GTD on mobile?

Want GTD on mobile? This man has found a great answer that works with any device.

From a press release on BusinessWire:

Jason Spencer - media professor, broadcaster, and entrepreneur - wanted a way to use David Allen's Getting Things Done® (GTD) methodology, eProductivity™, and IBM® Lotus Notes on his mobile devices.

For months, Spencer has searched for a mobile personal information management system (PIM) "that works out of the box on iOS and Android devices," would be conducive to implementing GTD, and would be secure. He's finally found this PIM in a combination of IBM Lotus Notes, eProductivity, CompanionLink, and DejaOffice.

This is coming from a man who's tried virtually every PIM app on the market and who's owned 80 smartphones over the last 6 years. I do believe he knows what he's talking about -- that's why Eric works with him.

Original press release on BusinessWire: click here.

To read Spencer's recommendations, view his blog post here.

Review of the BlackBerry Torch’s task app

I've been meaning to write this post for a while now.

Before getting my BlackBerry Torch, I'd heard the native BlackBerry task app was buried deeply within the OS and wasn't too streamlined for efficient use. So I was interested to see if that'd be my experience.

I of course use Lotus Notes with eProductivity, and my tasks sync seamlessly to the BlackBerry thanks to the power of BES. So at least getting the task information to and from the device is quite simple.

Task App Location and Favorites menu

So is the task app buried deeply? Yes it is.

To get to it, you have to go to the Applications folder, which is itself pretty far down the icon list on the home screen. Featuring the Task app doesn't seem high on RIM's priority list, a curious decision because isn't BlackBerry's cachet all about business productivity on the go?

Anyhow, we can easily make the Task app more accessible by adding it to the Favorites menu. I had to hunt around a bit before figuring out that to add new apps to the Favorites menu, you have to press down and hold for a second on the app's icon. Then a little menu pops up asking if you'd like to mark the app as a favorite.

So I did this for the Task app, plus a few others. Here's my current Favorites menu:

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I also looked at programming the Convenience Key to point to the Task app instead of the default Camera app, but the Task app is not one of the listed options. Bummer.
Sorry for the misinformation, this is not true. The Task App IS an option. Not sure how I missed that when I checked on this initially...

Continue Reading: "Review of the BlackBerry Torch's task app" »

So I got a Blackberry Torch yesterday

This is the first Blackberry I've ever owned. I'm pretty excited.

I'm looking forward to better access to my Lotus Notes/eProductivity systems while I'm on the go, a functionality that I've been lacking for a while. Plus business-critical features like secure Blackberry Messenger will be great to have for communicating with our eProductivity team.  

Now, there are lots of exhaustive Blackberry Torch reviews all over the web (for instance here, here, and here), so I won't be adding another one. I'll leave the "objective" reviews for the tech journalists. No, this post (and subsequent ones) are going to be all about my personal impressions and thoughts about the Torch as I use it for everyday job and life responsibilities. So I get to be as biased or unbiased as I feel like. ;-)

Ok, I'm going to give a few first impressions from my Torch and then end by posting a couple of semi-blurry screenshots since that seems like the traditional blogging thing to do.

So my first impressions of the phone are generally positive. First of all, the phone feels well-built. Some might call it hefty compared to other smartphones; to me, the solid feel gives confidence that this phone can take a beating and keep on working. I have the same feelings about my Lenovo Thinkpad which I love for it's sturdy design, among other reasons. But even though the phone seems a little heavy, it's not too large and it fits nicely in my hand.

The glossy surface definitely attracts fingerprint smudges, as you can see in the photos below. I'll probably be a frequent user of the cleaning cloth that came in the box.

One of my hesitancies about getting the Torch was the pushback from the Gizmodos and Engadgets of the world saying this phone had an underpowered processor, a low-res screen (compared to, say, the iPhone), and just general sluggish performance. That worried me a bit. But so far, my Torch seems snappy and smooth in performance, and the screen is bright and clear. I think it's quite aesthetically pleasing, even when I compare it to my iPod Touch running iOS 4. Let's see what I think when I've had more time to clutter it up with apps and information.

Lastly, thanks to our BES server here at eProductivity, connecting the phone to my Notes tasks, calendar, and email was a breeze. I looking forward to digging into the productivity aspects of the phone. I've already noticed that coming out of the box, the Task app was ridiculously buried...

Well, I'll be traveling extensively this next weekend + part of next week. That should give me a great opportunity to put this thing through it's paces. I'll keep you updated.

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With the recent discussions about Apps and how consumers want the freedom to find, evaluate, and purchase Apps for their Smartphones, I'm curious to know how many users are able to download and use a productivity application and how many have policies that prevent them from doing so.

If you found a productivity application for your mobile device that was proven to increase your performance, would you: a) be allowed to install it? b) encounter resistance (or refusal) from IT to allow you to install it? c) make a business case to management for why this App should be allowed?

Please take a moment and vote in one of the two quick polls below, then scroll down to share your comments.

Update: The survey is now closed. View the results below

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I'm not asking whether you think Smartphones connected to enterprise systems should be locked down or not - there are many valid arguments for both sides of that discussion. What I most want to know is what the current climate is like when it comes to productivity applications on mobile devices and what organizations are doing to encourage/permit or discourage/restrict users from downloading and using productivity applications on their mobile devices.

