Monthly Archives: March 2007

Archiving e-mails with Devonthink

The IT-Enquirer has recently published Archiving Your e-Mail on a Mac OS X System, a detailed comparison of the different email archiving solutions.

“DEVONthink Pro Office has one huge advantage over every other solution that you can use to archive e-mail: it uses artificial intelligence for its search capability. […] with DEVONthink Pro Office you’ll get a lot more than just an archiving application. It’s nothing short of a knowledge management system, where you can literally find relationships between information snippets that you didn’t know were there. This is great if you want to analyse your e-mail messages after they’ve been archived.”

Nearest book meme

Looking up “time-management” on Technorati, the first post listed, from a blog I had never visited before, was on the “Nearest book meme”.

The instructions are as follows:

  1. Grab the nearest book.
  2. Open the book to page 23.
  3. Find the fifth sentence.
  4. Post the text of the next three sentences in your journal along with these instructions.
  5. Don’t dig for your favorite book, a girlie mag, or the intellectual one: pick the closest.

The result for the closest book from my desk is:

“Unless you wrote it down and put it in a trusted “bucket” that you know you’ll review appropriately sometimes soon, more than likely you worried about it. Not the most effective behavior: no progress was made, and tension was increased. | The big problem is that your mind keeps reminding you of things when you can’t do anything about them.”

… Surprised ? 😉

… Your turn!

Mark Forster: Simplify!

Mark Forster, the celebrated author of Do It Tomorrow and Get Everything Done and Still Have Time to Play, offers advice as ever full of wisdom in his latest post, Simplify!. Says he:

“One of the problems about learning techniques to use our time more productively is that if we’re not careful we find ourselves using our new skills to take on more and more commitments. […] So let’s have a look at one of the most basic time management principles… which is to take on only those things which take us towards our life goals. This takes constant vigilance.”

Link to the post

Highrise for GTD!

37Signals, the privately-held Chicago-based company, already known for both its Basecamp and Backpack products, has just launched another web-based application, Highrise, which seems to be an immediate success.

Highrise is an online contact manager. Says the blurb:

“Track leads, clients, vendors, and more. Keep track of who your business talks to, what was said, and what to do next.”

But it also offers interesting possibilities for implementing GTD, providing your choose one of the plans offering an unlimited number of cases. That was initially the case of the most expensive plans, starting at US$ 49/month. However 37Signals, responsive as ever to its customers, has just added a Solo plan, which for US$29/month offers some very competitive features, which include unlimited cases.

I have only registered for a Solo plan this afternoon, but I am already very satisfied with what I have been able to do. Whilst I am still learning some of the most advanced features, in particular how to forwards emails you receive to your Highrise dropbox, I nevertheless want to share my excitement about the possibilities offered.

The way I would suggest using Highrise for implementing GTD is very simple: think of Highrise Cases as GTD projects, Tasks as Next Actions, and Categories as Contexts. Nothing complicated.

Getting Things Done Highrise
@Context Category
Project Case
Next Action Task

* * *

The race for the perfect GTD software is on. Considering the outstanding quality of its current offerings, Backpack, Basecamp and now Highrise, 37Signals may well one day come up with a purpose built GTD web-based application, which would be very difficult to equal: it would only be a matter of combining some of the features of those three products.

[Update: 15 May 2007. I would like to retract the conclusion of this post. This would only be if 37Signals apps were available off-line, which is not – nor it seems will ever be – the case.]

A few thoughts on Anne Zelenska’s recent remarks on Getting Things Done.

Anne Zelenska has recently mentioned Getting Things Done among her list of 10 things she hates about web 2.0. She writes

Getting Things Done. The productivity virus so many of us have been infected with in 2006 and 2007. Let’s move on. Getting lots of stuff done is not the way to achieve something important. You could be so busy planning next actions that you miss out on what your real contribution should be.

I have the greatest respect for Anne but would disagree with her observations.

It is true that, on account of the fact that it is based on a bottom-up process, there is in David Allen’s method some emphasis on the horizontal dimension of GTD, ie managing actions and projects, what I would call the tactical dimension.

