Finally Settled on Some Task Apps

It took me a long time to find something that works for me to organize both my Google calendar(s) and a todo task list together on my Android phone. For the longest time I had set up a makeshift todo calendar in Google, but really the Google Calendar isn’t great at task based items.

I was always hesitant about using Google Tasks because of the lack of integration with Android’s native calendar. It made for 2 separate lists, which adds complexity and resistance.

With the help of 2 apps, I can now combine both calendar items and task items and view them together on one simple list.

The first app is GTasks by Dato. It’s a simple interface that integrates with Google Tasks. It makes for viewing, adding, and checking off new tasks very fast and easy.

The second app is Android Agenda Widget by Everybody All The Time. This hooks into both the Android calendar and GTasks and displays a complete list of items on one of my home screens. Both appointments and tasks display in one merged list for a very easy view of the day’s items. And each item can be clicked on and managed with only the one click. Very simple.

For the longest time, I kept a paper notepad with me at all times. It’s a good practice to carry a notepad for when it’s not possible to access the phone or computer. But I was finding that I didn’t efficiently get items off the paper list and into the calendar(s). And I was probably using it more because it was easier than entering something on my phone. But now with GTasks, it’s very easy (and faster) to enter the item right into the app on the phone. So now the paper notepad is just in case of an emergency (and not an extra step).

When I’m at the computer, everything is synced seamlessly. So there are no duplicate or conflicting lists to deal with.

There is one small thing. Google Tasks doesn’t allow for recurring tasks. I saw a feature request thread on their forum and they said that they are going to be working on it. Once that’s in place, my system is complete. Until them, recurring tasks/reminders still have to live in a Google calendar (not task list).

My Cross Jotter Hack, Part II

First I cringe at the word hack. It has jumped the shark. Even the expression “jumped the shark” had jumped the shark. But that’s not today’s topic…

This is Part II of my Cross jotter alteration. Pretty soon, it won’t be Cross at all. See Part I here, where I replaced the shoddy original pad with a better one from Mead.

Over a year later, I’ve finally found another pen that fits the jotter case. Granted I didn’t search too far or too wide, but I did do a fair amount of searching for a small pen (about 4”) that doesn’t have a removable cap and has a retractable tip.

Why no removable cap you ask? Well the purpose of the jotter is to quickly and easily jot down things as they come to mind–whenever and wherever I am.

I touched this a little on my productivity vs. resistance post a while back. The slightest bit of resistance can throw productivity off track. Part of the GTD system is to have a “capture device” ready at all times. I have to say, this advice has been very helpful for me in remembering things and “getting things done.”

What the heck does this have to do with the pen? What the heck am I talking about?

Most ideas or thoughts that I want to take down (and remember) happen when I’m driving or at other inconvenient times. So I need fast access to the pad and pen—when driving I’ll wait until I come to a red light of course. It turns out the pen the jotter came with, while is high quality, has a cap. And the cap is a PITA because it doesn’t fit on the back of the pen. So I either have to hold the cap, throw it on the passenger seat, or hold it in my mouth or something. I usually end up fumbling around with it or dropping it–then having to look for it. Just this tiny little seemingly insignificant inconvenience makes me not want to use the jotter at times. This may be silly, but it’s true.

Also, my G1 phone can fill in sometimes at a note taker, but let’s face it. Writing something down is 10 times faster than flipping open the phone, launching an app, and taking a simple note.

So, what’d I get? A Zebra SL-F1 Extendable Ballpoint Pen at Perfect! It’s small. It writes well. It opens up quickly and smoothly. It fits the jotter’s pen slot. And it feels sturdy. It solved my little dilemma! The bonus is it’s extendable. While very small when closed, it’s a regular sized pen when extended and ready to write. It has a cool telescopic action.

Zebra Pen vs. Cross Jotter Pen
Zebra Pen vs. Cross Jotter Pen
Zebra Pen with Cross Jotter
Zebra Pen with Cross Jotter

Productivity Tidbit via Daily Quote

I read this daily quote on my iGoogle page today. How it rings so true. It’s essential to avoid this if you’re trying to apply a productivity system.

I write down everything I want to remember. That way, instead of spending a lot of time trying to remember what it is I wrote down, I spend the time looking for the paper I wrote it down on.
– Beryl Pfizer

The tip of the day is to make sure your lists are accessible to you at all times.

I’m going to give Evernote a shot

I’ve written about productivity a few times before. For me to adopt something new it has to be easy to use and available everywhere. Also there has to be a real need for me to try it. And when I try it, I need to commit to really trying it out.

I have one problem with bookmarking services. I currently use Google Bookmarks and Delicious. The problem for me is context. A lot of times I want to read something later, or remind myself to do something later. With traditional bookmarking services, I’m limited to the tag. And although with both you can write comments, it’s not nearly flexible enough. So I end up never getting back to what I’ve tagged as “actionable.”

Since I’m now using Chrome full time, I’ve lessened my addiction to Google’s toolbar (not fully however as I still want it badly for site search and other things). Instead of toolbars, I now rely on bookmarklets.

I don’t want to get into a full comparison of features among Evernote, Google Bookmarks, and Delicious. Rather, I’ll just explain why I’m excited about Evernote, which I’m going to give a serious test drive.

What Evernote allows you to do in one swoop is highlight a part of a webpage (images and/or text) and use the bookmarklet to “clip” it. You can then save what’s clipped, the url, and the page title (which can be edited). You can add a tag and note to the clip as well. So where this picks up from where the other bookmark services leave off is the ability to easily add in why I’m saving it (like what I need to do), along with the “clip” of the site I’ve saved. Delicious is close, but not as robust.

Evernote also has a mobile phone interface which is nice. According to their blog, they are planning and developing an app for Android (they currently have one for the iPhone). If all goes well with my test, I’ll be psyched to have a native client on my G1.

Now lets see how it goes.

View Twitter Statuses in Google Reader

I figured this out! Yes! Well no not really, someone else did. But I pat myself on the back for finding it and then doing it for myself.

One reason I haven’t been on the Twitter bandwagon is that I find it hard to keep up with. I have almost all my favorite sites aggregated and published together in my Google Reader–rather than visiting every page. Now low and behold, there is a way to get Twitter updates in there too using Yahoo Pipes.

I’m not going to write how, rather I’ll give props to who has:

Thanks David!

Now I have to find other uses for Yahoo Pipes! There is a little mouse running on a wheel in my head.