Tag Archives: moleskine

Productivity, Motivation, and Personal Development Links – 26th April 2009

I have had a week of report writing yet again. One thing for sure is that my report writing is really improving as is my ability to focus and deliver the report in the given timescales.

I am spending the best part of next week down at Earls Court in London for the InfoSec show with my company RandomStorm. We have a booth so if you are at InfoSec or Internet World be sure to pop by and say hi!

Here are my collection of links for this week.

  • My first link for this week is a link to a Lifehacker Post on how Steve Wozniak Gets Things Done. Steve Wozniak, or Woz is the original co-founder of Apple along with Steve Jobs and a much loved character. Interesting read to see how the great Woz Gets Things Done.
  • My second link is a great post about Getting Things Done with OmniFocus for the Advanced User. Great to see a post for the more adept user rather than the usual focus on the beginner who is either new to the tool or new to the Getting Things Done Methodology.
  • My third link is a link to a great little collection of Moleskine Hacks from James Mallinson at organizeit. I love my collection of Moleskine’s and I equally love these posts where others that share my passion release cool little hacks around these awesome black notebooks!
  • My fourth link is a link from Jesse Ruderman on how he uses GTD. Jesse is pretty new to GTD and started out after using Things on his Mac to Get Things Done. This is a nice little review of how one user implements the Getting Things Done Methodology.
  • My fifth and last link is a great post that I have featured before but some more sites have been added to it so I will run with it again. it is the 100 GTD Resource Post from Mashable.com. This is a great collection of GTD resources that you can get for free from the Internet.

Right, off to start packing for the week ahead at InfoSec and also I have to sort out some tech issues with a VMWare image, wish me luck!

Have a great week!

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?

Productivity, Motivation, and Personal Development Links – 30th November 2008

I had as great weeks vacation at Centerparcs with my family. I now feel energized and ready to get back to it.

I used my Moleskine and iPhone to their full ability whilst away, making a lot of notes and collecting every thought I had to ensure all my Open Loops were closed.

I had to do quite a catch up when I got back as I did not have 3G access on my Mac but I did on my iPhone.

Here are my collection of links for this week.

  • My first link for this week is a link to the latest December 08 issue of the Online Costco Connections Magazine. The reason for the link is that there is a great GTD Interview with David Allen on Pages 22 to 25.
  • My second link is from Baron.vc is it is a link about Really Getting Things Done with Remember The Milk iPhone App. Remember The Milk is a cool web and iPhone application and the blog post shows you how the author uses them both to Get Things Done.
  • My third link is a link to a video on how to create a GTD Notebook. The link to the video is from heathervescent.com although the link is to Rob Thompsons Blog
  • My fourth link is a link to a post about leaving Things, and moving to OmniFocus. I have not really given Things a proper try yet, as I am too firmly routed to OmniFocus and reading this post makes me glad that it seems my decision is the correct one.
  • My fifth and last link for this week is a link to the iBoughtaMac.com blog about To Do Lists Made Simple. The post focuses on Things as the application of choice. Good contrast to the last link.

I am trying to get one more post in tonight, a post covering the Top 10 Most Downloaded Free Productivity iPhone Apps.

Wishing you all a great week and I am glad to be back.

5 Vacation Productivity Tips

Vacation Productivity
I am going away tomorrow to Centerparcs with my family. I am looking forward to a nice week in the forest spending quality time with my family.

Like many people, I work hard and taking time out is quite hard due to the pressures of running your own business. However, bonding and spending quality time with your family is also very important and getting that work life balance is always key. I have four children so spending time with them is one of my main priorities but luckily I am home a lot so get a lot of time to spend with them.

Luckily, I have always been able to utilize my vacations as great “think tanks”. I always seem to come out of a vacation more energized than when I went in. Some of my greatest ideas have come out of being away on vacation.

I think it is the fact that I remove myself from my daily routine, so my brain is able to focus its thought patterns on other, more creative tasks.

I thought I would take the time to share what I consider to be five great tips for getting the most out of a vacation from a productivity point of view:

1 – Ensure You Leave With No Open Loops

Before you go on vacation, I feel that it is imperative that your Open Loops are closed.

