10 January 2006

Weapons of mass productivity

Des Paroz of the Personal Productivity Podcast has today on his blog a very interesting new post on his favourite productivity applications. There he very rightly stresses "that it is important to focus on working with your productivity system, as opposed to on it. I see a classic trap (one that I have been guilty of falling into myself) is to procrastinate by working on the system too much, trying to change things, playing with every tool/gadget/application available. You really need to understand the techniques and principles of your system before modifying it too much." I could not agree more and this is this very idea which what has led me about three weeks ago to go back to using Devonthink for my implementation of GTD.
I have a long time ago announced a post on my favourite applications but however never did. The time has perhaps come to get round to do it.
Mac applications
Devonthink is at the heart of my implementation of GTD and it is where I also store my research notes. . In one of their earliest productivity podcast, Des and Cameron Reilly regretted that there was not yet a do-it-all application. As far as I am concerned, Devonthink is as close to that as it goes. Its main weakness is of course the absence of any mind-mapping dimension .
Nova Mind therefore comes very handy, and has improved a great deal recently. I always recommend FreeMind as an alternative to my students.
Mellel. The official blurb says: "Mellel is an advanced word processor for Mac OS X designed especially for scholars, creative and technical writers, and anyone seeking a feature-rich and crash-free word processor". It really in my view puts the pleasure back into writing, without all the non-sense of MS Word. You can truly focus on your writing.
OmniGraffle is very useful to create presentation slides with great quality visuals or to create interest story boards.
Neo Office is extremelly useful to create or edit files using the excel or powerpoint format.
Online applications
Backpack is a great applications. I mainly used it to create next action lists for things I would do on campus at the university, where I did not always have access to a Mac. I am now however trying to keep all my lists in Devonthink.
Furl is most useful to keep interesting webpages/websites for future reference.
Gmail. Gmail has become really key to the way I manage my email in-flow. This has been the most spectacular change, since I have started to try and implement GTD, even as a white belt. I have in the last three months managed to keep, most of the time, an empty in-box by the end of the day. I catch emails from my work address and from my general address using the online facility offered by my ISP on Yahoo. The Gmail account has become both an address for friends/familly/collaborators/and VIPs. It is also an address where I forward from both my university address and general email address, which deserve to be kept for reference. Other emails are promtly transformed into next actions by been forwarded to my backack account or simply processed in my Devonthink system. A key idea is for both the Yahoo and Gmail addresses to be empty by the end of the day. I would be tempted to compare the way this email workflow operates with the spirit of Aikido. One description found online says that "Aikido focuses not on punching or kicking opponents, but rather on using their own energy to gain control of them or to throw them away from you. It is not a static art, but places great emphasis on motion and the dynamics of movement." Emails are not opponents but their own energy is used to transform them into next actions.
From Des Paroz list, two applications seem to be of special interest, and worth a try. NetVibes and Skype. I have already registered on Skype, but now need a new helmet as mine is unsuitable. I have little luck in trying to look at NetVibes tonight but it does sound like a great idea.

2 Comments:

At 1/11/2006 01:36:00 am, Blogger Des Paroz said...

Hi Pascal. Great title!

Interesting to learn a little about the productivity apps a Mac user loves.

Whats interesting to me is the movement towards web based apps. True cross platform....

See you on skype sometime!

 
At 1/18/2006 12:50:00 am, Blogger Pascal Venier said...

See you on skype anytime! I now have the right gear! The main problem will be to manage to be on skype in the same time frame in different time zones (Zulu v. I*)

 

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