February 19, 2010

“Getting Things Done” Links and Resources

Filed under: getting things done, gtd — admin @ 4:21 pm

If you’re already using Getting Things Done with Viira on your BlackBerry, you’re well on your way to living a more organized, productive life. But if you still have lingering questions on how best to use GTD in certain situations, there are plenty of places to go online to get help.

We’ve compiled a list of the Internet’s leading authorities on Getting Things Done. From tips and tricks, to words of wisdom from David Allen himself, you’re sure to find the info you need in one of the links below.

  • Otherwise known as Mecca, DavidCo is the official website of the David Allen Company. Find information on all Allen’s books, upcoming appearances and more.
  • GTD Times is a division of David Allen’s network. The self-described ‘hub of all things GTD,’ this site includes a blog, newsletter signup, and links to many more GTD resources.
  • Another part of David Allen’s rapidly growing empire, GTD Connect is a subscription service that puts Getting Things Done practitioners in touch with each other and allows users to participate in online classes.
  • Visit the official Facebook fan page of Getting Things Done to connect with other like-minded productivity fans on this popular social network.
  • Join the official LinkedIn page for GTD Enthusiasts. Open to everyone, it’s a fantastic networking group to share GTD tips and tricks. David Allen and his staff are said to stop by occasionally.
  • The official YouTube page for Getting Things Done ihas informative videos from David Allen and others explaining how GTD works for them.
  • Follow David Allen on Twitter for daily musings from this famous productivity guru.
  • You’ve probably read all of Allen’s books cover-to-cover, but if you happen to be missing one, head over to Amazon.com’s David Allen page and complete your collection.
  • Run by Merlin Mann, creator of the Hipster PDA, 43Folders.com discusses productivity, taking several cues from GTD.
  • Getting Things Done is a popular topic on Lifehacker.com, a blog that offers tricks and shortcuts to living life effectively. Search the #GTD and #gettingthingsdone tags to see all the posts.
  • Not to be confused with Lifehacker, Stepcase Lifehack also focuses on productivity and often mentions Getting Things Done.
  • Getting Finances Done is a blog that preaches personal financial control, using many of the GTD principles.
  • Written by a GTD enthusiast, the Did I Get Things Done blog has multiple updates per week on productivity and motivation.
  • The official Wikipedia page for Getting Things Done gives a great overview on the productivity system when you need a quick refresher.

Finally, if you’re like us and read everything you can find on David Allen and GTD, here are links to a few prominent news articles that discuss the productivity phenomenon.

Happy reading, and be sure to bookmark KartaMobile for all the news on Viira and for tips and tricks on using Getting Things Done with your BlackBerry.

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February 4, 2010

Announcing the Viira Outlook Suite: The Ultimate GTD Solution

Filed under: Viira, getting things done, gtd, outlook — admin @ 6:58 pm

Ever since we launched Viira 1.0, one of the most frequent comments that we received was “Great app! Now, how do I make it work with Outlook?”. Understandably, many of you are relying on MS Outlook for implementing Getting Things Done, and a comprehensive solution that transcends the boundaries of a BlackBerry device is clearly called for.

You requested it, and we listened. Over the last little while we have been hard at work on a combined BlackBerry-Outlook solution called The Viira Outlook Suite. In fact, it is almost ready for a beta launch!

At this point I would like to tell you more about what it will do, as well as give you a glimpse of how it will take your personal productivity and GTD workflows to a whole new level.  If you are interested in what a BlackBerry-Outlook GTD solution has to offer you can sign up for the Viira Outlook Suite updates - and maybe even help us a little by volunteering for our beta program.

