I came across this blog via Twitter when I started to look at some other people who post with the #GTD hashtag. Twitter is an awesome resource for finding information relevant to your interests. Great post if you use a Mac and and iCal as I do!
  • My second link is a link to an audio interview with Kelly Forrester and David Allen talking about the benefits of Twitter. Generally a positive review from David Allen about Twitter and interesting to hear David’s view on Twitter. You can follow David Allen on Twitter @gtdguy and also be sure to follow me @masontech.
  • My third link is a link to a good post from the PC Authority website with a long title,
    Is email wasting your day? The two-minute rule for Outlook, and other tips to feel like you’ve achieved something each day. Good article that is based on the GTD principle of the 2 minute rule. Worth reading.
  • My fourth link is a link to a post from the Simplicity is Bliss blog titled The Digital Tickler File Problem. Now, I have never implemented a Tickler File due to the fact that my workflow does not involve a great deal of paperwork or date sensitive work so I have had no need for one. However, this looks at the ways you can implement a Digitial Tickler System and the author even makes some application recommendations to help you achieve this. It is Apple Mac based so apologies to my Windows readers!
  • My fifth and last link is a link to another Mac tip so I apologize for the heavy Mac influence in my links this week. The link is to a great tip about Making the most of Mac Command-Tab. I mainly use Expose to switch between open Apps but reading this I may try to start using Command-Tab to keep my hands on the keyboard. One of the reasons I get on with the Mac so much is the never ending supply of shortcuts that can just make you work smarter!.

Well, I am going to finish packing for my trip and I hope you have all had a great weekend and I will be back next week!

GTD-Free Getting Things Done Application Review

GTD-Free is a desktop productivity application based on David Allen’s wildly successful philosophy as described in his “Getting Things Done” book.

GTD Free

It joins the ranks of many other, similarly styled applications set on helping others to get the most out of their days while reducing the stress of organizing work.

GTD-Free is, appropriately enough, a no-charge download which seeks to introduce new users into the popular organizational model through a simple, no-frills program.

The aesthetic approach taken at GTD-Free is extremely basic and rather bland, especially in comparison to some of the other GTD modeled programs currently available for free download.

Instead of focusing much on appearance, GTD-Free is more concerned about creating an extremely utilitarian experience meant to help get new user’s feet wet in the program. While the graphic approach of GTD-Free isn’t likely to win anyone over by itself, it should still be pointed out that the application is all very simple to navigate and learn which is a positive point.

Luckily the fairly unimpressive visuals shouldn’t take away from the rest of the experience as it quickly becomes obvious that the developers of GTD-Free have taken great pains to create an excellent list of fundamental tools and features.

All of the main GTD tenants have been covered in the program and they are done in such a way as to ensure that new users won’t feel alienated by any unfamiliar terms or types of sorting exclusive to the productivity philosophy. Categories are all established for next actions, maybe/someday actions, larger projects, priority listings and reminder dates.

One of the best features is the ability to attach reference material (such as text documents, photo files and more) to appropriate work listings. Aside from this (and the solid inclusion of essential GTD aspects) however there isn’t too much that stands out as highly innovative in the feature offering.

GTD-Free can run on pretty much any computer operating system from Windows, Mac to Linux and requires only Java 1.6 to use. Although there is no direct cell phone support the provided manual does provide a guide toward installing GTD-Free on applicable mobile devices.

The main site itself makes it clear that GTD-Free is only in its early stages of development so it’s quite possible that greater portable access will be added with further updates and user demand.

GTD Free

The manuals provided at the freeware’s website should help new users to quickly become acclimatized to the program although a forum would have been a welcome support addition while building something of a community in the process.

As mentioned before, GTD-Free is one of the easiest programs of its type for unfamiliar users to get into however and this does go a long way toward ensuring that those just jumping into it have an easy enough time figuring out their way around.

For users who want to try out a Getting Things Done styled application without worrying about cost, GTD-Free is a solid first program to download and take for a spin. The homepage statement regarding its current beta status and the implication of future updates makes it into a promising program to keep an eye on.

There are definitely better options around for consideration but for those who want to try out the GTD productivity model without investing a lot of time or money, GTD-Free is certainly worth a shot.

You can visit the GTD-Free homepage on by following this link.

As always, I would love to hear any of your comments about GTD-Free or any other GTD Application.

Productivity, Motivation, and Personal Development Links – 21st June 2009

Today has been Fathers Day here in the UK and I have had a great day with my family. I awoke to my favorite breakfast, Smoked Haddock and Poached Eggs and the day has been great ever since.

I have had another busy week that I cannot believe is over already. This week I visited Wokingham in the UK to perform an onsite test for a client. This is the last test I have for a good few weeks as I have a lot of work to do in the office now to catch up.

Here are my collection of links for this week.

