FocusTodo is for those who dislike GTD.
AutoFocus is a minimalist time management system by Mark Forster. It certainly has its merits, especially if you find that time management systems like Getting Things Done (GTD) are too complicated. While there’s all kinds of GTD apps for the iPhone, only recently have apps based on AutoFocus started to appear. A very interesting AutoFocus app is FocusTodo (n.b. the website seems nearly entirely in Japanese) by Syncreticworks.
I’m going to do a short review of FocusTodo and suggest some possible improvements. It’s a pretty cool app anyways, and I think that AutoFocus purists in particular will really appreciate it.
iDecide how to decide
Sometimes it’s hard to make decisions. In my experience, a hard decision is one that involves multiple criteria the relative importance of which aren’t particularly clear. There exist methods to help you make such decisions. One of them has been implemented in an iPhone app called iDecide+. So I thought I would write about decision making, and briefly review the app, at the same time.
Consider a simple example: taking a vacation. You would probably want to spend as little money while having as much fun (however you define “fun”) as possible. But there’s more to it. You might want to go somewhere you’ve never been. You might prefer to distinguish between the costs of travel versus the costs of activities (beer, sightseeing, souvenirs, nightclubs, whatever). You might want to go somewhere with a particular climate. These are some of the criteria that would help you decide which vacation is probably the best for you. And these are just some of the possibilities; there are many others.
PTO: will be cool someday
To-do apps for the iPhone are a dime a dozen. So when one comes along that goes about things differently, it’s worth a closer look. Put Things Off, by spiffingapps.com is that kind of app.
PTO is a very simple task manager, more suited to the AutoFocus crowd than the GTD folks. (If you’re already lost, try reading this.) But it goes about things in a rather novel way: rather than emphasizing the need to do things, PTO makes it easy to, well, just put things off. Each task can be deferred by a fixed amount of time with just one tap. The period to which tasks are put off can be changed in the app’s settings.
Getting Things Done (GTD) is David Allen’s blockbuster time management approach. AutoFocus (AF) is Mark Forster’s method for staying organized, which is gaining popularity quite quickly. Though they have they same goal, I’ve not seen two more dissimilar ways of achieving it. As I try to keep myself organized – and (no surprise) doubtless end up designing my own time management system – researching what’s available is an important part of the process. And while this is neither an exhaustive nor an authoritative comparison, it has been beneficial in my own thinking. So I thought I’d share.
I love my iPhone
For a little end of the year fun (yeah, I said “fun.” So?), I thought I’d quickly summarize my favourite iPhone apps.
NoteMaster is my favourite writing app. You can write notes with embedded images, organize everything in folders, and sync your notes with Google Docs. It supports landscape mode for those who prefer it. It’s clean and simple and does its job. It’s not as fancy as, say, EverNote, and not as clumsy to use either.
Build your own mashup news feeds.
Because of my work, and my belief that information and knowledge should be shared as widely as possible, I collect web news and blog posts into RSS streams that anyone can follow. Maybe you’d like to do this too; maybe you just want to “follow” my feeds. In any case, here’s what I do and how I do it.
While I listen to CBC in the car and thereby get pretty much all the typical news I need, I do like to keep up on developments in various fields too. That’s where the web comes in.
I use Google Reader. There may be glitzier readers out there, but none can do the very simple thing of composing RSS feeds of articles I’ve tagged and shared. Google does an excellent job of explaining how sharing works in Reader; I won’t duplicate that here. Basically, this lets me build my own “custom” feeds out of other, existent feeds. I guess that makes it a kind of mashup.
Priorities are only useful if you understand them.
There’s many time management systems and software tools that include the concept of priorities. But priorities change with time and circumstance. Priorities can be useful, but not if you’re constantly re-evaluating them to keep them accurate. I think we can get around this conundrum with a combination of due dates and measuring one or both of two other characteristics: impact and effort.
The reason for prioritizing tasks is to help us decide now which task we should do at some future time. Obviously, we would prefer priorities to remain fixed once established. The basic problem is that they do not remain fixed. Read More
Where is it all going?
Recently, on CBC Spark, host Nora Young interviewed Luis Suarez about quitting email at work. You can also see Suarez’s Web 2.0 Expo talk at Youtube. It got me thinking about the role of software in our lives – especially in our work lives, and that regardless of how many new applications and systems are popping up, we’re still missing the Next Big Thing – maybe. Read More
I’ve started a new blog for posting announcements of calls for papers to design-related journals and conferences. It’s called DesignCalls here at wordpress.com. Read More
Diigo V4 is here!
Diigo is a web-based bookmarking and annotation service. I’ve written about it before. It’s the service I prefer over all the other free and comparable services because it seems to have just the right mix of functionality and usability for me.
One thing I have complained about in the past was the look and feel of the site, which seemed clumsy, especially when compared to what I think is the most well-designed bookmarking service: Delicious.
Well, someone was listening to me, I guess, because Diigo just announced version 4 of their site. And the key piece of the upgrade is a new and very much more polished look and feel. Indeed, the layout of the page is quite similar to Delicious! That’s okay by me; as far as I know, Delicious hasn’t protected its look and feel. This is just Diigo’s recognition of a superior aspect of another product.
Of course there’s more to Diigo V4 than just the look and feel. The other features are:
- web page snapshots on demand;
- improved search;
- improved annotation features (important for Diigo as a collaboration tool);
- a new, more streamlined way to share links and follow the links of individuals and groups;
- highly expanded and refined group-based activities;
- a new meta page structure for summarizing a user’s overall activities;
- an iPhone app (pending Apple’s approval); and
- a variety of other improvements.
You can read further details at the Diigo blog.
This is a good upgrade, besides providing a new and better service, it’s aggressive enough to indicate clearly that Diigo is interested in providing an excellent service, without totally re-inventing the service (which would have alienated some users). Version 4 a brand new version, so there are probably a few bugs in it, but overall it’s A Good Thing.