What I mean here for those of you new to the term Open Loops is that you have to ensure your mind is free of niggling tasks that must be done before you leave. In the few days leading up to your vacation, it is very important to hone your productivity skills in order to complete the tasks that must be complete.

I like to prioritize the tasks that must be done before I go away and things that can wait. I do a pre-vacation review and get my task system in place with a clear defined list of actions that I must do in order to go away with a clear mind.

2 – Let People Know You Are Away

I always let people who may be needing me in the week I am away know that I am going to be away. This sets their expectations and removes the worry that you will get something to deal with that is urgent whilst you are away.

A very important thing to do is to set your Out Of Office Assistant letting people clearly know that you are away, when you will be back, who they can contact whilst you are away, and what they can do if they need to contact you.

Using a system like AwayFind is a fantastic resource for covering when you are on vacation. I have just changed my regular Out Of Office message to state that I am away on vacation with limited access to email, but they can still send me an urgent message through AwayFind if needed.

3 – Pack a Good Book

I love to read when I am away. I love biographies and anything which will improve my mind and motivate me. I have just finished reading Tycoon by Peter Jones and I am taking with me this time The Real Deal by James Caan. Book reviews will follow for both these books pretty soon.

Books ignite the spark in my brain and help me with my thinking. I normally pick up some little nuggets of inspiration from these books and it is always nice to see how other people made it. I like to read about success, motivation, and also people who are self made entrepreneur millionaires.

4 – Take a Notebook to help you Collect Your Thoughts

As I have wrote about before, when I am on vacation with an empty mind, I get my most creative thoughts. Because of this, and also the fact that I am not in front of my Mac all day it is very important to take a good notebook and pen with you.

I normally pack a couple of Moleskine’s and a few pens to ensure everything is collected. I always have my iPhone but seem to prefer paper based collection when I am away.

It is so important to collect and record these thoughts as soon as they enter your head. Once I return home, I enjoy recording all these into my GTD system to ensure that they are allocated and scheduled for completion when they need to get done.

5 – Enjoy Yourself!

Last but not least, Enjoy yourself!

You work hard, and you deserve a break! Too many times we are at work dreaming about being at home, and then when we are at home we are dreaming about being at work. It is important to utilize the time on vacation to recharge your batteries so you can return to the office energized!

Well, I will enjoy myself and I know I will have some great productive ideas that will be put to good use on my return.

Do you have any little tips and tricks for getting the most out of your vacations? I would love to hear!

Thanks, and have a productive week!

Getting Things Done System by James Marwood

This is a great little video from James Marwood about how he implements the Getting Things Done methodology for productivity.

This is a very in-depth 11 minute video where James goes into his full paper and electronic based system.

Great to see OmniFocus and also a MoleSkine. James has implemented pretty much the full GTD system including the tickler file.

Check it out to see what you think..

I personally think it is great that so many people are giving back to the GTD Community with videos like this. James’ system seems very organized, which I am sure helps him achieve his daily productivity goals.

Taking Notes Changed My Life

GTD Notes
I really mean the above statement!

A common thread I have on this blog is the importance of having the ability to take notes whenever you can. Every second between you having a thought, and recording it is a second closer to you forgetting the note. This is a key involvement of GTD when processing actions to Get Things Done.

For me, I carry a Moleskine wherever I go and now I am armed with my new shiny iPhone 3G. I have a post on OmniFocus for the 3G coming soon as I am loving the ability to sync my tasks and carry them around with me. I have also started using Evernote and the application between the web, iPhone, and desktop client is really slick. More to come on that as well.

Now, the reason I am writing this post is that I have just read a great post over at Lifehacker about the five best note taking tools. Evernote is on this list as well as my old time favourite, the pen and paper. The blog post covers Evernote, Pen and paper, Microsoft OneNote, Google Notebook, and Personal Wiki.

Check out the blog post and see what you think..

Getting Things Done in Las Vegas with OmniFocus

Well, I just returned from Affiliate Summit West ’08 in Las Vegas. Vegas is a 10 hour flight from the UK and we had a 5 hour drive to the airport so you could say that it was a long trip so my expectations were high, but is is Vegas after all.

Anyway, had a great time at the conference. Was a pleasure to meet people such as John Chow, Zac Johnson, and Justine Ezarik. I was gone from home for 5 nights and even though I was away, my tasks and work were not.

