Jott Integration

September 25, 2008

I’m pleased to announce that Jott has added a Premium Jott Link for Enleiten. While full signup instructions are here, all you really need to do is sign into your Jott account (post-beta, this requires some level of paid account), click “Add Jott Links”, choose “Premium Links”, and click “Add” next to the Enleiten icon. Feel free to change the link name if you’re so inclined, and check “Send SMS Response” if you would like to get a confirmation. Click save, and you’ll be briefly redirected back to Enleiten. If you’re not currently logged in, you’ll be prompted for your Enleiten login, otherwise you’ll immediately be redirected back to Jott. That’s it.

Now, just call into Jott, answer “Enleiten” (yes, they do know what it sounds like), and record your message. A new task will be added to your Enleiten inbox, with a link in the details back to the full audio.

Ask a Nobel Laureate

September 23, 2008

Physicist Dr. Leon Lederman sets up a card table on the street to answer science questions from passersby.

What’s the strong force?

As a photographer of liquids, how can I get more variety in the behavior of my subject?

At ScienCentral. Part 2 is also available.

What does this have to do with getting stuff done? Maybe nothing. Or maybe, as the gentleman I met last night claimed, “I used to work in academic publishing. All those professors are smart, but the ones who excel and make it onto places like Harvard and do amazing things are really just better at knowing how to prioritize their work so have time for the cool research.”

What’s not getting done tonight.

September 17, 2008

Tonight the cat decided that she would be a trusted system tonight, at least as far as making me not use my notebook is concerned.


Sometimes we all need our own reminders that the goal of implementing a good system for managing our work isn’t just about getting more done. It’s about taking care of what we need to do so we can relax and spend time on what matters.

If you haven’t been reading over at 43 Folders, Merlin Mann’s been writing about focusing on what you can do once you’ve gotten organized.

Google Calendar Tip: SMS Meeting Notices

September 9, 2008

While I was out last week, someone without a laptop wanted to check where the next panel she wanted to attend would be, and we got into a quick discussion of my calendar set up. I hate keeping track of my calendar, so I’ve set it up to notify me by SMS every time I have an upcoming appointment I need to worry about so I can be there on time.

If you’re using Google calendar or another similar online calendar system, this may work for you too. It’s quick and easy to set up, and will make it even easier to store your calendar somewhere other than your head.

To set up your phone, log in to your Google calendar account and click on settings in the upper right corner.

Select the “Mobile Setup” tab, select your country, enter your phone number, select a carrier, and hit “Send Verification Code”. You should receive a text message with a short code you can enter and hit “Finish setup”.

To set up default appointment notifications by text message for everything on your calendar, switch to the Calendars tab and click “Notifications” by your calendar name.

Now just set how early before your appointments you’d like a and you’re good to go. I also like to schedule a daily agenda email, so I’m reminded to look through my schedule and plan out tasks for the day that will fit in with the time I have that day.

To adjust the settings for a specific calendar event, the “Options” panel when you’re looking at an appointment detail will let you switch when your reminder message comes in.

Prioritization and Getting Things Done

September 7, 2008

After my panel at Office 2.0, and sharing our GTD-based web app with some of the crowd there, the question of prioritization kept coming up.

The discussion usually goes something like “it’s an interesting methodology, but I really need to be able to prioritize all my work, and there’s no way to do that”. In my experience, that’s not true, you’re just framing the idea of prioritization differently than most systems; you’re making priority an explicit decision about what deserves your attention. That judgement happens as part of your daily and weekly reviews.

You start by prioritizing along hard deadlines and framing out your time. Appointments that must happen at a certain time and date go in the calendar, and become commitments that you’ve said are more important than anything else you could work on that week at that time. By making them scheduled items, you’re implicitly saying that you’ll not take any new, incoming work or think about the rest of your to-dos to work on those scheduled items.

Then you pick out what I think of as soft landscape pieces: tasks that need to happen at any time on a given day. By building them into your workload on a given day, you’re saying they also have a high priority and that you value them enough to give them a specific, time-determined commitment, but that they aren’t important enough to promise to block out conversations and calls and emails to get them done.

As a final filter, you review your open projects. You look at the topics and themes that matter to you (Horizons of Focus in Allen’s terminology) and then look at your project list. Move most of that project list to “on hold” status, and leave active the projects that are the most valuable toward achieving your long term goals. Use the landscape pieces in your calendar to figure out how many projects you’ll realistically have time to fit into your schedule. These are your medium priority tasks- you’re making a judgement that they matter enough to commit to working on them, but not enough to make hard and fast promises in your calendar about when you’ll do them. If they were higher priority, you would commit to a given time.