Here is a summary of what our the Viira Outlook Suite will look like:

  • BlackBerry *and* Outlook. The Viira Outlook Suite will contain both a BlackBerry app (Viira) and an extension to your Outlook. The extension (called plugin) will make it possible for you to do all the things you are used to doing with Viira inside your Outlook.
  • Viira 2 functionality inside Outlook. The Viira Outlook plugin will provide the same features inside Outlook that Viira 2 currently offers, including projects, contexts and next actions.
  • Full data upgrade path from Viira 2.  The Viira Outlook Suite will import all data from Viira 2 and people choosing to continue with the Viira Outlook Suite can do so effortlessly.
  • Full purchase credit. Buyers of the full version of Viira 2 will get full credit ($29.99) towards the purchase price of the Viira Outlook Suite. We haven’t decided on pricing yet, but if the Viira Outlook Suite is say $29.99, then buyers of Viira 2 will get it for free. If the Outlook Suite is $39.99, buyers of Viira will be able to get it for $10.00, etc. So if you are interested in our Viira Outlook Suite and are also considering buying Viira 2, you might as well make your purchase now and enjoy Viira for longer.
  • Same emphasis on GTD. Our Viira Outlook Suite will stay true to the principles of Getting Things Done, simplicity and ease of use.

So put down your name name and email address on our sign-up form and we will let you know as soon as the Viira Outlook Suite is available and ready for download. We all look forward to taking your productivity habbits and GTD workflows to a whole new level.

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February 2, 2010

More Ways Of Applying “Getting Things Done”

Filed under: How-To, Viira, getting things done, gtd — admin @ 8:28 pm

GTD is one of the world’s most popular work/life productivity systems, but despite all the examples in David Allen’s fantastic book, the system isn’t just for busy executives or creative entrepreneurs. Anyone can use Getting Things Done to help organize their lives, no matter if they are a stay-at-home dad or an on-the-go gal.

Don’t believe us? Well, the following examples may inspire you to apply the principles of Getting Things Done in ways that haven’t crossed your mind yet. With productivity tools like Viira and your BlackBerry, the multitude of ways to get things done is downright amazing.

@Book Recommendations - From Oprah to Arianna, everyone’s recommending a book. Keep track of the ones you want to read in their own Context. Adding a new book to the list is as easy as reaching for your BlackBerry.

@Travel Destinations - Make a note of the fantastic voyages you’ve seen in the newspaper’s travel section or on your friend’s slide show. When it comes time to plan the trip, just transform your notes into next actions.

@Supermarket - Manage your grocery list in Viira and you’ll always know what to pick up when you’re out and about.

@Resolutions - Write down your New Years resolutions. You will have them right on your BlackBerry to remind you - and then check them off the list one by one!

@Doctor – If you’re lucky, you only see your doc once a year. Make notes about all the items you want to discuss at your next checkup so nothing gets forgotten.

@Renovations – Anyone who’s tackled a remodel knows there are roughly five thousand details to keep track of, and Viira is the perfect place to do so. Just remember to always have one “kick-start action” to keep the project moving along, as David Allen recommends.

@Class – GTD isn’t just for working professionals. Students can also use it to take notes. Just create a separate context for each class and your notes will be at your fingertips during those late-night cram sessions.

@Take Notes — Next time you are at a seminar or presentation, instead of using pen and paper use Viira to take notes. Simply create a context, e.g. “XYZ Presentation” and write down points or follow-on reminders. You can review the presentation later, and even designate next actions for follow-up.

Remember, the guiding principle of Getting Things Done is to collect 100% of all your tasks and commitments, or “stuff,” as David Allen calls it. Your “stuff” doesn’t just live in the office—it’s all around you, and when you’re able to keep it all off your mind and at your fingertips with the Viira BlackBerry app, you’ll be free to focus on the bigger picture of staying focused in the new year and the new decade!

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January 8, 2010

Getting Started With “Getting Things Done”

Filed under: How-To, Viira, getting things done, gtd — admin @ 4:33 pm

Congratulations! You’ve made the decision to adopt GTD and install Viira on your BlackBerry, the perfect pair of tools to make your work and home lives more organized and productive. If you haven’t already done so, we highly encourage you to read David Allen’s fantastic book, “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity.”  It goes into detail on the best ways to incorporate the GTD system into your life.