  • My first link for this week is a great blog post from the Happy Topics Blog about How to Learn a Little Every Day. I know that I always try to learn something new every day and the amount of information at our fingertips makes this more realistic than ever!
  • My second link is a link to a post titled The Art of Single tasking. This post looks at the common usage of multi tasking and how single tasking is a better process for productivity.
  • My third link is a link to a great post titled 10 Steps for Turning Gmail into a Productivity Center. I have posted quite a few links for GMail productivity and although I do not use it myself I know these are always well received.
  • My fourth link is a link to a post about How much does GTD cost?. Cost is always an issue and maybe more in today’s economic climate. This post looks at the cost of implementing GTD on a budget. For me this posts misses one key point and that is the money you save from being more productive. That should be more than even the most elaborate GTD implementation!
  • My fifth and last link is a link to Stripped GTD: 3 Habits That Make You More Productive. This posts provides a quick no-nonsense overview of three quick tips for improving your productivity.

Wishing you all a great and productive week!

iPhone 3.0 Update Improves GTD Productivity Applications

The much publicized Apple iPhone 3.0 update was released around 1000 PDT yesterday.

I started my update as soon as I could and installed the latest version of the iPhone OS eagerly waiting to test out some of the new features. All very well and good.

Today, my two killer iPhone Apps, OmniFocus and Evernote both got upgraded to take advantage of the iPhone 3.0 features.


OmniFocus version 1.5 for the iPhone has been released.

The main feature in this upgrade include integration of cut, copy, and paste features as well as utilizing the integrated maps.

OmniFocus iPhone

The full blog post for this latest version can be found at the OmniGroup Blog. The OmniFocus for iPhone product page is also worth checking out.


Evernote version 3.0 for the iPhone brings some great new features all that are outlined at this Evernote Blog Post.

These improvements include better synchronization, no “Pending” Tab, Instant Groups, Advanced Searching, Way Better Audio, Landscape View and many bug fixes.

The great guys over at Evernote have made a nice little video of the latest features of 3.0.

This is a great time to own an iPhone if you are into productivity!

Thoughts, as usual are welcomed..

Productivity, Motivation, and Personal Development Links – 14th June 2009

I am writing this post on Saturday as I am taking my wife away tomorrow for our wedding anniversary which is on Monday the 15th of June. We are staying in a nice hotel and spa to celebrate our 13 years of marriage!

I started to clear out my office and I am dedicating more time to it next week. I want to get it decorated in the next week so that I can start to plan the layout and get the new office furniture ordered. I am really looking forward to improving my home office.

Here are my collection of links for this week.

  • My first link for this week is a link to a post about How to implement GTD (Getting Things Done) on the Road. I am frequently on the road living out of a suitcase so this post provided some good ideas.
  • My second link is a link to a little post and video about how to Get More Organized with Evernote. I love Evernote and I am looking forward to getting my new scanner and going totally paperless using Evernote!
  • My third link is a link to a great post titled Three Quick Tips for Getting Ahead in Life. All three tips are simple but very thought provoking and I am sure that you, as I can take something from these three tips.
  • My fourth link is a link to a post about Making OmniFocus look good with themes. I have mentioned before that I love the functionality of OmniFocus but the visual appeal of Things and The Hit List do draw me to their apps. This post shows you how you can make OmniFocus look much better by applying themes.
  • My fifth and last link is a link to a post about GTD.NET, which is a Microsoft .NET GTD Application for Windows desktop clients as well as Windows Mobile Devices. Not one for me but looks great for Windows users. I will download it to one of my Windows VMs to check it out.

Wishing you all a great week!

Creating a Productive Home Office

Messy Home OfficeI am happy to say that I am eventually upgrading my home office and this is something I am really looking forward to.

My current office layout is now nearly 8 years old and a lot has changed since then. Time for a change and time for me to start with a blank canvas and plan an ideal and productive home office.

My home office 9 foot x 7 foot, so a pretty good size for just me and all the techie gadgets I can fit into it!

I am trying to get quite a minimal layout within my office whilst building a great working environment. My current office is rather cluttered and does become a dumping ground for a lot of things.

So, the essentials I need as far as I can see are a chair, desk, filing cabinet, inbox trays, and some cabinet to hold my printer.

I am totally clearing my office and buying everything new. I am going to take down my wall units and get the office painted and new carpet.

I currently have a desk with two drawers down each side. One is a drawer and filing cabinet and the other is three drawers. The filing cabinet is bad as it is hard to get my files in and out due to the layout of the drawer and the fact that it does not fully open. I currently have quite a cheap fake leather chair. My printer is on the top of a nice Ikea wooden cupboard.

For my new office I want a big, curved desk to hold my MacBook Pro and 30″ Monitor. I have seen one in Ikea from the Galant range. I want to do away with pedestal drawers as I just seem to fill these with junk, as most drawers are in most offices.

I am looking for a nice premium but trendy chair. Not really started looking but one in Costco does take my eye although it is quite expensive at £250.