Low priority tasks, in my interpretation, are everything on hold. If I finish everything active, I can move on to them. If I have a small window of time that doesn’t fit my active work, I’ll skim a context list and grab one of those as filler.

Once you’ve made these judgments, you’ll have a pretty short short list of things to do, compared to your overall project list. And when the inevitable flurry of incoming messages and calls and requests starts to arrive, you compare those to your active projects. Is anything coming in higher priority than what you’ve committed to in you hard landscape and thought are medium priority projects? If so, you’ll bump the tasks that don’t have dates and times associated with them and take on the incoming work.

Priorities in this model aren’t about assigning a flag to something to remind yourself that it matters. Instead it’s about making a commitment of your time and focus to a subset of your possible work and letting the rest be stored in your trusted system until you review again and reevaluate those commitments. And leave time for friends and family and real human interaction. If your work-related tasks and household administrative stuff will fill your schedule from the time you wake up to the time you go to sleep, you can skim that active projects list and find the point at which you need to set that aside and go enjoy a relaxed evening with your loved ones.

GTD is a trademark of the David Allen Company. It’s use on this blog has not been reviewed by their company, I’m just another GTD-er sharing my experiences.

Office 2.0 Getting Things Done panel with David Allen

September 4, 2008

The Getting Things Done panel discussion at Office 2.0 is now online. Watch David Allen, Neil Mendelson of MindJet, Kevin Merrit of blist and our very own Doreen Hartzell discuss how Office 2.0 tools can support Getting Things Done.

Video here:

Office 2.0 Google Keynote – Matthew Glotzbach

September 4, 2008

Badge.png10 things I can do in the cloud I couldn’t a year ago.

10. Everything on the go. iPhone. It has opened up mobile computing. Can do pretty much everything from the mobile phone now. Email. Document access. Review presentation on way to talk on train. Hopefully soon give cloud hosted slides from phone too. Can get normal work done from phone at airport without hauling out the computer. Impact about what is coming and what to expect.

9. Search all my mail. Google’s move to cloud computing really started with GMail. Has 14 GB of mail. Can save everything. “Do you know Bob?” Search email and find old communication from years ago. (externalize nonessential memory?) But can still access the actual content in the traditional ways if desired through preferred clients. Important for enterprise clients who are attached to their desktop applications because they already know how to use them, even if they have complaints about the shortcomings of a given tool. Hit sync when boarding is called at airport, process it all in the air, sync upon land to send.

8. Chat with customers and partners in any language. Real time translation on chat. Collaboration can cross boundaries – not just within a company, but internationally. Invite a chat bot natively within GChat. Invite a foreign language speaker. Start chatting as normal and get live translation sent with your messages. Very useful for international chatting, can also teach the translator by sending feedback if the translation is not very good.

7. Collaborate simply and securely on projects with sites and documents. Shared document space creates single repository. Can then grant journalists and others access when launch documents are ready, they can track changes and revisions until time to announce. Makes a lot of version tracking obsolete.

6. Organize all business travel by email.

Accepts confirmation messages and it parses your itinerary components and aggregates them into a single itinerary. Adds them to you calendar too via iCal feed you can subscribe to. Has iphone optimized mobile interface as well. Makes confirmation numbers easier to find, when at a check in desk. Built on existing, widely adopted technology: email. Also allows sharing to track and notify others about where people are if on the road.

5. collect data in forms and dump to spreadsheet. (Google Spreadsheets – “Create new form” menu option) Drag and drop to reorder questions. gives embed code. Live tracking as results come in as well has spreadsheet copy for later use. Dynamically updates spreadsheet in the background.

4. Build any scalable business application on the cloud platform. Google app engine,, AWS. Not just small applications. On demand large processing without major infrastructure costs.

3. Online templates for documents, spreadsheets, presentations.

2. Run fast, secure, stable web applications. Broswer is the gateway to the cloud. Chrome is a speed, usability leap forward. Geared for next generation web applications. Sergey asks the developers daily when the Mac version will be ready, so it will be okay for us Apple people soon. Run browser as application window that interacts with OS like desktop software. Can kill individual plugins and tabs without closing whole browser application. Order of magnitude faster javascript engine over IE.

1. Video sharing in Google apps. Mac, Phone and flip cam mean 3 videocameras being carried around all the time. Lots of opportunities for sharing and communicating. 3000 sign ups a day at Google, huge growth in usage and adoption.