But what now?  You have the tools, but how do you start organizing all of your commitments into GTD via Viira?  Fortunately, the app makes it a cinch.

Step 1: Collect your Commitments

The guiding principle behind GTD is to collect and organize 100% of your tasks and commitments, or “stuff” as David Allen calls it.  This process gets the details out of your head, freeing your mind to focus on larger issues and bigger projects.

All this “stuff” may be in the form of sticky notes framing your computer monitor or scrap papers in a junk drawer.  Or, like most people, your email inbox might be the biggest culprit.  If so, Viira makes it simple to get your inbox to empty by transforming incoming emails into actionable items.  Since the app works seamlessly with the BlackBerry’s native email program, you can easily create a task directly from an individual email.

Step 2: Organize and File

All the “stuff” you collect needs to be acted on, and you can organize it all using Viira.  You may want to consider setting up your Projects and Contexts first. David Allen defines a project as “any desired result that requires more than one action step.”  Contexts, on the other hand, are groups of actionable items that all need to happen together, like @Computer, or @StaffMeeting.

Once you’ve got a handle on those, you can start adding actionable items into the system as Appointments (items with a due date) and Tasks (items that aren’t time sensitive).  These can be filed as a specific Project or Context…or nothing at all, if that’s your preference.

Step 3: Daily Review

David Allen warns of the danger of putting reminders out of sight, and suggests frequent reviews of your lists to make sure you stay up to speed on all your items.  To combat this, he recommends a daily review of your calendar, as it provides a “hard landscape” of what has to be done that day. Viira makes this a breeze with the Day View that stays seamlessly in sync with your BlackBerry’s calendar.

Once you get a handle on your daily schedule, take a look at your Tasks View to see what else you can accomplish.  If you’ve organized your next actions into Contexts, one look at the Contexts View will show you the items you can tackle in your current location.

Step 4: Weekly Review

Don’t forget about the bigger projects you’ve taken the time to add into Viira.  A weekly review of these areas in Projects View will ensure everything is up to date. David Allen recommends having at least one “kick-start action” for each Project amongst your Next Actions, to keep everything moving forward.

This is also a good time to empty your head of all the new projects, actions and appointments you haven’t yet captured in the app, along with clearing out actions that you’ve completed.  Remember, when everything is off your mind and at your fingertips on your BlackBerry, you’re free to focus on the big picture.

Step 5: Take a Shortcut

Now that you’ve got a handle on all your tasks and commitments, become a power user of Viira! Make the most of your BlackBerry and GTD by learning a few of the hotkey shortcuts: you can check them out at the Viira shortcut information page.

As you continue to use Viira and apply the principles of Getting Things Done with your BlackBerry you’ll likely find that your mind is clear and you’re able to consistently and effectively manage all your commitments.  As long as you continue to aim for 100% collection of all your “stuff,” and transform it all into actionable items using Viira, you’ll stay in this wonderful relaxed and productive state.

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June 24, 2009

Viira 1.3 Released

Filed under: Viira, blackberry, gtd — Tags: , — admin @ 6:50 pm

We are glad to announce the immediate availability of Viira 1.3. This release is largely made of various suggestions that many of you passed along.

With many thanks to all of you that dropped us a line telling us what features you would like to see, here is what is new in Viira 1.3:

