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  • Need help finding a sw with a particular function

    Hallo everybody!
    I'm totally new to this forum, and I'm sorry to begin with a hard question (at least it seems to me so).

    I use GTD software for organizing my work and life, but I still haven't found a sw that does a quite simple operation: strong interaction with agenda and automatic time-keeping.
    I try to explain this thing a little better.
    Suppose I have a project "Read a book", and I know this book is 100 pages long, and that I can read at most 10 pages per hour.
    I would normally set up a project involving 10 tasks (#1 "read from p. 1 to 10", #2 "read from p. 11 to 20" and so on), each one needing 1 hour to be completed. Let's suppose I use a "@library" context.
    At the library I would open my sw, filter tasks by context and find out that today I was supposed to read p 31 to 40 if I want to finish my project in time... just because I never had the chance to go to the library.
    someone could call me mad, but: what if a piece of code helped me putting the right tasks in the right hour of the right day of my agenda?
    If i'm supposed to read the whole book for december 31 and I can do it in 10 hours, it's probably useless to begin reading at september 1st... So the sw I'm looking for should be able to find the right spaces in my agenda and calculate when I would be supposed to begin my reading.
    Better still if those tasks could be dinamically upgraded, according to priority (it could be that a new high priority project conflicts with this one) and/or time.

    I currently use a PC and a Blackberry synced via MS Exchange.

    Thank you for any help!

  • #2
    Originally posted by Hileotech View Post
    Hallo everybody!
    I'm totally new to this forum, and I'm sorry to begin with a hard question (at least it seems to me so).

    I use GTD software for organizing my work and life, but I still haven't found a sw that does a quite simple operation: strong interaction with agenda and automatic time-keeping.
    I try to explain this thing a little better.
    Suppose I have a project "Read a book", and I know this book is 100 pages long, and that I can read at most 10 pages per hour.
    I would normally set up a project involving 10 tasks (#1 "read from p. 1 to 10", #2 "read from p. 11 to 20" and so on), each one needing 1 hour to be completed. Let's suppose I use a "@library" context.
    At the library I would open my sw, filter tasks by context and find out that today I was supposed to read p 31 to 40 if I want to finish my project in time... just because I never had the chance to go to the library.
    someone could call me mad, but: what if a piece of code helped me putting the right tasks in the right hour of the right day of my agenda?
    If i'm supposed to read the whole book for december 31 and I can do it in 10 hours, it's probably useless to begin reading at september 1st... So the sw I'm looking for should be able to find the right spaces in my agenda and calculate when I would be supposed to begin my reading.
    Better still if those tasks could be dinamically upgraded, according to priority (it could be that a new high priority project conflicts with this one) and/or time.

    I currently use a PC and a Blackberry synced via MS Exchange.

    Thank you for any help!
    I remember seeing software for PC's that does this sort of thing, but can't recall the name. It was rather inflexible and not at all GTD-ish. On the other hand, what you seem to want is not very GTD-ish either. If the company is still in business, you can probably find it on the web.

    If you want to try something a little more flexible that does dynamic prioritization, context-specific lists, and calendar, you might try Life Balance, from Llamagraphics. It is cross-platform, but doesn't run on a Blackberry, as far as I know.

    Comment


    • #3
      First of all let me thank you for your answer.
      What I'm really interested in isn't that "GTD-ish", I know, but I'm trying to *use* GDT and not *to be used by* this method.
      I've been searching for such a software here and there in the web, but no chance at all.
      I found a product (can't even remember its name) enterprise-oriented that could probably do what I'm interested in, but apart from its cost, it didn't actually do what I ment.
      I'm at presente trying "Time To", but as far as I can see it doesn't sync with MS Exchange (causing a continuous loop of duplicates events in my agenda... a real mess!).

      Please, software developers, where are you?????

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Hileotech View Post
        First of all let me thank you for your answer.
        What I'm really interested in isn't that "GTD-ish", I know, but I'm trying to *use* GDT and not *to be used by* this method.
        I've been searching for such a software here and there in the web, but no chance at all.
        I found a product (can't even remember its name) enterprise-oriented that could probably do what I'm interested in, but apart from its cost, it didn't actually do what I ment.
        I'm at presente trying "Time To", but as far as I can see it doesn't sync with MS Exchange (causing a continuous loop of duplicates events in my agenda... a real mess!).