Update: I split the question into two separate polls because otherwise the results could be skewed in favor of the iPhone/Android as these devices are often unmanaged/uncontrolled in the enterprise.

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Telecommuter. Remote Worker. Digital Nomad. Road Warrior. These are but a few of the names used to describe people who don't regularly see their co-workers face to face. I'm one of them. Perhaps you are, too.

The names can imply different things. A road warrior is someone who takes frequent business trips while a remote worker is (usually) someone who works from home. Measuring how many people telecommute is difficult.

Regardless, telecommuting comes with it's own set of opportunities and challenges. Let me share some things I've learned.

3 Things I've Learned -

  1. Find the Right Noise vs. Isolation Balance
  2. Communicate Frequently with the Office
  3. Know When to Quit

1. Find the Right Noise vs. Isolation Balance

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Common advice for remote workers is to "eliminate distractions". I want to dig a little deeper.

I find I need a balance between noise and isolation. Too noisy? I can't think. Too quiet? I start distracting myself with the desire to be near the action. I hate total isolation and I prefer instead to find the right kind of noise.

Having people around me creating LOW-volume noise is great because it makes me feel connected to life. Playing music between phone calls and even singing loudly can be great for my focus - it's a special Gen-X skill. ;-) Plus it's a perq for working from home!

Less ideal noise is my family deciding to blend a smoothie...right next to my desk. (My workspace is close to the kitchen and not very sound-proof). The point here is that I find a certain degree of noise to be a productivity boost. The trick is figuring out what noises personally distract you, and which ones help.

As a side note, I find coffee shops to be an ideal mix of low-level people noise and I'm usually very productive in that environment.

2. Communicate Frequently with the Office

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Geographic distance from co-workers can lead to getting out of touch with priorities. I might be churning out work, but it is it the right work? To be effective and not just efficient, keeping a strong communication flow to the office helps me stay on track and get excited about what I'm doing.

By communicate, I don't mean just checking email. I find it's vital to have regular phone calls (and video calls) to ensure my team is moving in the same direction. My colleagues and I practice the GTD method of maintaining Agenda lists leading up to our meetings. Then when we meet via phone, we can plow through the everyday items that require our mutual attention. Perhaps more importantly, we try for regular strategy meetings where we discuss the bigger picture.

Another trick we use is regularly CC'ing and BCC'ing each other on communications we send to other people, such as clients. (Private emails stay private, of course.) This way, everyone gets a better pulse on what's going on for our company. The key is that any email from colleagues that has a BCC or CC is considered "FYI only, just read and delete."

3. Know When to Quit

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One of my greatest challenges working remotely is finding the right work-life balance. It's not so much that I'm getting communications from my co-workers at all hours. It's that my work is constantly available and I know there are always important projects needing finishing.

What I'm finding is that I'm noticeably less productive after a certain number of hours in my chair. I start to mark time rather than really do work. So I (try to) break for a while, because it's more important to get things done than it is to log a certain number of hours.

One trick we use is setting our Skype status indicators (online, offline, away, etc.) to communicate our general availablity. Give yourself the freedom to set your personal status indicator to "offline" on a regular basis so you have the energy to be effective during your "online" hours.

What have you learned about telecommuting? Any tips or tricks to share?

ITANA enables eProductivity on the iPhone

Mark Hughes is the Lotus Notes developer behind the ITANA app that makes it possible to access Lotus Notes tasks, Journal entries, and more from an iPhone or Android device.

The iPhone is notorious in productivity circles for not having a native task application. This makes syncing the iPhone to desktop task managment software like Lotus Notes to be a challenge at best. Mark's ITANA application could be a solution to this gapping need in being productive with the iPhone. Plus, his solution works on Android.

Mark has contacted us about getting eProductivity to work with his solution and there has been progress on that front. He wrote a blog post today called Manage eProductivity Projects & Actions on your iPhone and Android. He's got a few screenshots there that show what he's been working on, including this one:


Using eProductivity on an iPhone with ITANA

Head on over to Mark's blog to see more screenshots and ITANA information.

Productivity of the average iPhone user

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Via the Rational Geekery blog

New Android App: BrainDump to Notes

Jens Bruntt has created a really cool and useful app for Android devices called BrainDump to Notes. The app allows you to quickly capture actionable items on your Android and then sync them with your Lotus Notes To-Dos in a single click.

I've only watched the video, but Jen's app looks very easy to use. The idea is sort of a cross between GyroQ and the eProductivity Mindsweep Coach. Jens himself is a long-time eProductivity user and he says the app works great with eProductivity. Excellent!

The app is available for free from the Android app market.

Maybe it's time to go nag my boss about getting me a 'Droid?...

I've got a special treat for you, courtesy of David Allen himself.

Last weekend, Eric Mack sat down with David and talked about eProductivity, Lotus Notes, IBM, cloud computing, and much more. Graciously, David allowed Eric to record portions of their conversation so that we can share it with you.

I'll be posting new clips every few hours. Here are two clips to kick it off.

[YouTube Link]


[YouTube Link]

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"GTD®" and "Getting Things Done®" are registered trademarks of the David Allen Company. Lotus® and Lotus Notes® are registered trademarks of IBM Corporation.