  • Track project-less and context-less tasks. Project and Context Views now provide an easy way to locate tasks without a project or a context and prevent these tasks from “slipping through the cracks”. Simply select <No Project> and <No Context> in Projects View and Contexts View and all tasks without a project or context assigned to them will be displayed, respectively. (Thanks Sean for suggesting this one!)
  • Start in Last View Used . A new setting available through Viira’s options lets you start Viira in the last used view, making it easier to return to where you left things off.
  • BlackBerry Storm support. As the momentum behind the BlackBerry Storm adoption grows we are pleased to the Storm to the list of supported devices. Long-time owners of and recent upgraders to the BlackBerry Storm can take full advantage of the device’s unique capabilities like the touch screen and orientation sensitivity to get things done on the go with Viira.
  • Performance enhancements. An engineering optimization put in place in Viira 1.3 drastically boosts the speed with which appointments stay in sync with the native BlackBerry calendar, making it possible to integrate a large number of appointments in your GTD system. (thanks Rajesh for helping us through this one)
  • Appointments sorted chronologically. Day View now lists all appointments in chronological order, making it easier to get a quick and intuitive glance of what lies ahead for any given day.
  • Free trial limits raised. The Viira 1.3 Free Trial comes with raised limits on the number of projects, contexts and tasks.

As usual, Viira 1.3 comes as a free upgrade to all buyers of the full version. To get upgrade Over-The-Air (OTA) simply point your BlackBerry to our mobile site www.kartamobile.com/bb. Alternatively buyers can log in to our site and download the ZIPed installer and install.

A free trial of Viira 1.3 is also available.

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February 12, 2009

Viira 1.2 Released

Filed under: Viira, blackberry, gtd — Tags: , — admin @ 11:22 am

We are pleased to announce the immediate availability of Viira 1.2. Since we released Viira 1.1 we heard many positive words (thank you all!) and received many great feature suggestions, so we decided to make many of them reality in the 1.2 release.

Here is what’s new in Viira 1.2:

  • Alphabetically sorted projects and contexts. (Thanks Greg for making us see the light on this one!) In addition to the visual convenience of being able to quickly zero in on a project or context this feature has the added benefit of “clustering” projects and contexts with similar names together. For example, all my projects that start with “Viira”, e.g. “Viira Features”, “Viira Suggestions” etc. all appear one after the other.
  • Quick search for projects/contexts. Just press the first letter of the project or context you are looking for and the project or context starting with this letter will be highlighted. Works both in Project View, Context View as well as in the drop-down combo boxes in the Task and Appointment edit screen. Makes finding the project or context you are looking for a whole lot quicker!
  • Support for recurring appointments and events. All BlackBerry Calendar appointments and events with recurrence associated with them now appear in Day View and can be assigned a project or context, just like any task or appointment in Viira. More on Viira’s recurring appointments and how to best take advantage of them is coming up in a follow-on post.
  • Backup/restore capabilities.  All of Viira’s data now gets automatically backed up and restored when the entire device is backed up and restored, thus giving a peace of mind to the many of you counting on Viira day-in and day-out to get things done. A post on how to backup/restore Viira’s data for those that haven’t done a device backup/restore before is coming soon. Backup/restore is available on the full version of Viira.
  • Device migration support. Thinking of upgrading to a newer BlackBerry model but have a lot of Viira data on the older device? Buyers of the full version can now migrate their Viira data from one BlackBerry to another, ensuring data continuity between device upgrades. (more on this to follow in a separate device migration how-to).
  • Support for latest BlackBerry models. Release 1.2 makes sure that Viira works and looks great on the BlackBerry Pearl 8220 and the BlackBerry Curve 8900.
  • Auto-capitalization of first letter of project, context, task and appointment names. Just makes things look a whole lot nicer!

As always, release 1.2 comes as a free update to all buyers of the full version of Viira. Buyers can get the update by pointing their BlackBerries to the Viira mobile site at www.kartamobile.com/bb or by logging in to our main site and downloading the ZIPed installer from there.

A free trial of Viira 1.2 is available as well.

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January 18, 2009

Free Ways To Implement GTD With BlackBerry (And Where They Fall Short)

Filed under: blackberry, getting things done, gtd — dev @ 8:46 pm

A while back Isaac Bowman wrote a great post on how to implement a system for Getting Things Done with BlackBerry by using just the Tasks application that comes standard on every device.

Isaac’s idea is a very ingenuous one, works reasonably well for small-scale GTD implementations (30-40 tasks or less and a handful of projects and contexts) and cleverly pushes the limits of the BlackBerry Tasks application pretty much as far as possible in my view.

