Monday, September 29, 2003

Task Management basics.
This week column is about how I implemented GTD using my Palm. But before that allow me to give you a brief introduction to GTD.


Getting things done is a way to be more efficient by trying to get us "in the zone", that zone describe by highly successful sportsmen and businessmen, basically "the zone" is that moment when we are so into our work that we just ignore the outer world and give our best. How to get there? I would recommend reading the book [Getting Things Done] to get a more detail explanation. For the purpose of this column we should say that there are 3 important steps to follow GTD.
- Keep track of ALL your projects and tasks; this includes work, house, etc.
- Select the "next action" for each project and classify it according to its context (house, office, phone, computer, etc).
- Prioritize what are you going to do based on the flow described in the book (I don't want to be sue for showing copyright material).

Now implementing this in a Palm Powered Handheld is not that easy, there are tons of tools to do this, but as I said last week, I selected the following tools:

- Built-in to-do
- Shadow

Shadow is an outliner that allows me in a very easy way to organize my projects and task, plus it can link individual items to items in the built-in to-do, calendar and address book. I link all my next action tasks to the built-in to-do, where I have them classify by context (@home, @office, @computer, etc) using the categories. Every week I review my list in Shadow prioritizing my task and adding any item to my to-do. When I am working I just look at my context and start working in my to-do, very simple yet very powerful.

I hope this information is helpful in your own quest to be more efficient using your Palm powered handheld.

Gabriel Castellanos.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Task Management basics.

I have talked about two importan uses for my Palm powered handheld, Keeping track of my calendar and writing notes, not it is time to speak about task management.


As any other use, this goes down to decide a strategy to organize your projects and tasks, I am very project oriented since that's the way I earn my living (I am a computer consultant) and after trying multiples approaches I selected "Getting Things Done" since this is closer to my personality. You should select yours first before looking for tools, there are a several strategies but I believe that the two most popular approaches are GTD and Franklin Covey (7 habits of highly efficient people). Both of them are supported by different tools, I guess it is just a matter of personal taste. Once you select your strategy the next step is to select your tools, here is a sample of tools you can use:

- Built-in To-Do
- Shadow
- Progect
- ThoughManager
- Bonsai
- Arranger

I selected Shadow and the built in to-do since I believe these tools provide me with the best combination between simplicity and features. How do I use them? that's the topic of my next column.


Monday, September 15, 2003

I know I haven't been able to update my blog as often as I wish (weekly) but I am getting better and hopefully soon I will keep it updated.

Writing notes.

As I mention in my last blog, my Palm powered handheld is a powerful tool to take notes, in provide me with an easy way to keep track of notes, no more post it, no more notebook that doesn't allow me to easily find my information... unless I have a lot of it!!!!

Now this is not an easy problem to solve, plus there is many ways to solve, so I took two approaches to fit my needs, hopefully one will fit your needs or at least allow you to find one.

First I decided to use a keyword system, how? simple: every Palm powered handheld has a very powerful search feature that allows to find anything that contains the text you are looking for. It is supported for most applications including you guess, memo pad and crypto pad. In order to have a simple way to find information in my memos I add in the second line of each memo a couple of keywords so it is easy to me to remember, this complements the categories, but this approach has two problems, first I need to keep track of my keywords so I know what can I look for, second I need an easy system to remember and to create my keywords. Not easy? you bet, my current keyword file (in Crypto Pad) has almost 50 keywords, which doesn't make it that easy to find something.

And here comes the second part of my solution, a database, yes there are database for a Palm powered handheld, there are two main competitors, although there is a lot of options out there, let me give you some names:

Smartlist to Go (formely thinkDB)
etc.(For more information you can visit:

Now all of these programs will work, it is just a matter of taste, I personally like HandBase, which I own the complete suite, and SmartList to Go which I only have the handheld version, why two? There are a lot of applets for both of them and many times there is no equivalent between databases, so it is just safer to have both.

Now what do I do with a database? I am using an applet that exist for HandBase to keep track of projects, it is very handy, it can keep track of tasks, contacts and NOTES and here is the important part, notes, it is very easy to classify and to search in HandBase and with these applet is even easier. I use this approach mainly for my work notes, since I can easily classify them by project.

Probably this approach is not perfect, but so far it works, if you have a better one I'd like to hear about it.