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Of Gmail, GTD, and List Managers… Can Gmail Reliably be Your Trusted System?

May 24, 2010 Leave a comment

In spite of its flaws, when I was using Microsoft Outlook as my email client/personal information manage, Netcentric’s Outlook add-on was my most successful “trusted system” (in David Allen Getting Things Done parlance). A year ago when I began a migration away from Outlook, I started looking for a web-based system that was cross platform and that would have the ability to also interact with a mobile device. I first used Nozbe, then moved to Toodledo.

Since moving to a web-based tool for task/list management, what has consistently been awkward is managing the interconnection between emails, actions and status. Yes there are ways of emailing tasks to Toodledo or Nozbe; however, in my experience it is far from an organic integrated process. While productivity zealots warn about living one’s life in an email client, I find that email is a vital component of keeping on top of my interests. As noted in this blog, I’ve moved to using Google Apps (Gmail) over the last couple of months and keep a dedicated browser open on a separate screen for Google’s Apps (in tabs) and Toodledo (always open in its own tab), and I’ve been finding that I’m using Toodledo less and less. I have no real gripes with Toodledo as it is a very powerful list manager; however, in spite of its integration points, it is a bit of an island.

I recently discovered and implemented GTD coach Kelly Forrister’s Gmail GTD method described here.  This, along with Gmail’s multiple inbox feature (I have inboxes for Next Action, Waiting For, Actions and Someday) approximates something of what I once did in the Outlook add-on. Using Kelly’s system, I’m almost at a point where I’m saying to myself, should I continue to manage these two separate islands, or can I do it all in Gmail?

The weakest part of adapting Gmail for this type of task/status management is that emails are not really task objects, thus once an email is created you can’t really manage the subject properly. Also, since they are not really tasks, the “completion/status” life cycle is not properly documented. And of course, the collaboration/tracking of others is hard to do.

If you’ve ended up at this post, I suspect many of you have struggled with the same. Can Gmail alone be your “trusted” system? Do you need a separate list/task manager?

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No Outlook in My Future: Migrating to Google Apps and Leaving my Blackberry Behind

May 18, 2010 Leave a comment

After using Outlook/Exchange since 1997 and RIM/BlackBerry devices since 2004, I recently spearheaded a move to migrate TPC Healthcare (the boutique healthcare technology firm that I founded) to Google Apps and to Google’s Android devices. For a long time I considered myself to be a big Microsoft/RIM guy, but over the last couple of years something really shifted for me, not the least of which was spinning off my business into its own entity. Partially this shift was about saving money. At $50-per-year-per-user, Google Apps Premier Edition is a no-brainer for the small business owner who needs enterprise features. Prior to this move I’d been outsourcing seats on Exchange/BlackBerry Enterprise servers for $22.90-per-user-per-month, along with a Smartphone Enterprise $45/month/user data plan. I had become accustomed to these overhead costs, but when presented with the possibility of saving 50 percent while getting a broader set of applications, I knew I had to check it out. But cost was not the only reason I switched to Google. As a small business we have the opportunity to be nimbler than the large competitors we face every day. Having excellent communication tools and well organized data is a competitive advantage for us — as is the ability to have shared-anytime-anywhere access to our assets. And as I evaluated our options, I considered Google Apps to be a practical and unifying move that could be done quickly with limited cost outlay.

Read the rest of my case study @ Internet.com’s EnterpriseMobileToday here: http://bit.ly/drof2u

Mobilize Your WordPress Website for Free Using WPtouch

April 28, 2010 Leave a comment

A few month’s back, my better half wrote a piece for Small Business Computing, entitled “Why You Need a Mobile Website” which convincingly advocates that all business need to have a mobile device strategy for their web applications. I’d back burnered the advice until today when I discovered a crafty mobile theme for WordPress called WPtouch from the Canadian web shop BraveNewCode. After installing the theme, I built a new mobile home page for TPC Healthcare in about 5 minutes which renders perfectly on Zack’s iPhone, or my Nexus One device.

One of course shouldn’t assume that the beautifully crafted site with lots of graphics and nested content will miraculously adapt it’s design to fit on the small screen. WPtouch, assumes that the mobile user needs the facts fast, and by applying very skinny design to your content, it does the job remarkably well (especially for free). In fact, I chose on the first go round, to adapt our contact page and make it be a new mobile home page. In one quick screen, someone hitting our site from their mobile device can found out what we do and now how to contact us. What a concept…