Actually, in the early days of Viira development we used his post as our internal benchmark: if we wanted Viira to be successful, we realized it needs to be able to provide much more than what can be eeked out from the Tasks application.

At its core, Isaac’s idea of implementing GTD on a BlackBerry is fairly straightforward. To flag a task as belonging to a project or a context, encode the project or context name in the task name and use the search function to find all outstanding tasks for a project or context.

Another slightly more technical variation on this idea comes from Mike at Clutter Free Mind who uses the task names to encode a larger category of tasks, like work relating to specific clients for example.

A key problem with relying exclusively on the Tasks application for implementing a system for Getting Things Done with a BlackBerry is that the native BlackBerry apps don’t do a good job of combining tasks and appointments together. This makes having day-specific tasks, a requirement of any solid GTD system, that much harder to achieve.

Another problems with implementing GTD with BlackBerry this way is that a lot of extra typing is needed to get even the basics going. Switching between contexts or projects requires typing every time, and if you are a more involved GTDer your thumbs will start feeling it after a bit. For someone with a BlackBerry Pearl or Storm this can become an even bigger problem.

Also, when it comes to re-assigning tasks from one project to another or renaming projects or contexts the limitations of this approach of Getting Things Done becomes more obvious. Changing the project or context a task belongs to requires editing the task’s name, and renaming a project makes it necessary to re-edit the names of all tasks in that project.

If you are like me and have 30+ projects and start forgetting the exact wording of the projects’ names the entire process will become daunting in a hurry (in Getting Things Done David Allen talks about 30-100 projects being the norm). Mistyping a project name in the task field can cause that task to “fall off” the projects’ radar as well.

At the end of the day, the BlackBerry Tasks application was just plain not designed with GTD in mind. While some hacks can be used to augment the Tasks functionality it is hard to make them scale effortlessly to a larger, fuller and intuitive GTD implementation that works smoothly all the time.

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December 7, 2008

Moleskine GTD Hacks, Hipster PDA and why I still prefer my BlackBerry

Filed under: Viira, blackberry, gtd — dev @ 7:01 pm

As I was browsing around looking for some tips and tricks on implementing Getting Things Done in a mobile way, I stumbled on a number of articles devoted to low-tech GTD solutions. Perhaps in a frustration with the current set of GTD tools at the time or their low portability, many people came up with stripped down versions of a GTD system using simple items like notepads and PostIts, and adapted them to work in their day-to-day lives.

One such way of implementing a mini-GTD system is the series of Moleskine GTD hacks. The idea is fairly straightforward - use a standard Moleskine notepad and dedicate various sub-sections from it to tasks, projects, etc. There a several posts on 43folders dedicated to Moleskine hacks as well as a very stripped-down version of GTD called Hipster PDA that uses just some 3 x 5 file cards and a clip.

Jerry Brito also describes an ingenious way to make a notebook more GTD-friendly by adding write-on tabs, which in my mind is almost a necessity as notebooks tend to be somewhat awkward when it comes to  looking things up. My personal favorite though was the student Moleskine hack that took the Moleskine and adapted it to the student lifestyle, which indirectly brought back some fond memories (I wish I was that organized in school!).

Many of these solutions are fairly cheap and easy to set up, with the total cost varying from about $20 to $40 (Moleskines are reportedly expensive in some parts of the world). And although each touts the simplicity of the model, many followers admit to needing a PDA for other aspects of GTD, like appointments and contact information (Palm PDAs were en vogue back when these ideas first came out).

As I was reading this I realized how glad I am that we now have all these sophisticated BlackBerry models like the Bold, the Curve and the 8800 series, not to mention the Storm. Implementing GTD on BlackBerry is now not only so much easier and hassle-free but lets you have a truly mobile productivity platform that is always there when you need it.

