Thoughts & Tips for April 2018

 

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Photo by Hudson Hintze on Unsplash

Technology

I used the Pisen Wireless Presenter Laser Pointer 2500 for teaching my first GTD course.  I found myself using the mouse I had hooked up to my computer more.  I think that when I'm teaching, at least in the beginning, I like being anchored to my workspace with all my references.

I ordered another Wyze camera to do some physical security testing around the home. I think the new upgraded one is going to have better tracking capabilities.

Thankful For

My first Vital Smarts' new 1-day Getting Things Done (GTD) went well and so did my 2nd one.  I have another in April and then I should get my certification.

Easter was on April 1! (TODAY!)  And it was wonderful.  Here is a picture from the top of Mount Helix with your Praise Band playing:

JPEG_20180401_063135_5248880309424112

I really enjoyed re-reading Ready Player One and then seeing the new movie.

Future

My first Vital Smarts' new 1-day Getting Things Done (GTD) training classes at work is scheduled for March 8, 2018.

I think we are going to take a day in April and go up to Disneyland.

And my 24th Wedding Anniversary is coming up on April 9th.

Tip

Get a labeler and label everything.   It got mind from Costco - Brother Model 1890.  I use it for file folders, boxes, cables, etc.  Here is another great testimonial. 

Also these CHVRCHES sessions at Power Station on the Honda Stage are excellent: Mother We Share, Get Out, XO, and Never Say Die.

Quote I'm Thinking About

"A problem well stated is a problem half solved." – Charles F. Kettering


Thoughts & Tips for March 2018

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Photo by Robin Spielmann on Unsplash

Technology

I recently picked up this Pisen Wireless Presenter Laser Pointer 2500 for my upcoming GTD class.  It appears to work well has a laser pointer, mouse, and slide forward/backward.  I can also be used as a USB charger and has an internal rechargeable battery.

Thankful For

The two-day course at Rescue Academy with Mike Foster on Feb 8-9, 2018 is was awesome.  I learned so much!

Future

My first Vital Smarts' new 1-day Getting Things Done (GTD) training classes at work is scheduled for March 8, 2018.

Tip

Back in October 2017 I listened to this Tim Ferris interview with Jocko Willink.  This what I remembered Jocko recommending to get started with a new exercise.  He said to just do that thing as much as you can.  And then rest, and then try to do it again. Rest. Repeat trying and resting up to 8 times.  I've always sucked at doing pull-ups.  So every day in November, I just tried to do one. Over and over again.  And by the end of the month I could do one.  Then December became two pull-ups. January ended with 3 pull-ups.  And in March I am doing 4 pull-ups 6 days a week!

Quote I'm Thinking About

"There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know." - Donald Rumsfeld


Thoughts & Tips for December 2017

Jamie-hagan-37691-unsplashPhoto by Jamie Hagan on Unsplash

Technology

My primary computer for the last couple of years has been a Chromebook.  I recently upgraded to an HP Chromebook 13 G1, and I'm loving the 16-GB of RAM and Intel Core m7 processor.  I was able to find it on Craigslist, so I got a pretty good deal on it. Review of this chromebook at PC Magazine.

Another great find on Craigslist was a Garmin Fenix 3HR for tracking my runs, swims, and other health data.

Future

I'm really looking to A Holiday Variety Show in Hollywood, CA at the Fonda on Wednesday, December 13, 2017.  My favorite band CHVRCHES is organizing and playing as part of the show.

My family and I are planning to see the new Star Wars movie on Saturday, December 16, 2017.  I'm very excited about Episode 8!

Uncomfortable

Last month I took a today training class from Vital Smarts that will enable me to teach the new 1-day Getting Things Done (GTD) at work.  It was a great experience and it will be awesome to be able to help others with GTD at work. As an introvert this really got me out of my comfort zone. More info on train the trainer programs at Vital Smarts.

Tips

One of the key take-a-ways from the GTD training was looking at my Next Action list before doing anything in the morning like checking email.   While hard to do at first, this has really given me a focus on what was on my plate for the day in a way I've never experienced before.

During the month of December I re-evaluate all the email lists I am on.  I usually unsubscribe to 90% of them.  It makes my inbox for the new year all fresh!