        Please, software developers, where are you?????
        You want something like you describe, AND you want it to sync with MS Exchange? You know, it might be easier to learn GTD. But good luck!

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by mcogilvie View Post
          You want something like you describe, AND you want it to sync with MS Exchange? You know, it might be easier to learn GTD. But good luck!
          Yap! Why does that sound so strange? I have a MS Exchange server with all my business life in it. And I need to be as efficient as possible.
          Anyway: don't we ask ourselves "how much time do I have" before looking for next actions? I would like that the answer to this question could be automatically suggested by a "strong" agenda... It's somehow like having a boss asking you to do things the right day (not before, not later), the right place. But in this case I'm the boss of myself...

          Thank you anyway for your answer!

          Comment


          • #6
            re: Software Developers Where Are You?

            As a software developer myself I can tell you that there is a temptation to find the "perfect" solution for streamlining your GTD workflow. The truth is that there is no perfect solution; you have to settle for the one you tailor to your own needs with the tools that make the most sense for you.

            Even if you had what you wanted - type in your reading speed 10 pages - etc. and had it all automated and synced, there is always the exceptions to the rule: Do you read at the same speed when you are reading a technical book? Or how about when your energy level is low? etc. And what if you don't want to read the entire book but only a few chapters?

            The best way to handle a project like reading a book is to have a system whereby once you finish one section or chapter, you can 'bookmark' the next location with a reminder for you. (e.g., start at the heading "Setting Up Your Workspace", or "Begin at Chapter 2"). You don't have to make endless tasks of "Read chapter 1", "Read chapter 2", "Read chapter 3" - you just simply write the next bookmark. This saves a lot of time and you don't have to worry about redundant writing.

            As far as MSExchange support, the best solution is to find a software program that emails you your lists. Trust me. I've worked with syncing and watched the trends. It only takes one ugly sync to mess up *everything*. And it's not the syncing that is the problem - it is the predictable changes that take place as operating systems and code changes are made by software developers. There's no way to avoid the possibilities of a bad sync. So better to have a solution where you can just email yourself a fresh list and get on with cranking through the items.

            The only other thing I would say is that it is a really good idea to mark all of your reading with (1) a purpose statement saying why you intend to read it and (2) estimated time to read that next section.

            That's my two cents and it's worked amazingly well for me. Hope some of this is helpful.
            Last edited by Todd V; 07-02-2011, 12:14 AM.

            Comment


            • #7
              It's Above & Beyond

              A different thread reminded me that the software I was thinking of was Above & Beyond. Someone was seeking a replacement for it because it hasn't been updated in a while.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Todd V View Post
                As a software developer myself I can tell you that there is a temptation to find the "perfect" solution for streamlining your GTD workflow. The truth is that there is no perfect solution; you have to settle for the one you tailor to your own needs with the tools that make the most sense for you.

                Even if you had what you wanted - type in your reading speed 10 pages - etc. and had it all automated and synced, there is always the exceptions to the rule: Do you read at the same speed when you are reading a technical book? Or how about when your energy level is low? etc. And what if you don't want to read the entire book but only a few chapters?

                The best way to handle a project like reading a book is to have a system whereby once you finish one section or chapter, you can 'bookmark' the next location with a reminder for you. (e.g., start at the heading "Setting Up Your Workspace", or "Begin at Chapter 2"). You don't have to make endless tasks of "Read chapter 1", "Read chapter 2", "Read chapter 3" - you just simply write the next bookmark. This saves a lot of time and you don't have to worry about redundant writing.

                As far as MSExchange support, the best solution is to find a software program that emails you your lists. Trust me. I've worked with syncing and watched the trends. It only takes one ugly sync to mess up *everything*. And it's not the syncing that is the problem - it is the predictable changes that take place as operating systems and code changes are made by software developers. There's no way to avoid the possibilities of a bad sync. So better to have a solution where you can just email yourself a fresh list and get on with cranking through the items.