I currently do not have a great filing capability and I must have a good filing cabinet in my new office. I want at least two drawers with the ability to utilize my manila folders and A to Z system.

I do not implement the Tickler File so no need for the 43 folders!

I have a laser printer that I do use quite a lot when I need to print anything out. It is only a small footprint but I still need some cabinet to keep it in, ideally out of view.

I am also really fancying a scanner to go totally paperless. I currently have a HP OfficeJet All In One but this has a large footprint and takes an absolute age to scan from.

I therefore will purchase a Fujitsu ScanSnap. The models I am looking at are the S300M or the S510M. These are not cheap scanners but the ability to duplex scan as well as use the ability to load the document tray with up to 20 sheets makes these a very attractive proposition.

I love Evernote and the ability to scan from the ScanSnap scanners straight to Evernote looks amazing, and one of my main drivers for trying a totally paperless office.

If I implement a paperless office I am going to need a good shredder. I currently have a bin shredder but it is quite lightweight so I may look at the cost of updating to something more heavy duty as I plan to shred everything I can.

I will take photos and keep you all updated of my new workspace.

Also, the photo at the top of this post is NOT my current home office :)

I would love to hear any recommendations anybody has about building the ideal home office or the choice of equipment to place in the office to make it as productive as possible.

Productivity, Motivation, and Personal Development Links – 7th June 2009

It has been my twins birthdays today. They are three. How time flies!

Had a good day at a toddler theme park in the UK. Got wet, as usual, but had a great time.

Here are my collection of links for this week.

  • My first link for this week is a link to a great SlideShare presentation on Time Management for Getting More Done with Getting Things Done. Intriguing title and well worth a look. I feel a post about SlideShare coming as some awesome resources are now on SlideShare.
  • My second link is a link to a list of 5 Great GTD Applications for Linux. It is probably fair to say that pure Linux users are in their minority but they do still exist. I know from this blog stats that I have many followers who are Linux based so this list of Linux GTD apps will be well received.
  • My third link is a link to a nice GTD intro post titled Going from Failing to Straight A’s with OmniFocus & GTD from Colin Wheeler. This is a nice post about how GTD helped one student vastly increase their grades.
  • My fourth link is a link to a great post from Web Worker Daily titled Not a GTD Disciple? Don’t Worry About It. Good post that covers general productivity.
  • My fifth and last link is a link to a post that raised quite a lot of interest when I tweeted about it. The post is Why GTD Sucks from Darkling Wood. Interesting post that I do not fully agree with. I am not the type of person who pushes pure GTD down peoples throats but I do believe in improvement and having the willingness to develop. What I love about GTD is the loose methodology that can bring so much to people. Love to hear your thought son this post.

I promise you all that I will write a couple more posts this week as I have some good ideas for the week.

Wishing you all a great week!

Things Apple Mac GTD App Review

I have eventually got around to taking a better look at the Mac GTD app, Things, and adding to a review that I did a while ago.

I currently use OmniFocus but Things and The Hit List are grabbing my attention. Anyway, here is my review and thoughts about Things.

Things GTD

Things is a blandly named but ultimately excellent organizational application designed for use through a variety of mediums.

The visual approach taken by Things is simple enough to keep everything easily accessible while still maintaining an impressive level of flare. Designers have given the software a certain level of sheen although the layout will look immediately familiar to users who are accustomed to the aesthetic of Mac-developed programs.

The most useful features are well-labeled and located in a well-organized and convenient manner. Icons are all colorful and easy to locate as well and this is something which helps in navigating them against the otherwise grey and white interface.

The program provides users with a solid level of productivity access through a great list of truly useful features. Among the laundry list of options are GTD staple categories such as Today, Next, Someday and Postpone sorting categories with appropriate sub-lists available within each parent grouping.

Things GTD App

Perhaps most useful is an included HUD option, something which is a truly fantastic feature and allows for quick, no-nonsense inputting of any upcoming task on the user’s mind.

Things also does a great job of keeping the main window clutter-free by way of a feature which removes columns and instead opts to display only relevant information for upcoming tasks.

Mobile access is set up and ready to go through a few different platforms including the ever popular support for both the iPhone and iPod Touch Apps. While it seems that smartphone access may initially be limited to the two aforementioned devices Things does do a little bit to extend remote usage by programming a built-in collaboration feature which promises to link any user’s work with any desired colleague.

As of now an exhaustive wiki accompanies a regular blog and burgeoning forum to provide quite a bit of promise for those users who hope to find other Things devotees to discuss the program with. If this element of the project is kept up with then it would seem that peer support and company interaction won’t be an issue upon release.

Things is impressive with a clean interface, excellent user support and great list of features could make Things one of the few productivity programs worthy of plunking down any real money for. It’s definitely worth the time necessary to check out to decide for yourself.

I am sticking with OmniFocus for now. But Things has officially got my attention!

Well, over to you, my readers. How many of you use Things and how many use OmniFocus or another app to get things done?