My current GTD system of choice is centered around OmniFocus from OmniGroup. I use Moleskine’s as my task capture device, and wherever you find me, the Moleskine is not far behind. This works for me as I can collect and hold numerous tasks on my Moleskine, and then enter them into my OmniFocus application when processing, and time permits.

MacBook Pro and EeePCI own a 17″ MacBook pro, and even though I love it. I really wanted something more portable to take to Vegas with me and the Asus EeePC had really taken my eye. All I need is web, email, and Skype to call back home at 1p a minute rather than the exorbitant rate of 55p per minute with my cell phone. The EeePC ticked all the right boxes so I bought one a couple of weeks ago and it is a fantastic little computer. It isn’t a Mac, so cannot run OmniFocus and I did not want to start looking at Linux based GTD apps, if there are any!

My mobile phone of choice is the Apple iPhone, and as the SDK for the iPhone apps is not yet out, I needed a way to leave my current system at home and still be able to record my tasks.

Sure, I could collect everything into my Moleskine’s but I do like to feel more organised than that and I was looking for some way to integrate with my OmniFocus whilst away.

I had seen an option in the OmniFocus Preferences about emailing actions to OmniFocus so I thought I would read up on the feature and how it can be used.

OmniFocus GTD

This is implemented as a Mailbox Rule within Mail.app on the Mac as you can see from looking at the rule below.

OmniFocus GTD

I set the OmniFocus application to Create the Mail Rule, archive processed messages and also to process messages where the subject line starts with “–“. Cool, now let’s see a real world example of how I use this every day in my GTD system.

I configured and tested this before I set off to Vegas on my trip. So, from my iPhone I can now email myself, on one of the registered email addresses and all I have to do is start the subject line with “–“, which is something I never see at the start of a subject line and therefore unique. Now, I always carry my Moleskine, but when sat in a conference, or anywhere else where you have WiFi or EDGE connectivity I can quickly send myself this email and it adds it straight to my inbox on OmniFocus as soon as I get back to the UK and power on my Mac.

In the week I was in Vegas I sent myself around 100 tasks. I find this method a great way as I did not have to update OmniFocus with my notes from my Moleskine like I normally do. They were copied directly into the inbox waiting to be processed into the correct context and have dates assigned to them.

Now, I just use this system in its simplest form in that I just get the task added to OmniFocus. As well as this, you have the ability to add various tags to the email to automatically move it to the correct context and set various other items such as the due date etc..

These are as follows:

The first line, and any other lines starting with — (double-hyphens), become new actions. Other lines become notes for the preceding action.

To specify a project, use > (greater-than sign) or :: (double-colons), followed by a project name or abbreviation.

To specify a context, use @ (at sign), followed by a context name or abbreviation.

To enter start or due dates, use # (number sign), followed by some date expression.

To enter a time estimate, use $ (dollar sign—time is money) followed by some duration expression (like 5m, 1h, and so on);

You can also add a note on the same line as an action title by separating them with // (double-slashes). Anything after the double-slashes becomes a note, but double-slashes in a URL like http://omnigroup.com don’t count.

Some examples are as follows:

— Call My Boss

— Paint the Garage Door > Household @ DIY

— Action 3 > Project 1 @ Context 1 // These are notes

— Action 4 #friday // Due Friday, because I only entered one date

— Action 5 #monday #friday // Starts Monday; due Friday.

— Action 6 #monday # // Starts Monday; no due date.

— Action 7 :: Project 3 // Written on my iPhone; colons work in place of greater-than sign.

–Action8>p2@c2#2d$5m//no spaces needed, nor full names

Myself, I would rather just get the task collected and process it later on my Mac using OmniFocus and my full size keyboard.

This is a great way to use the iPhone as part of your GTD solution. That is until OmniGroup release a native iPhone version of OmniFocus after the Apple iPhone SDK release.

Hope you have enjoyed this post and as always, I would love to hear your comments.

What System Do You Use to Get Things Done?

Time for a bit of reader participation.

I have nearly 800 subscribed readers to this blog so I know you are out there!I am interested in hearing from you all what system you use to implement GTD?

How many of you use apps like NozbeiGTDNextAction, and OmniFocus? How many of you own and use a Moleskine?

Comment on this post and let me know you are there!Thanks, in anticipation of course..