There is however also a vertical dimension to GTD, ie the 6 Levels of focus, which is perhaps less apparent at first, but which becomes increasingly important as time goes. This vertical dimension, helps you to distinguish between what is of a tactical and what is of a strategical nature.

My experience has been that in a first stage, implementing GTD has resulted in a significant gain in efficiency, but in a second stage, once I really did start playing with the GTD levels of focus, implementing the method resulted in a clear gain in effectiveness. Far from piling up more projects, I now tend to think more strategically about the projects I undertake, by asking myself whether they fit with my current areas of responsibility and my long term objectives.

Marc Orchant, who has brilliantly described Getting Things Done as ““a phenomenal piece of mental artistry”, has adopted the following, a marvelous two-liner by Peter Drucker, as his favorite quote on productivity: “Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things”. Keeping this precept in mind at all times, should be enough to avoid falling in the trap described by Anne Zelinska.

Author/speaker/coach … /blogger

Since I published a review of her book One Person/Multiple Careers: A New Model for Work/Life Success, author/speaker/coach Marci Alboher has managed to add the new slash “blogger” to her list of labels, as she launched the Heymarci Blog! yesterday. She introduces it by writing:

I’m the author of ONE PERSON/MULTIPLE CAREERS: A New Model for Work/Life Success (Warner Books 2007). These days, my career has several strands. I write, mostly about careers, small business, and travel. I teach/coach other writers working on nonfiction projects. I lead workshops/speak about how to succed in nonfiction writing and other career issues. In an earlier life, I practiced law for nearly ten years. I refer to these various identities as “slashes,” and moving among them is what my book is about. This blog contains my musings about how to be happier and more fulfilled as a writer, a speaker, a teacher, or in any other kind of work.

Best of luck to the new /blogger!

Marci Alboher, One Person/Multiple Careers: A New Model for Work/Life Success

Marci Alboher, One Person/Multiple Careers: A New Model for Work/Life Success (New York: Warner Books, 2007). ISBN 978-0446696975.

Marci Alboher, who describe herself as a former lawyer and an author/speaker/coach, has identified a fascinating emerging trend, the practice of leading composite careers, which she has been tracking over a period of time, conducting many interviews in the process. She has coined an excellent formula to describe this phenomenon to an American public, but which perhaps would not work so well in Britain: the “slash-effect”.

We are not only speaking of old fashion moonlighting, although this is one of the form of slash lifestyle described: a very amusing example given is that of this policeman/landscape designer, who describes himself as being in lawn enforcement. This also involves the good old polymath. Whilst interestingly, and unless I am mistaken, Alboher does not use the term in the book, she does indeed mention not only both Leonardo da Vinci and Benjamin Franklin, but also the well established figures of the medic/writer or lawyer/writer. The range of modern Slashes is however much larger and among examples given can be found a rabbi/comic, a police officer/personal trainer, a lawyer/chefs, a surgeon/playwrights, a mother/CEO, an actor/web-designer, etc.

It is very important to stress that the slash lifestyle is not only a case of simply supplementing one’s income, although “most show an entrepreneurial streak at the heart of their stories”, but “overwhelmingly, people become slashers in order to pursue their passions.” Slashes have in common to be “inherently curious, eager to engage and immerse themselves in a multitude of areas”.

This is an extremely well written and extremely lively book. In fact, I would go as far as saying that it is a real page-turner! I was of course initially interested in the topic or I would not have asked for a review copy of the book, but it had been some time since I had read a book cover to cover, in such a way, over a week-end. Marci Alboher’s secret seems to be the very elegant way in which she blends nearly seamlessly short elements of live-stories (I was very tempted to write here “Slashes-stories”!), which are as many lively narratives based on the extensive interviews she has conducted, with what can be learned from the various experiences. A technique which also works very well is that to present in bold in the text the main take-out in the body of the chapter, and bring them all together at the end of each chapter in a sort of summary. On the whole, one would be extremely hard-pressed to find anything to criticise in the book, besides perhaps a slight redundancy between the short profiles described in the text and the material presented in the appendix.

This book is essential reading for anyone thinking of a career change by adding another dimension to one’s current life. Do you have what it takes to be a Slash?