                The only other thing I would say is that it is a really good idea to mark all of your reading with (1) a purpose statement saying why you intend to read it and (2) estimated time to read that next section.

                That's my two cents and it's worked amazingly well for me. Hope some of this is helpful.
                Great! I really thank you for your long and interesting answer.
                Let me explain a little bit more what I ment in my first post.
                No matter where I write (or receive by e-mail) my task list, the first thing I have to do is to check agenda in order to know how much time I have before next meeting (for example).
                Then I can scroll my list looking for something suitable for the time I have (e.g. I won't go through the "Write chapter 3 of my novel" if I only have 20 minutes, but will look for something like "Forward meeting plan to John and Mary").
                Then I check priorities in the tasks that fit the time I have. Then I balance priorities with stress/tiredness/etc. Then I can begin working... if I still have time.
                What if I could ask a SW to do that for me? It could automatically find that I have 30 minutes before next meeting, do the "purge" job for me and then ask me whether I prefer to "Forward meeting plan to J&M" or "Play Solitaire on WinXP" .
                This last is the only reason why I think that a sync with Outlook / MSExchange would be necessary: otherways how could the software know if and how much time do I have?
                As far as Sync problems are concerned: I know them very well, believe me! But the SW could work on a copy of my agenda... it could just act as a "layer" over my MSExchange calendar, no need to double sync direction. Actually the only thing that this SW should need to know is "how much time do I have between calendar entries?", no matter what they are.

                If you know there is a SW like that, please let me know.
                Or, as a software develper,... PM me!

                Comment


                • #9
                  re: How Much Time Have I Got?

                  A lot of this comes down to how much you are comfortable defining on the front end for each of the items in your system. Many of the things I added to the Ready-Set-Do! approach on the mac started out like good ideas and then in practice turned out to not work or there was something I didn't foresee being a problem. Then you have to scale back the functionality and find something more practical. Wouldn't it be great to have something block me out from the internet to keep me from getting distracted? Wouldn't it be nice to focus on something for 15 minutes and not do anything else until that task is complete? Good ideas, but completely impractical when you try to implement them. There are just times when you have to multi-task and the discipline has to come internally.

                  What works for me is defining all of my reading based on the time it takes to complete. Defining more than that is unnecessary (e.g., energy / priority) since you can often discern those very quickly in-the-moment. My program brings up a dialog "How much time have you got?" I can look at my calendar and see that I've got 30 minutes. I choose "30 minutes" and it gives me a 30 minute item to read. It works great and I can skip through 30 minute items one by one until I find one I prefer to read first.

                  I guess the best advice to give you is just to point out that automation can be more of a hindrance than you might think at first. Just think of how a recurring event on your calendar indiscriminately forecasts this event every week or month without accounting for holidays, a special family event, etc. You have to manually find all of these places throughout the year to undo what the automation automatically did for you. It's still useful, don't get me wrong. But it illustrates the basic point that automation can take too much of the discernment out of your daily workflow. Whatever your system, it is more important that you have control of it than that it has control of you; and excessive automation can quickly make you a prisoner of your system rather than helping you get things done. Flexibility is the key.
                  Last edited by Todd V; 07-02-2011, 12:14 AM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Remember ...

                    and donīt forget ...
                    Attached Files

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Juls550 View Post
                      and donīt forget ...
                      I think the curve turns over and goes down again just beyond the wise limit...

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        MyLifeOrganized handles time requirement well, and you could easily set up a reading parent task broken down into 10 children tasks as you describe. When you know you have 30 minutes available, you can filter to show just the tasks that will fit that time available.

                        Personally, I wouldn't bother creating the 10 subtasks. I would just create one task "Read Book X," set the time requirement to the lowest amount that makes sense, like 10 minutes, and then check it off when the entire book is done.

                        You really don't need software to figure out you have 30 minutes available. It's trivial for your brain.

                        Some things are easy for the brain, hard for software.

                        Other things are easy for software, hard for brain. You want to use software only for this type of thing.

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