Short Introduction To David Allen's Getting Things Done (GTD)

Short-into-to-productivity-tips

On Sunday, July 17, 2016 I did a little presentation at my church about David Allen's Getting Things Done (GTD).  Here are the references I used to prepare:

The focus of the presentation and the hands-on exercises included:

  1. Mindsweep
  2. Two Minute Rule
  3. Project Brainstorming

Here are the PDF copy of the presentation+notes.

Other material highly recommended for additional personal development (not in any particular order):


Google Keep Tip - Getting Things Done (GTD) Workflow Lists Via Colors

For the last couple of years I have had my personal* implementation of David Allen Getting Things Done (GTD) deployed in Google Keep.  

Google continues making very useful updates to Google Keep: Self Organizing Notes (via Tech Times), Diagrams (via The Verge), and Improved Labels (via Google). These have made doing GTD (Wikipedia) in Google Keep even easier.

Here is how I am doing the major GTD Workflow Lists using the Color feature in Google Keep (great support site) for items:

image from sholden.typepad.com

It would be great if you could rename the colors but that currently isn't a current feature.  So I created above categorization, and through the course of using them this way I've been able to remember them by color and position.  I also printed and laminated the above graphic, and have it positioned easy to read in my desk area.

The Google Keep search function lets you search by color (just two clicks on my Chromebook, tap-slide-tap on Android) so I can see all my Next Actions by searching on RED.  Or all my Projects by searching on BLUE. 

These are all pretty standard workflow list categories.  The one that I've added that might not be familiar to you is Dashboard (YELLOW).  This concept also came David Allen from a conversation that he had on a podcast when he was writing his Making It All Work book that came after the Getting Things Done book.

In that podcast, David described a MindMap he was using called his Dashboard that was anchoring him to his big ticket items for any given moment.  Since things were moving very fast for him at the time it was a great way to stay focus and prioritize his attention.  I've used this concept at work for years with my work* MindMap/Outlook system, and just moved it to Google Keep isn't it really isn't MindMap specific.

So I check my Dashboard regularly.  These change day-to-day and sometimes by the hour. The top part of the YELLOW search are notes that I want to see on a very regular basis and the items that are archived are actually my Dashboard references:

GTD-Archive-Graphic

I also created a Label called "+colors" and have made this handy reference that is always one click away via Label selection or search:

GTD-Color-System-Graphic

 If you have any questions or comments then please let me know: @sholden on Twitter.

*Yes, I have two separate systems which is not recommended by David Allen but works for me.  One is for work using only work resources (computers, software, etc.). And one for home/personal that uses my own personal resources.  When I need to bridge them I usually use email.

 


Reducing Drag - SD-CF II Card Adapter

I recently purchased a Compact Flash (CF) adapter that holds an SD card.  The one I got was: SD-CF II: SD to CF Type II Adapter (Supports SDHC MMC) from Amazon for under $20.

Extreme-CF-adapterThe reason I got this was to reduce some drag that was holding me back from taking my camera when I went out over the last couple of months.  Before the adapter, I had a standard CF Type II card that worked great, but I had created a work flow issue when I moved to my current workspace location at home.

Moving to the new space gave me an opportunity to set up my computer with no USB hub, card readers, etc. (ie. much cleaner and less cluttered).  However, now to get pictures off the camera I had to get out the adapter and hook up several USB cables.  Ugh.

But then I realized my main system has a built-in SD card slot so the adapter streamlines getting the pictures to my computer.  Pop the card out of the camera, take out the SD card, and then put it in my computer for upload.  Simple.  Less drag.

Here is a picture (also on Flickr in a larger format) that I wouldn't have taken without this tweak: 

Cactus

Anyone else have any other tweaks or gear recommendations that have reduced drags in their systems?  Let me know if you do!


Getting Started with Getting Things Done (GTD) by David Allen

From my perspective the goal of David Allen's Getting Things Done (GTD) is to get you focused on the things you want to do, when/where you can do them, and with the energy/motivation you might have at the moment of decision.

I cannot recommend this book Getting Things Done enough. 

If you are an audio learner then you can check out their free podcasts.  One of the best intros of GTD is by Meg Edwards.

There is also an awesome 2004 interview with David Allen at the Atlantic magazine.

Check out DavidCo.com for more resources.

 


One Week With The Apple iPad Review

Ipad-mosaicAfter experiencing the Apple iPad for the last week, I thought I'd outline my thoughts on the device that seems to still have a lot of buzz and interest.