Getting things done with a BlackBerry using a tool like Viira is not only effective but is also elegant and lightweight. For one, you don’t have to carry a somewhat bulky Moleskine everywhere you go (would you bring a Moleskine to a cocktail party?).

I am the kind of person that forgets his umbrella in a cab or restaurant on rainy day, so not leaving a Moleskine behind would be a bit of a challenge for me to say the least. But after years of cell phone and later BlackBerry use my brain seems to have learned to never leave my BlackBerry out of reach or unaccounted for. There is no leaving my ‘berry behind, no Sir!

Looking things up by Project and by Context from a notepad can be somewhat challenging and it can get downright tricky as the number of projects and contexts grows. In fact, David Allen mentions in Getting Things Done that it is not uncommon to have 30 to 100 projects. And a Moleskine clearly falls short of keeping track of appointments, contacts, let alone day tasks.

Last but not least, I like to have a trusted GTD implementation on which I can rely no matter where I may be. Maybe it’s just me, but when I am at a social event like a party, a wedding or just dinner with friends and someone mentions an interesting book or a web site I would think twice before whipping out a Moleskine to jot it down (assuming I even brought it with me in the first place). With my BlackBerry, I can quickly open Viira and file the new task idea or jot down the tickler item within seconds.

In short, GTD with BlackBerry and Viira is an intuitive and natural fit that, thanks to the amazing technological advances in the last few years it is now within the reach of many productivity enthusiasts. And I am truly excited about the new and upcoming BlackBerry devices, their power and their elegance, and the new era of mobile productivity that they are ushering in.

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November 30, 2008

Viira 1.1 Released

Filed under: Viira, blackberry, gtd — admin @ 1:53 pm

After talking to some of the people using Viira as the GTD system on their BlackBerry, a few ideas and potential enhancements came up in our conversations. And what better way to make those ideas and enhancements available to everyone out there than a point release!

So here is what’s new in Viira 1.1:

  • Notes field for Tasks. Several people mentioned the usefulness of being able to write a few extra words about a task, and we promptly added this to the Viira feature set.
  • Enhanced BlackBerry Bold Day View.The BlackBerry Bold has a unique and very beautiful theme going, which Viira now embraces.
  • Viira imports BlackBerry tasks. We heard from many people who are migrating away from using the BlackBerry Tasks application for GTD. With them in mind we added the ability to import all those tasks that they have already typed in the first time Viira gets launched.

And here are some screenshots from Viira 1.1:

Viira 1.1 comes as a free upgrade to everyone who has purchased the full version. Just sign-in and you will see a link to download the 1.1 version on the left.

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November 21, 2008

Day Tasks with Viira

Filed under: Viira, gtd — dev @ 10:21 am

In addition to being able to categorize tasks by Project and by Context, Viira’s tasks can be organized by day as well. I like the extra flexibility this adds to the way I can organize my to-do data on my BlackBerry, and here is how I leverage it to be more productive.

In the GTD bible Getting Things Done David Allen talks about the importance of including day-specific actions and information in your calendar. Day-specific actions are those “things that you need to do sometime on a certain day, but not necessarily at a specific time”. Day-specific information is things like tips, reminders and generally “information that may be useful on a given day”.

Viira’s day tasks are perfectly suited for both. But I also like to use Viira’s day tasks for another purpose - to plan the next day ahead the night before.

Every night before I go to bed I like to sit down with my BlackBerry and plan out the day to come. I do this by going through the projects that are on top of my priority list, pick the next actions from them and assign them as a day task for tomorrow. Assigning an existing task for a day is easy with Viira - you just check of the checkbox that says “Day Task”, set the date and you are done.

I find that this process of staking out tomorrow’s objectives adds a strengthened sense of focus when I start the new day. If I have planned out my day tasks and visualized the day’s goals in advance I find myself less likely to be thrown off course by the distractions and interruptions that will inevitably occur during the course of that day. And if I can’t get to everything that I was planning to accomplish on that day, I can review it during those nightly mini-reviews and either defer it for tomorrow or leave it off for another day.

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