GTD Tips: Under-Promise and Over-Deliver

Well, it’s been quite a while since I haven’t touched my GTD tips folder. Yes, I do have a GTD tips folder, which is in fact a part of a journal. As you already may know that, I use Mac Journal to blog and, sometimes, to implement some GTD techniques for blogging. Today it’s time to … Read more GTD Tips: Under-Promise and Over-Deliver

Power Blogging With Mac Journal – GTD Style

I started to use Mac Journal 2 years ago. Initially I was using it only for my journaling activities. I needed something a little more versatile than my plain text file structure, and with some searching facilities integrated. Fortunately, Mac Journal proved to have all this, and even more. I soon discovered that I can remotely publish to my blogs from within Journal, download posts into it (for backup or just convenience) and brainstorm my future posts.

During the past few months, since I decided to make from blogging my main activity – after selling my online publishing business – I started to use Journal intensively. In this post I’ll share how I use Mac Journal for blogging, how I set up my blogging environment and how I applied, using Mac Journal’s powerful “smart journals” feature, a GTD-like blogging scaffold.

Setting Up A Remote Blog From Within Mac Journal

This is not a mandatory step, as you can always use your online blogging admin interface, but it might be of interest. You can add a blog to your journal by selecting the option “Edit blog server” from the “Journal” menu. A pop-up with some simple options will appear. If you’re on a wordpress set up, as most of the people, you should check the “Movable Type” type of your publishing method. A good idea is to add “xmlrpc.php” to your post URL and the admin username. That’s it, you’re now connected to your blog and can start publish remotely. You can even download the entries from your blog into Mac Journal, by choosing “Download entires from blog…” from the same “Journal” menu. Of course, you can have more than one blog set up, if you have more than one.

Establish Your Blogging Habits

Mac Journal lets you apply some sort of meta data to your posts. That will not be transferred to your blog, but it’s a convenient way to organize your blogging habits. Some of that meta data is: status, priority and ranking. There are also others like: tags, annotations or even colored label, if you want, which can be used for some neat visual effects. Let’s see how we can use this meta data in order to set up a more productive blogging environment.

First of all, you need a congruent blog routine for this to work. If you’re going to use this on a daily basis, you have to establish some rules for your idea brainstorming or future posts. My data input set up is like this: whenever I add an idea for a post, I also add the status, which is most of the time “Not Started”, for ideas that are just popping out of my head, the priority, which can be any number from 1 to 5, and a rating and color label (this is only for internal auditing purposes).

The priority number is used for slipping up posts into “Next Posts” and “Someday / Maybe” posts and it uses a 3/4 threshold. Meaning any priority between 1 and 3 (inclusive) will go on the “Someday / Maybe” posts, and any priority between 4 (inclusive) and 5 will go into “Next Posts”. “Someday /Maybe” and “Next Posts” are smart journals. And they can get really smart, you’ll see. The rating and label are just metrics for auditing my blog activity. With a color label I can see at a glance how many working post I have, how many published, and so on.

Read morePower Blogging With Mac Journal – GTD Style

Mind Mapping For iPhone: iBlueSky

After my last GTD software review, the article about OmniFocus for iPhone, I received a lot of positive feed-back. But among all the messages, there was a specific email which intrigued me. It was an email from a United Kingdom based software company called Tenero, in which the main developer announced the availability of a mind mapping software for iPhone. Are you kidding? A mind mapping application for an iPhone? That would be really something.

Minutes after I received the message from the developer, I checked AppStore, search for an application called iBlueSky, and installed it. And started to play with it. And continued to play with it. And played with it even more. And, if I wouldn’t have to write this post, I assure that I would play with it even now 🙂 .

How to mind map with your iPhone

The first thing you notice when you use iBlueSky is the extreme simplicity of the interface. You only have 3 buttons on the lower bar and this is actually all you need.

Adding child items is as easy as hitting the “+” icon in the lower bar. Before that, you have to select the item which will contain the child branch. If you want to delete an item, or even an entire branch, you hit the recycle bin icon. Easy as pie. And if you want to edit the content of an item, double click it:

And yes, this is actually an iPhone in landscape mode, and we all know that this is the best mode for text input, since the keyboard will spread over much more space. I personally think that the lack of a landscape mode in the Mail of iPhone is a serious drawback, by the way…

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OmniFocus for iPhone – a GTD application reviewed

A simple Google search for omnifocus is revealing more than 220.000 results (as of October 2008), which, for a personal task manager application, is a lot. And I would say that this popularity is well deserved by OmniFocus. Not only because it won the Apple Awards for Best iPhone Productivity Application in 2008, but because is a really useful piece of software. OmniGroup, the makers of OmniFocus, are well known in the Mac world for their OmniOutliner and OmniPlan products. I used OmniOutliner a lot until I shifted to mind mapping but I still use it from time to time even today. As for OmniPlan, it was a key factor in big projects, when I used to run my own online publishing business.