In a nutshell, I am very happy with the iPad and I believe that it is a compelling device that fits in well between laptops/desktops and mobile phones.

I believe this device is going to help me be more effective with reading, podcast & audio book listening, and consuming professional content in eBook, PDF, and other standard formats.  I expect it will also help me on the organizational front with more ubiquitous access to reference material, project support data, and communications services.  Plus, it will be a fun device to decompress with casual games, videos, and music.

No device is perfect -- says the former Newton & still TabletPC laptop fan. As I outlined in a previous blog post, I had some concerns with the hardware and software as proposed by Apple for iPad v1.0 before picking up the device. 

The good news is that as far as I can tell there isn't anything new that the iPad can't do that wasn't already publicly announced before it was released. So, I don't have any buyer's remorse. I know there are now confirmed Wi-Fi issues, but I haven't experienced those with the Wi-Fi networks I have available to me.

Things that are great:
  • The screen is awesome.
  • Battery life is equally impressive.
  • Bluetooth keyboard support is solid.
  • Surfing the web is fast and fluid on the screen with the pinch-to-zoom working as expected.
  • Books via Amazon's Kindle application are readable and easy to consume over hours of reading.
  • Physically the device is solid and feels good in your hands.
  • Goodreader.net is a very nice $0.99 application for reading PDFs.
  • The interface and applications run fast -- so the custom Apple A4 processor was a very good idea IMHO.
  • The built-in Apple iPad applications are well designed.  The Email application with support for viewing a large number attachment formats is especially functional.
  • Native 3rd party iPad/HD applications look spectacular on the device. Some of the ones I've been using include: USA Today, Reuters, TweetDeck, The Weather Channel, Zino, Evernote, Toodledo, Kayak Flights, Dictionary, ABC Player, Yahoo! Entertainment, Sudoku Tablet, YouVersion Bible, and Box.net.
  • On screen keyboard is significantly better than my previous iPod Touch experiences.
  • Internal speaker is better than I expected and so is the microphone.
  • Doing a one on one demo with someone is pretty powerful for sharing and viewing information. The built-in Photos application is especially noteworthy as a good example.
  • Maps with Wi-Fi geolocation is remarkably accurate.
  • I haven't really ran into situations where multi-tasking would be an issue, but I can think of one area I am going to run into problems -- browsing in Safari and then wanting to post via TweetDeck.
Things that are not so great (from a consumer perspective):
  • Screen gets smudged very easily, but cleans up well.
  • Can't subscribe to podcasts directly in iTunes on the iPad.
  • The iPad could lose a half-a-pound in weight, and be more portable plus easier to hold over a longer period of time.
  • Pricing on new iPad specific applications is way to high in my humble opinion. Kudos to many of the application developers I currently use for creating 'free' upgrade versions.
  • The 2x upscale for standard iPhone apps leaves a lot of pixelation issues that distracts from the experience.
  • Safari has crashed more than I expected when consuming media files directly from sites like podcast RSS feeds.
  • I don't like having to sync to iTunes to get Contact updates.  You can get Google Calendar updates directly via CalDAV.
  • iBook prices appear to be on average more expensive than Amazon Kindle prices.  For instance, David Allen's "Getting Things Done (GTD)" is $9.99 on Amazon and $12.99 on Apple's iBook store.
Things that are not great (from my own Enterprise work perspective):
  • No DOD PKI CAC support so you can't sign emails or read encrypted emails.  You also can't use many DOD sites without DOD PKI CAC support in the browser.  Plus at my organization, VPN access and authenticated WIFI is not currently possible without DOD PKI CAC support.
  • Currently there is no way to encrypt the whole device and/or all the application specific storage areas.  This will be a problem as Data At Rest (DAR) requirements become more prevalent and no longer optional.  I've heard rumors about possible 3rd party solutions being released soon that solves this type of problem but nothing definitive as I post this review.  If anyone knows anything about future iPhone/iPad DAR solutions, then please let me know.
Other than fixing the items that are not so great, what could Apple do for improving iPad 2.0 hardware?  Here are a few suggestions:
  • More Bluetooth device support (i.e. networking, GPS, DOD CAC PKI, etc),
  • Integrate a native USB port,
  • Add an SD Card slot, and
  • Drop the price for all units by $100.
I'm sort of ambivalent on adding the camera from a video conferencing/chat perspective, but I think the camera as a sensor to capture location views, barcodes, snapshots, etc would be useful.

With recent news of the iPhone/iPad OS v4.0 coming out soon there is a good chance that many of the software issues will be either solved by this v4.0 release or an earlier v3.x release.  Given that the current release date for iPad support for v4.0 is Fall 2010, I'd expect a hardware update for the iPad when this actually comes out.  Regular Fall releases for new iPad hardware makes more sense for Holiday Sales, and future iPad release will probably be part of Apple's traditional new iPod releases usally in September or October.

The one thing I have not had a chance to try out but would like to is using the iPad to remotely connect to Windows or Mac systems.   I think this could be a big business area for Apple when the 3G version comes out.  With this feature, businesses could leverage the iPad for mobile computing solutions like access to intranet applications, sales presentations, eLearning, etc outside their internal physically controlled Wi-Fi networks.  The only reason I haven't tried them out is the three that look good for evaluation had prices ranging from $15 to $35.  Apple and their developers really need a 'demo' option for items in their AppStore, especially for applications with high price tags. Spending money to do multi-product evaluations is not that appealing to me.

Another thing worth noting is that there is definitely going to be more iPad-like products coming to the market in the near future. I think some of these will be pretty competitive, especially those with Google's Android and more than likely Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 Series.  The big change, when compared to the past, is that the iPad is based on an operating system geared for being mobile, and the full blown operating system software like those on previous TabletPCs is not the right answer for devices in this middle ground between laptops/desktops and mobile phones.

Want to learn more? One of the better Apple iPad consolidated tips, tricks, and pointers articles is posted at HowToGeek.com (link via Kreg Steppe @ FriendsInTech.com)  Another tool that looks interesting is a Google Docs editing tool called Office2Pro that was recently reviewed on one of my favorite mobile technology blogs JK On The Run.

If you have any comments, then please post them below and I'll definitely respond.  If you have any questions that you'd like to have answered, then you can send me email at: sholden@pobox.com or send me a Twitter message (@sholden) or on direct message on Facebook (sholden).

GTD Suggestion - Tracking References Via Google Maps

A recent question on the Getting Things Done (GTD) Virtual Study Group mailing list related to tracking travel related task & project items, reminded me that since this past summer I've been tracking geographical items of interest, reference, and someday/maybe items using Google Maps:

Google-my-map-01

The My Maps feature with Google Maps lets you create your own pins and references.  You can also make your maps public or private.  If you make a map private you can still send the private map as a link to someone else via email.

I like this option because the next time I'm in Atlanta I'll know the options that are available to me.  And the data is available with any Internet access plus browser.

I've also used this feature to build a Visiting San Diego Map for friends and family:

Google-my-map-sd-01

This has been very handy in helping visitors figure out what is available to do in San Diego County and how far away items are.


My GTD Weekly Review Dashboard

Picture 1 There was a recent tweet on Twitter #GTD from Emily Wilska (@OrganizedLifeSF) asking for a "status report" template that one might fill out after completing a David Allen GTD Weekly Review

While I don't have a status report template, I do have a personal Weekly Review dashboard hosted up on Google Docs.

Here is a link to my GTD Weekly Review Dashboard Google Doc spreadsheet that I created. [NOTE: Conditional coloring of fields & fonts may not transfer if you export to Excel or other spreadsheets.]

The basic idea is to track when you do the individual items of a review by placing the date in "Last Completed" column. The spreadsheet will then make a calculation based on today's date, and give you a GREEN, YELLOW, or RED status.  Most of the items are on a weekly (7 day) schedule, but some of them are on a monthly (30 day) schedule.  Here are some links for more information on how to implement conditional coloring of fields for Excel, Numbers, and Google Docs.  Feel free to customize to your own needs.

I started using this dashboard last summer when things were really getting out of hand at work.  I was finding my timing for reviewing Weekly Review items to be sporadic with some items being reviewed several times a day to some slipping a couple of weeks or even a month between reviews.  To keep sane, I adopted this dashboard for Weekly reviews (which I look at everyday) and also David Allen's My World Mindmap (which will be a post for another day). 

The key for me is knowing what I am doing and not doing, otherwise I turn into a crazy maker.

(7/15/2012) - Updated to fix broken link to Google docs.