But from a large structure planning application to a personal organizer implementing GTD there is quite a gap, and one cannot expect to apply the same knowledge in both areas. Maybe this is why OmniGroup made some very interesting moves back in 2006-2007, bringing into the development team of what they called at that time Omni Fu the icon GTD blogger Merlin Mann, and the maker of a popular GTD implementation called Kinkless, Ethan Schoonover. I dare to say that OmniFocus wouldn’t be what it is today without the advices and know-how of those GTD gurus.

But enough with praises, and let’s start reviewing OmniFocus for iPhone. I expect this post to be rather big, so put aside some time to read it. Also, I must say that the intended audience for this goes from the unexperienced iPhone user who wants to increase personal productivity to the moderate GTD follower, so if you fall between these categories, give it a read.

GTD with an iPhone

The first and the most important thing about OmniFocus is its compliance with the GTD methodology. For those of you unaware of this concept, GTD is a methodology invented by David Allen, which can dramatically boost one’s personal productivity. In short, by using GTD you are doing stuff (Actions) grouped together (Projects) in specific locations (Contexts) and by taking one step at a time (Next Actions). OmniFocus lets you add your Projects, fill them with Actions, assign them to Contexts, and see when and where you can do them. But a picture is worth a thousand words (have I already said that?) so here is how the home screen of OmniFocus looks like:

OmniFocus for iPhone home screen
OmniFocus home screen

Projects and Contexts are just usual handles for task management, so these are pretty self explanatory, but what you can see at a glance in the home screen is also the time constraint for your activities. Being able to see on the home screen how many tasks are due soon, how many are overdue and how many important (flagged) tasks you have is such a time saver. Another noticeable thing is the lower sidebar, which features icons for nearby contexts, syncing, and quick add an action to Inbox. That lower bar is available all over the application. Simple and clear interface.

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GTD Tips: It’s Not How You Feel About What You’re Doing…

But about what you’re not doing… Yeap. Precisely. These GTD tips are just short sentences synthesizing in a very simple way some of the GTD concepts I found interesting or somehow become especially close to me. There are already 3 other GTD tips available. All these tips are coming in just one line of text. … Read more GTD Tips: It’s Not How You Feel About What You’re Doing…

Put Your Blog Into A Mind Map

There were several posts here at DragosRoua.com, related to mind mapping, over the last two years. In fact, there were so much posts about mind mapping that I had to create a separate category for them. From an introduction of how and why to blog with a mind map, up to a recap of my most downloaded mind maps, I wrote extensively about this. For the newcomer, mind mapping is a writing technique, which expand the linear thinking by letting you write in different “directions” or “nodes” of a mind map. This seems to be the brain’s most convenient way of representing reality, and it is often used as a creativity enhancement tool.

I found mind mapping very useful when it comes to speed up my management activities. Such as maintaining a blog. Like this one. You know, writing on your blog is a completely different beast than maintaining it. It requires a different set of skills, it takes a certain amount of time, and, like all other activities, can be optimized. If I can use mind mapping to streamline my blogging activity as a whole, why not do it?

My blogging process is the result of several different things: the software I use, the ideas that I want to write about, the posts, the categories, the plugins, the downloads, the revenue strategy… Quite a bit of stuff, right? And is not from the same league, as you already saw, it’s a mix of information, skill, activity and strategy. The challenge is to keep this in a manageable structure.

One very important management principle says: keep everything visible. If there are things on your business that are not visible to you, chances are that your customers won’t seem them either. Keep a broader perspective, try to always look at whole picture. And there is nothing more convenient for the “whole picture” than a mind map.

So, I put my entire blogging process on a mind map, and started to unfold it. Here’s the result:

As I already told you, blogging is a mix of different activities, information and tasks. Must be all visible in order to keep a consistent perspective, right? Must put together all items that create the blogging process and my whole blogging process look like this:

  1. headline
  2. categories
  3. posts
  4. revenue
  5. promotion
  6. plugins
  7. downloads

As you may see, there is no specific order in which I added them, and no consistency, some of them are information, like posts and categories, some of them are activities that I have to perform, like promotion and monetization, and some of them are pieces of software, like plugins. Not all blogs may have all the items listed above, but my specific setup does, and I’ll take a wild guess that the vast majority of blogs are pretty much like this.

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7 Simple GTD Rules For Bloggers

We all know what GTD can do for top managers or busy businessmen, this is what David Allen is doing all day long, training big guys to get things done. But GTD is not necessary a business-only process. It can be used with great results in other activities, such as blogging. If you are not … Read more 7 Simple GTD Rules For Bloggers

DragosRoua.com on Top 50 Productivity Blogs of the Year

Well, it looks like I will have a wonderful spring: today I was notified about being listed on Top 50 Productivity Blogs of the Year on Evan Carmichael‘s website. The top, divided in several sections, like “Getting Things Done”, or “Life Hacks” puts me near icon bloggers like zen habits or Steve Pavlina. I’am also … Read more DragosRoua.com on Top 50 Productivity Blogs of the Year